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TORONTO -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a new cabinet partly designed to appeal to the Prairies provinces on Tuesday, but his government still faces a major regional divide among voters.

During the latest episode of the Trend Line podcast, pollster Nik Nanos said the Liberals are polling some 40 percentage points behind the Conservatives in the West.

The numbers show Conservatives have 56.3 per cent support in the Prairies, compared to the Liberals at 16.9 per cent.  

“Right now Canada is still divided,” Nanos said. “The West still remains alienated. Quebecers are looking at the Bloc and what the Liberals have tried to do today is put a thick gob of red paint over all these cracks in the federation.”

In a move largely seen as a way to ease the divide in the West, Chrystia Freeland, who was born in Alberta but represents Toronto, was moved to minister of intergovernmental affairs and deputy prime minister, while Jonathan Wilkinson, who grew up in Saskatchewan but now represents North Vancouver, was handed the environment portfolio.

“What it looks like the Liberals are trying to do is to just piece together a semblance of a national cabinet that includes people that can at least claim that they have a western voice -- that they’re not tone deaf,” Nanos said.  “The fact of the matter is, when you're looking at individuals like Freeland and Wilkinson, they can say that they're from the Prairie provinces.

In Quebec, the Liberals hold a lead of just 4.2 percentage points over the Bloc Quebecois with 35.8 per cent support in the province.

The promotions of Quebec MPs Francois-Philippe Champagne and Jean-Yves Duclos into prominent ministerial roles -- foreign affairs and president of the Treasury Board of Canada respectively -- are seen as an attempt to appease voters in Quebec.

 “What we're seeing here is, on the one hand, (Trudeau) trying to fill the gap in western Canada, at the same time trying to elevate Quebecers to more important positions in the cabinet as he tries to kind of reconcile alienation in western Canada with Quebecers,” Nanos said. 


The data is based on a dual frame (land + cell-lines) random telephone interviews using live agents of 1,000 Canadians using a four week rolling average of 250 respondents each week, 18 years of age and over. The random sample of 1,000 respondents may be weighted by age and gender using the latest census information for Canada. The interviews are compiled into a four week rolling average of 1,000 interviews, where each week the oldest group of 250 interviews is dropped and a new group of 250 interviews is added.

A random telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians is accurate ±3.1 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.