Trudeau Takes Big Lead on Economic Stewardship Ahead of Election

Theophilos Argitis
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Trudeau Takes Big Lead on Economic Stewardship Ahead of Election

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has forged a comfortable lead over his main political rival on the crucial question of economic stewardship, giving the Canadian leader a critical advantage in his bid for re-election in October.

According to a monthly survey conducted by Nanos Research Group for Bloomberg News, 37% of respondents say they trust Trudeau the most to promote economic growth, compared with 27% for Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer.

Trudeau and Scheer had been neck-and-neck on the issue only two months ago, but the Liberal Party leader has pulled ahead as the nation’s economic performance firmed up. That includes a recovering housing market, a rebound in economic growth and one of the strongest job markets in the past four decades.

The prime minister’s growing lead on the question also reflects a failure by Scheer to strike a chord with voters on economic issues, said Nik Nanos, chairman of the research firm. The Conservatives have been more focused on attacking the Liberals on an issue-by-issue basis, rather than articulating a clear vision and alternative to creating economic growth and jobs.

“People expect the Conservatives to be the strongest on the economy. That’s part of that natural default brand for the Conservatives,” Nanos said. “People are waiting for Andrew Scheer not just to talk about the economy and jobs but to talk about it a lot.”

“I can’t remember any winning Conservative prime minister winning without focusing on the economy,” he said.

The change in perceptions on economic stewardship has helped the Liberals regain their stride in broader polling. Trudeau had enjoyed a comfortable lead over the Conservatives for the first two years of his mandate, but missteps on the world stage and a domestic scandal involving SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., a construction company headquartered in his hometown of Montreal, put the prime minister on the ropes heading into this year’s election.

Polling averages compiled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. show the parties are statistically tied in voter intentions, after the Conservatives led by as much as seven percentage points earlier this summer.

Part of Trudeau’s better showing on the economic front is luck. Falling global interest rates -- driven by rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China -- are helping the nation’s housing market recover and giving indebted households a breather on debt servicing costs.

But Trudeau can take some credit. Even as global tensions escalate, concerns about a trade war between Canada and the U.S. have mostly eased, following the negotiation of a new North American trade agreement and the removal of U.S. metals tariffs.

Full report: Trust in Trudeau to support economic growth on the rise

Strong employment numbers over the past year also reflect, in part, the Trudeau government’s efforts to ramp up immigration and attract foreign talent and students. That’s helping to sustain consumption just as households pare back.

The Nanos poll on economic stewardship was conducted between July 28 and July 30 and is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The first poll in the series was taken in April, when only 25% of Canadians said they trusted Trudeau most to promote economic growth.

Trudeau has seen his support on the question grow in every region, among both sexes and every age group.

--With assistance from Stephen Wicary.

To contact the reporter on this story: Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at targitis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Theophilos Argitis at targitis@bloomberg.net, Chris Fournier, Steven Frank

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