Liberal push to make election a referendum on pandemic only partly successful

·2 min read

OTTAWA — Four in 10 Canadians polled in a recent online survey say they're vote is being influenced by how they feel the federal government handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poll, conducted by Leger for the Association of Canadian Studies, comes as leaders are making their final push toward election day.

Association president Jack Jedwab says the Liberals really wanted this vote to be about their handling of COVID-19, and for some that is the case.

The poll can't be given a margin of error because online polls aren't considered to be a random sample of the population.

But among the 1,549 Canadians surveyed, 60 per cent said they were satisfied with Ottawa's COVID-19 response, and 40 per cent said that response was influencing their vote.

But Jedwab says the pandemic response isn't as dominant a ballot box question as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wanted it to be.

He says it has become one of several issues people are looking at as they mark their ballots, including child care, the economy, Afghanistan and guns.

The poll shows voters in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and British Columbia are extremely satisfied with how their provincial governments responded to COVID-19, but in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and most notably Alberta, the satisfaction with provincial governments is very low.

Jedwab says that is making Conservative Leader Erin O"Toole's job a little harder as he tries to distance himself from the conservative premiers in those provinces, while Trudeau takes great pains to link him with those leaders and their policies.

Trudeau is keeping a punishing schedule on the final day of campaigning with multiple in-person and virtual events in every province but Saskatchewan.

O'Toole is maintaining his pace with two events in the Greater Toronto Area.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has seven scheduled events in British Columbia, the province he adopted as his home after taking the helm of the federal New Democrats.

Polls open Monday at 9:30 a.m. and normally the results would be expected to take shape later that night. But Elections Canada warned Sunday that it may take up to four days to finish counting all the mail-in and other special ballots submitted in this election.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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