12/18/2014 12:23 EST | Updated 12/18/2014 12:59 EST

Canadians Unhappy With Harper Government's Performance, Poll Suggests


Canadians aren't feeling very positive about the direction of the country under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a new poll suggests.

But according to new numbers from Nanos Research and the Institute for Research on Public Policy, things have improved slightly for Conservatives from their darkest point last year.

The survey, released Thursday, shows 45 per cent of Canadians think the Harper government has performed poorly or very poorly, while 37 per cent rate the performance as good or very good. Last December, in the thick of the Senate expense scandal, 56 per cent of respondents told Nanos they were unhappy with the government's performance.

When asked if Canada is moving in the right or wrong direction, 48 per cent said the country is headed the wrong way, while 37 per cent think it's on the right track. While that's a six-point jump from last year, when just 31 per cent thought Canada was going in the right direction, it's a long way from the positive numbers of nearly four years ago. In 2011, 64 per cent of Canadians said the country was moving in the right direction.

Fifty per cent of Canadians think the country's reputation has either not improved or somewhat not improved from last year, while 35 per cent think it has gone up. Last year, only 18 per cent of respondents felt Canada's reputation was improving.

The poll also touched on federal-provincial relations, a timely topic in light of Harper's very public spat with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and looming concerns in Newfoundland over Canada's free trade deal with Europe. Fifty-two percent think the relationship between the federal and provincial governments hasn't improved from last year, while just 16 per cent think it has.

The numbers also show that fewer Canadians are willing to give the Harper government "average" marks on these questions than in past years. Nanos chairman Nik Nanos told The Globe and Mail the poll suggests Canada is a more "polarized" country now.

And while things have improved for Tories since 2013, the data suggests there's still more work to be done to improve their fortunes.

"Generally the view of many Canadians, of the government and its performance and the direction of the country, is still negative," Nanos told The Globe.

The poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between November 15 and 18, as part of a larger survey. It was administered both online and through the telephone (both landlines and cellphones) and is believed to have a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The survey is just the latest to be published at the conclusion of the fall session of Parliament and start of the holiday break.

On Monday, EKOS Research published a poll suggesting a federal dead-heat, with Liberals slightly ahead of Tories in voting intentions, 31.8 per cent to 30.8 per cent. Those numbers are similar to ones released by Ipsos Reid in early December showing Liberals and Tories in a virtual tie.

However, Forum Research put Justin Trudeau's team in majority government territory this week, with 41 per cent support compared to 33 per cent for the Tories.

Poll aggregator ThreeHundredEight.com has the Liberals at 36 per cent support, followed by the Tories at 32 per cent and New Democrats at 20 per cent.


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