Federal Liberals’ support still riding high a year after the election

A variety of opinion polls place support for the party consistently in the mid-40s to low 50s.

OTTAWA — It was a year ago today that Canadians headed to the polls in a federal election that elevated the third-place Liberals and Justin Trudeau into power with a comfortable 15-seat majority in the House of Commons.

And, the political honeymoon for the Liberals appears little diminished a year later, with a variety of opinion polls placing support for the party consistently in the mid-40s to low 50s and the prime minister’s personal approval ratings even higher.

Phillip Resnick, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, suggests the ongoing honeymoon is partly due to how Liberal policies on infrastructure spending, climate change and international co-operation continue to resonate with many Canadians.

The Liberals’ first year in office has seen a variety of measures, including an influx of Syrian refugees, environmental pledges, upper income tax hikes, health care promises and indigenous commitments.

But now that the Liberals have put a hold on health care transfer increases, maintained the old Conservative carbon cutting targets, fought First Nations in court and approved a major liquefied natural gas plant in BC, there is some grumbling across the land.

Still, the change in tone and style from the former Conservative government has yet to lose its novelty.

This was illustrated last week when more than 2,000 people appeared for a Trudeau visit in Medicine Hat, Alta., a traditional Liberal desert where Conservative Jim Hillyer, who died of a heart attack earlier this year, took 65% of the popular vote last Oct. 19.

The Liberals still have plenty of hard tasks ahead. They include creating a new infrastructure investment bank, a recreational marijuana market, plotting a path to emissions targets, hashing out home care and pharmacare promises and revamping the electoral system.

Katherine Fierlbeck, a political science professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, notes that Trudeau’s “sunny ways” mantra stands in stark contrast to the venomous presidential election spectacle fast approaching its climax south of the border.

“I suspect the Trudeau Jr. glow has lived as long it has precisely because of what’s going on in the States right now,” said Fierlbeck.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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