Two-thirds of Manitobans say there was no good reason for Justin Trudeau to put pandemic-weary Canadians through a snap election.

Two-thirds of Manitobans say there was no good reason for Justin Trudeau to put pandemic-weary Canadians through a snap election.

A new poll shows Liberal voters are particularly irked by the premature vote.

"(Liberals) are not happy that there’s an election, (but) they’re voting for the party that called the election," said Leger executive vice-president Andrew Enns, whose firm was commissioned by the Free Press to poll Manitobans about the federal election campaign.

Trudeau has helmed the minority federal government since October 2019.

Methodology

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LEGER surveyed 600 of its Manitoba panelists Sept. 3 to 8, and weighed rules based on the 2016 census results for age, gender and education on a regional basis.

Online surveys are not based on probabilities and thus cannot have a margin of error, however an equivalent phone poll would have a margin of error of 4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Leger surveyed 600 Manitobans from Sept. 3 to 8, and found roughly 23 per cent of respondents are less likely to vote Liberal, specifically because of the early election call.

Liberal supporters were more annoyed than people who said they supported other parties that this election was called early; 72 per cent of Grits said "the election could have waited until next year or later," versus 66 per cent of Manitobans in general.

"It doesn’t make them enthusiastic voters for the Liberal party, and I think that might be indicative of why the Liberals, in general, haven’t been able to get a real groundswell and momentum going in this campaign," Enns said.

He argued the Liberals have failed to make inroads with voters on anything except gun policies.

"They haven’t really sustained a drive in this campaign."

Just 24 per cent of respondents agreed that "now is a good time to have an election."

Some premiers called snap provincial elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the rise of the delta variant and the lack of a clear election issue seem to have kept voters focused on the Liberals calling an early vote, resulting in poor poll numbers.

"Those low numbers for Justin Trudeau is just a sense that he had hubris calling the election," said University of Manitoba political scientist Christopher Adams. "Many people here in Manitoba feel he could have just proceeded on governing with his minority."

The Tories, including their Winnipeg candidates, constantly mention the election was unnecessary, given the Liberals never failed any confidence vote.

"The prime minister decided to call an election in a pandemic, so it really puts 38 million Canadians in a very, very awkward position," Conservative incumbent Marty Morantz said last month, as he campaigns to hold down his Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley seat.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has dubbed the vote a "selfish" election.

Liberal campaigners in Winnipeg say the election remains a common topic at the doors, while the party leadership has tried to change the channel by raising various wedge issues, such as vaccinate mandates, gun regulations and healthcare privatization.

On Thursday night, the timing topic was once again among the big-ticket items at the English-language leaders debate at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

At one point, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Trudeau should have focused on evacuating Canadians and Afghans who supported Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan, following the recent withdrawal of U.S. forces, rather than calling an election.

"You called an election, sir. You put your own political interests ahead of the well-being of thousands of people," O’Toole said.

When Trudeau tried to respond, he was told by the debate moderator it wasn’t time for open debate.

The two-hour debate began with tough questions for each of the leaders.

To Trudeau, it was why he called an election just as a fourth wave of COVID-19 was sweeping the country.

He argued the debate would show voters have to choose among radically different views on how to finish the fight against COVID-19 and build the country back up.

— with files from The Canadian Press 

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

Dylan Robertson

Dylan Robertson
Parliamentary bureau chief

In Ottawa, Dylan enjoys snooping through freedom-of-information requests and asking politicians: "What about Manitoba?"

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