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Prime Minister’s approval jumps after tête-à-tête with U.S. President

In the week since a post-G7 escalation in rhetoric and diplomatic tension between the U.S. and Canada, a majority of Canadians appear to have warmed to their government’s handling of trade negotiations with the Trump administration.

A pair of new studies from the Angus Reid Institute – conducted before, during, and after the fractious G7 meeting – find strong support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (62 per cent say he has handled his spat with Trump well) and for his government’s countervailing tariffs in retaliation to Trump’s on steel and aluminum (59 per cent say this is the right approach to take).

Indeed, Canadians overwhelmingly favour taking a “hard” approach toward trade negotiations with the Trump administration going forward, with seven-in-ten (70 per cent) preferring to risk further angering the President rather than taking a “soft” approach to try to win back and maintain his goodwill (30 per cent).

The tougher tone on trade from south of the border is also proving to be a political boon for the Prime Minister. After a year of continually diminishing approval, Trudeau sees a 12-point jump since the last time ARI asked Canadians to assess his performance and has regained the endorsement of a majority of Canadians (52 per cent) for the first time since last fall.

More Key Findings:

  • Canadians overwhelmingly find Trump’s reaction to Trudeau’s statements about trade “inappropriate,” with 81 per cent saying he is acting erratically and damaging trust between allies
  • Two-thirds of Canadians (65 per cent) say they are concerned that these latest escalations between the U.S. and Canada will lead to an all-out trade war between the two nations
  • Indeed, when asked whether the current public feud between the two countries is a sign of the “fundamental deterioration” of the Canada-U.S. relationship or something more fleeting, Canadians are divided: 51 per cent choose the former perspective and 49 per cent the latter
  • The surge in Trudeau’s approval rating comes alongside an uptick in support for his Liberal Party. If a federal election were held tomorrow, 36 per cent of decided and leaning voters say they would cast ballots for the Liberals, up from 30 per cent the last time ARI asked

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