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Liberals still preferred by P.E.I. voters, despite SNC-Lavalin scandal

Justin Trudeau poses for a photo during a visit to the Red Shores Race Track last Summer. A new poll shows Trudeau's Liberals continue to be the most popular political party on P.E.I.
Stu Neatby/THE GUARDIAN
Justin Trudeau poses for a photo during a visit to the Red Shores Race Track last Summer. A new poll shows Trudeau's Liberals continue to be the most popular political party on P.E.I. - Stu Neatby

A new poll by MQO Research shows Justin Trudeau’s Federal Liberals are still the preferred choice of Island voters, weeks before an expected election call.

The poll, conducted with 400 P.E.I. residents, found the Liberal Party was the top choice of 40 per cent of decided voters. The same percentage of voters chose the Liberals in an MQO poll last April.

The Conservatives were the top choice of 34 per cent of Island voters, up two percentage points from April, while the Greens continued to climb to 21 per cent, up three points from April. NDP support dropped four points from April to four per cent. More than a quarter of Island voters remain undecided.

But there could be a catch. The poll was conducted between July 31 and August 6, a week before the federal Ethics Commissioner released his bombshell report, which found Prime Minister Trudeau had contravened the Conflict of Interest Act in relation to the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Stephen Moore, vice president of MQO Research, said national polling has suggested that the Ethics Commissioner report has not had a significant impact on voter preferences.

"I don't think we've seen the ethics commission move the needle much,” Moore said.

"The three biggest priorities in Atlantic Canada now federally are really focused around healthcare, environment, climate change and taxation. Questions around accountability and SNC and those types of things are really much farther down."

Liberal support in P.E.I. had dropped 12 per cent between January and April, during the time in which the SNC-Lavalin scandal dominated the headlines. The new poll seems to indicate that this decrease in support had plateaued over the Spring and Summer.

"I think any damage has already been done,” Moore said.

Moore said the federal Greens have been trending upward significantly since January, jumping from 10 per cent to 21 per cent support.

Green support is strongest in Queens County, Moore said, while Liberal support is highest in Prince. Tory support does not vary between P.E.I.’s three counties.

"The Tory support throughout the region is very consistent. And the only factor that's changing from region to region is the level of Green support," Moore said.

"The big question is, to what extent will the Greens actually be able to mobilize voters. That's the first one. The second one is, if they are able to, how much of a spoiler can they play for the Liberals in some ridings."

Trudeau’s personal popularity also seems to be trending upwards. Trudeau was the preferred Prime Minister of 40 per cent of voters, up five percentage points from April. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was the preferred Prime Minister of 30 per cent of voters, down one point, while Green leader Elizabeth May was the preferred choice of 19 per cent of voters, down two points.

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh was the preferred choice of nine per cent of voters, unchanged since April.

Moore said Tory support has remained relatively level on P.E.I. over the last year. Scheer has not polled as high as Trudeau with female voters.

"He struggles more amongst females - it's the natural dynamic between Scheer and Trudeau," Moore said.

“The challenge is that there's more undecided females than males. So that is an audience that Tories struggle with."

The margin of error for polling questions related to party preference was ± 5.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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