The Conservative Party has gained a substantial lead on the Liberals as the SNC-Lavalin affair leaves Canadians suspicious.
A new poll puts Andrew Scheer's Conservatives seven points ahead of the Liberals, gaining the favour of 38 per cent of voters, putting them in majority government territory, compared to 31 per cent for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's party, according to an Angus Reid Institute report.
The majority of Canadians, 66 per cent, believe the SNC-Lavalin affair points to a deeper scandal in the Prime Minister's Office, the poll found. And two-thirds of Canadians believe SNC-Lavalin should be prosecuted, potentially resulting in a 10-year ban on the Quebec-based engineering company receiving public contracts.
"It's about perceived and real lack of transparency that the Trudeau government has been scrambling, unsuccessfully, to fix," said Angus Reid executive director Shachi Kurl. "The lack of detail enables people's speculation."
Trudeau has faced ongoing political backlash for his role in the SNC-Lavalin affair since late last week, when the online poll was conducted. Sixty per cent of Canadians have an unfavourable opinion of him and over the last month, 59 per cent of respondents said their opinion of Trudeau has worsened.
But it appears no party leader is particularly popular. Fifty-four per cent of Canadians think Scheer is unfavourable, and 64 per cent think the NDP's Jagmeet Singh is unfavourable. It is standard for party leaders not to be very well known or popular until weeks before the election, Kurl said.
Watch: SNC-Lavalin allegations leave Justin Trudeau facing questions. Story continues below
Over the past month, how Canadians view Scheer and Singh has not drastically changed — 55 per cent and 64 per cent of respondents, respectively, feel the same way about each leader.
"What we see now is Scheer has been able to make swings that hit Trudeau but that hasn't translated to his own gains," Kurl said. "Six months is eons in an election, and the question becomes can Scheer translate the general anger and dissatisfaction towards Trudeau into successfully offering himself up as an alternative to the prime minister-ship?"
The Liberal party has fallen out of favour in areas that helped it win the 2015 election, including in Ontario and B.C., and with NDP supporters, the poll found. For example 46 per cent of NDP supporters said their opinion of Trudeau has worsened, and 51 per cent said it stayed the same, with the remaining four per cent said it improved.
"What I note from these numbers is the anger and lack of benefit of the doubt or good will from NDP voters," Kurl said. "A big part of Trudeau's win was coalescing left support under his banner."
The poll surveyed 1,009 Canadian adults between Feb. 21 and 24, 2019. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.