Poilievre: too right; Trudeau: too left

Most Canadians define their politics around the centre of the political spectrum, but Trudeau and Poilievre aren't seen as centrist figures.

Mar 22, 2024

New public opinion from spark*insights finds that most Canadians define their politics around the centre, either with a lean conservative on economic and fiscal issues or a lean progressive on social and environmental issues.

But how do voters personal preferences compare with the kind of leadership Pierre Poilievre and Justin Trudeau offer?

Poilievre is tilted too much towards the right, and Justin Trudeau has the opposite challenge – he is seen as too oriented towards the left.


Only 14% of Canadians define their ideal government as “left” while twice that many prefer to see themselves as centrist with a progressive leaning on social and environmental issues.

However, 33% of Canadians view the government of Justin Trudeau as “left”. While 37% want a government that is “centrist with a lean conservative on fiscal and economic issues” only 24% see the Trudeau government as having this orientation.

The implication is clear in terms of what it might take to improve the competitiveness of the Liberal brand – get closer to being seen as centrist – 66% of Canadians place themselves there, while only 52% of Canadians see the Trudeau Liberals that way. In particular, closing the gap doesn’t mean less progressive social and environmental policy – but more of a conservative approach on fiscal and economic policy.

At the same time, while horserace and leader preference polls show a clear current advantage for the Conservatives and Pierre Poilievre, these results illustrate that the positioning of the Conservatives and their leader is not perfect either. Only 51% expect Poilievre would run a centrist government. And while 20% want a right of centre government, twice as many people think that’s what they would get with Mr. Poilievre as Prime Minister. What people are looking for is not a different economic policy approach as much as a more progressive attitude on social and environmental matters.


According to Bruce Anderson: “The horserace and leadership preference polling has in recent months accurately described an emerging advantage for Pierre Poilievre and the Conservative Party. But somewhat missing from the discussion sometimes is whether or not the Conservatives and Mr. Poilievre are really what Canadians are looking for, as opposed to being popular by virtue of being different from the incumbents. These numbers suggest that there are doubts about Mr. Poilievre and the Conservatives – of a similar magnitude of those facing the Liberals. Voters want a more centrist Liberal Party and a more progressive Conservative Party. They want more conservative fiscal and economic thinking from the Liberals and more progressive thinking from the Conservatives on social and environmental matters.”

The data referenced were gathered online, with a representative sample of 1700 adults across Canada, between the dates March 12, 2024 and March 15, 2024.

About spark*insights

spark*insights is lead by Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading and most experienced public opinion researchers, along with Alex Kohut, former Senior Manager of Research & Advertising in the Office of the Prime Minister. From polling and research to analysis and guidance, we help organizations, uncover the factors driving or influencing public perception to gain valuable insights into the shape and movement of the landscape.

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