Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that 42 per cent of all Canadians surveyed supported Scheer stepping down. In fact, that was the opinion measured among Conservative voters surveyed.
The pressure is on Andrew Scheer as a survey shows that more than two-fifths of Canadians who voted Conservative in the recent federal election feel it’s time for the leader to step down, according to a new Angus Reid poll released Tuesday.
Many described Scheer’s inability to capitalize on a rocky year for the Justin Trudeau Liberals as a failure by the Conservative leader. Despite the SNC-Lavalin affair and the blackface and brownface scandals, Trudeau still captured enough votes to form a minority government.
Respondents to the poll showed a nearly even split among those who cast their ballot for the Tories on October 21st: 41 per cent believe of CPC voters feel Scheer should remain, while 42 per cent think he should step down as party leader. The poll is considered accurate within +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
On Wednesday, Scheer will meet with his new caucus for the first time since the Oct. 21 vote, and will attempt to explain why an election win failed to materialize.
The Angus Reid poll “reinforces the idea that Andrew Scheer’s days as Conservative leader are numbered and he’ll probably step down before the (leadership) convention,” said political science professor Nelson Wiseman.
“I think in a way that’s quite unfortunate.”
Should he stay or should he go?
Looking at the poll results geographically, those Tory voters in the West favoured Scheer remaining, while most of respondents in the East who voted Tory wanted him to step down.
A total of 42 per cent of Tory-voting respondents in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba think Scheer should stay, but 38 per cent of Tory-voting westerners want him gone. Conversely, 45 per cent of respondents in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada who voted Conservative think Scheer should go, while 39 per cent think he should stay.
As well, among those same voters, more than half (51 per cent) of the respondents who hold a university degree or higher think Scheer should get the boot, while 45 per cent of of those who only hold a high school diploma tend to favour Scheer staying put.
“People now get one kick at the can and then it’s over,” said Wiseman. He described a shifting political culture and atmosphere, driven by the media, as a major culprit for this new phenomenon.
“Robert Stanfield ran and lost three elections — nobody talked about getting rid of him,” Wiseman said. Stanfield ran against Pierre Trudeau in 1968, 1972 and 1974 and came within two seats of winning in 1972.
Are Canadians pleased with the election outcome?
With all the talk about Western alienation and Wexit, it’s no surprise that the poll showed that residents of Alberta (61 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (57 per cent) are upset with Trudeau’s minority win. Interestingly, more than a third (36 per cent) of Ontarians are also upset with the election results. Still, 43 per cent of Ontarians are pleased, according to the survey. As well, 45 per cent of Quebecers indicated they are happy with the Liberal minority outcome.
Will we be asked to vote again soon?
With the Liberals winning 157 seats — shy of the 170-seat threshold to gain a majority — Canadians aren’t so sure the Trudeau government will last a full four-year term. More than half (55 per cent) of respondents believe the government won’t last past the two-year mark, while 13 per cent believe the Liberal government can make it through the full term.
Before the two-year mark, the Conservatives will host their convention next spring, where the question of a leadership vote may arise. This is shocking for Wiseman, who said that at one point in history, “Once you became leader, you were the leader.”
However, Wiseman sounded caution about some elements of the poll. He pointed to bias in the sample size, noting how respondents were voluntary members of the Angus Reid Institute and that the number of responses varied among the numerous questions.