Most Canadians don't want an election during COVID-19: Nanos survey

Despite looming threats of a snap election this fall following the We Charity affair, most Canadians aren’t interested in heading to the polls during the pandemic, according to a new Nanos Research survey.

The survey, released Friday, asked 1,094 Canadians if they agreed with the idea that the Liberal government and opposition parties should do everything they can to make the minority Parliament work, to avoid an election until the pandemic has substantially passed or a vaccine is available.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents agreed that an election should be avoided, with another 20 per cent saying they somewhat agreed. Eighteen per cent disagreed, with 10 per cent saying they somewhat disagree. Two per cent were unsure.

The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau to resign following the We Charity controversy, saying that their apologies for not excusing themselves from cabinet discussions regarding the $900-million contract due to their relationships with the charity aren’t good enough.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said last week that if Trudeau and Morneau don’t step down, his party plans to consult Quebecers about possibly tabling a motion of non-confidence when the House of Commons resumes in late September.

If a non-confidence vote is tabled and the Liberals lose, a federal election would be triggered.

The latest ballot tracking by Nanos Research has the Liberal Party of Canada three percentage points ahead of the Conservatives, although Trudeau still enjoys a wide lead as preferred prime minister at 33.8 per cent over outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (18.8 per cent), NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (14 per cent), Green Leader Elizabeth May (6.9 per cent) and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier (4.7 per cent).

While most Canadians don’t appear keen on a fall election, there is stronger support for a proper investigation into the We Charity affair.

Forty per cent of respondents said they want Parliament to investigate the matter fully, while 28 per cent said Parliament should instead focus on “more important matters.” Sixteen per cent said Trudeau should temporarily step down during the investigation, while 13 per cent agreed with the statement: “This is how politics works, I’m not surprised.”

Liberal strategist Greg MacEachern told CTV News that many Canadians may not be focused on the We Charity controversy at the moment.

“We don’t assume that all Canadians are as consumed by this issue when they’re thinking about how safe their kids are going to be in the fall or whether or not their RRSP is coming back or whether or not their job is coming back,” he said.

“This might be a really good time, for a variety of reasons, to have a cabinet shuffle.”

On Thursday, Trudeau told MPs during a rare parliamentary committee appearance that he did not place himself in a conflict of interest during his involvement in cabinet discussions regarding the $900-million contract for the student volunteer grant program. Trudeau also denied any direction or attempt to influence from him or his office during the discussions.

As for how the $900-million government contract should’ve been handled, 42 per cent of respondents said they preferred a competition that would have students wait longer for financial support, with 34 per cent saying it was OK to sole-source the contract to speed up the process. Twenty-four per cent of respondents said they were unsure.

The vast majority of respondents, at 80 per cent, agreed that charities must be more forthcoming and publicly accountable regarding details such as real estate holdings, cash flow and organizational structure. Sixteen per cent somewhat agreed, with three per cent disagreeing or somewhat disagreeing.

“This is a big black eye for the charitable sector in Canada,” pollster Nik Nanos told CTV News.

METHODOLOGY

These observations are based on an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,094 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between July 26th to 30th, 2020 as part of an omnibus survey. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. This study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research.