A poll released Tuesday found Canadians disenchanted with liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose approval ratings have fallen to their lowest since he assumed the nation’s highest office.
The Forum Poll™, a public opinion firm, released their numbers while Trudeau was visiting western Calgary. Having called for “phasing out” oil sands from the nation’s economy, Calgarians greeted Trudeau with loud boos and, in some instances, barely managed to let Trudeau answer their barbed questions.
Forum found that 48 percent of Canadians approve of the job Trudeau is doing as Prime Minister, the first time his approval has crossed the 50 percent mark. “Those are the worst numbers Forum — or any other pollster — has registered for Trudeau since he became prime minister,” the firm notes.
Trudeau’s approval rating dropped ten percentage points since November, during which he became the target of international scorn for praising late Communist dictator Fidel Castro. Trudeau dropped another three points in December, Forum adds, following the revelation that he had attended lavish Trudeau Foundation meetings where Chinese millionaire lobbyists were present.
Forum notes that Trudeau remains the most popular political party leader in the country. The approval gap between his Liberal Party and the rival Conservatives is closing, however.
Canada’s CBC suggests the approval ratings are not out of the ordinary, citing the approval ratings of his predecessors while having served the same amount of time in office. CBC adds, however, that “the current prime minister’s disapproval rating is five points lower than either of his two predecessors at this stage of their mandate.” Trudeau is significantly more popular at this juncture in his tenure than his father, the leftist radical Pierre Trudeau, was, however, whose approval rating stood at 34 percent at the same point in his term.
Placing an exclamation point at the end of the news of his popularity collapse, Trudeau attended a town hall in Calgary Tuesday in which he was greet with, at best, extreme skepticism. In a vivid recounting of the event, CBC reports that “a few voices in the crowd frequently peppered the prime minister with heckles” and “an elderly man seated in the last row of the crowd persistently badgered the prime minister throughout the event, asking him if he had ever gone without a meal, and made other inaudible comments about Fidel Castro and Chinese Communists.”
In contrast, the report notes that “a group of girls” came to the Prime Minister’s defense, shouting “we love you, Justin!” at the head of government.
Trudeau responded to hecklers by treating the town hall like a classroom. “As a teacher, I try not to reward bad behaviour by giving them too much attention,” he said, recalling his years in classes. Protesters outside the event, CBC notes, had also not forgotten the Prime Minister’s former career, brandishing signs reading “Go Back to Teaching Drama.”
Trudeau’s toughest moment during the town hall, however, was not the booing, but answering a pointed question from a man demanding to know what Trudeau meant when he said he was considering “phasing out” oil sands from the nation’s economy, a key job source in Alberta. Trudeau had later walked back his comments.
“You’ve been saying two different messages,” a town hall attendee said. “Down east, you’ve been telling people that you want to kill the single-biggest employer in our province… You’re in Alberta right now sir, you’re not in Ottawa. Yet, when you come to Calgary, you tell people you’re sorry… You’re either a liar or you’re confused.”
“I have been extremely consistent,” Trudeau replied to the town hall questioner.
The anger against Trudeau over his on-again, off-again calls to end the fossil fuel industry in Alberta have somewhat shifted the focus of his opponents back onto policy away from the various corruption scandals surrounding his tenure. Since 2017 began, Trudeau has been facing criticism for a New Year’s Eve trip to the Bahamas, where he and his family stayed on the private residence of the Aga Khan, the head of the Ismaili Muslim sect, a branch of Shia Islam.
Trudeau’s office initially refused to tell reporters where the Prime Minister had spent the new year, triggering criticism of a nominally “transparent” administration. When the office finally revealed his destination, it became clear that Trudeau had crossed an ethics line, accepting a private helicopter ride to the Aga Khan’s personal island in the Bahamas. Both Liberal Party and Canadian government ethics rule prohibit the Prime Minister from doing this without requesting prior authorization from the ethics office. Trudeau is currently facing an unprecedented ethics probe over the incident, and has revealed this not to be the first such vacation he has taken with the religious leader.