The Liberal Party’s popularity is slipping on the heels of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 10-stop cross-country town hall tour, as mounting concern about Canada-U.S. trade relations and the cash-for-access controversy erodes his comfortable advantage over opposition leaders, according to the latest Nanos Weekly National Ballot Tracking.

The data shows the Liberals’ current ballot support slipping below 40 per cent, as the opposition Conservatives climb into the 30 per cent range. The NDP has flat-lined in recent weeks, garnering favour with 16 per cent of Canadians surveyed.

“Justin Trudeau has the advantage, but we are seeing a negative trend line,” pollster Nik Nanos told CTV’s Power Play. “Usually when the Prime Minister of Canada goes on a charm offensive out to talk to Canadians, it’s intended to drive the numbers up.”

Nanos points to a confluence of events, including the ongoing spotlight on Liberal fundraising activities where well-heeled donors pay to attend exclusive events where they can bend the ears of key policy makers, and growing uncertainty around Canada’s future trade dealing with the U.S. under President Donald Trump.

“I would say that there is a dark cloud right now in terms of our relationship with the United States, just because the level of uncertainty is so high,” he said. “The reality is people are worried about NAFTA.”

On Monday, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton warned Canada could become “collateral damage” in the Trump administration’s push to rethink trade deals.

However, Stephen Schwarzman, who leads Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, said Canada need not be “enormously worried” about a looming trade overhaul following a private meeting with Trudeau during the recent two-day ministers’ retreat in Calgary.

Nanos declined to speculate about Kevin O’Leary’s impact on the Conservative's momentum following the reality TV personality and businessman’s recent entrance into the party’s leadership race, saying only that his presence may be causing other contenders to “up their game on the policy front.”

Wynne contagion weighs on Trudeau

Nanos also notes Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s waning popularity may be partially to blame for tarnishing the broader Liberal brand. Harsh criticism aimed at Wynne over soaring hydro bills has put the province’s Liberal and Conservative parties in a dead heat among those surveyed in the province.


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.