The Big 5 – Trust, Truth and 2019

UPDATED March 29, 2019 5:58pmET

CPAC launches The Democracy Project with a five-part series on PrimeTime Politics about truth and trust — and how both will play a role in five facets of the 2019 federal campaign.

The issues. The threats to our democracy from within Canada and beyond our borders. The party leaders. The key battlegrounds. And voters themselves.

Join us all week on PrimeTime Politics:



Voters place their trust in politicians to make their lives better. But in what areas?

Two of the biggest issues for Canadians, according to Abacus Data, are affordability and climate change.


Housing prices have the biggest impact on affordability, especially for millennials.

In major cities it’s getting harder and harder to buy a house. Vancouver was even named the second-least affordable city in the world last year with an average house price of $1.5 million.

But it’s not just housing costs that make it hard for Canadians to build financial security. In 2018 the average Ontario household spent more than $85,000. A quarter of that went to housing, but about $15,000 was to pay taxes, with $12,000 on average for transport and $8,000 for food.

CPAC’s Andrew Thomson explains more:

Economics professor Steve Ambler (Université du Québec à Montréal) joined Peter Van Dusen for analysis on the affordability question:


The cost of climate change — both environmentally and financially, is also a top issue.

Some voters want stronger action from their governments. Others are skeptical that carbon pricing will help slow climate change, grow the economy, or keep money in peoples’ pockets.

More from CPAC’s Andrew Thomson:

The federal government has constantly reasserted it has the right to impose a “backstop” carbon price on provinces and territories considered to fall short of certain benchmarks in the 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Besides Ontario, the system will apply to Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan.

Ottawa estimates 70 per cent of families in those four provinces will get back more than what they pay in carbon taxes thnaks to rebates from the federal government.

More analysis from Mark Cameron (Canadians for Clean Prosperity) and Kenneth Green (Fraser Institute):

The backstop would begin at $20 per tonne and rise to $50 by 2022, with: a carbon tax on gasoline (an average of 4.42 cents per litre), diesel fuel, natural gas, and other fossil fuel products, and pollution-based pricing for industry.

To avoid that, provinces and territories were to implement by the beginning of 2019:

  • carbon pricing that addresses greenhouse gas emissions across a common set of sectors and sources (i.e. energy, transportation);
  • a system that uses either a carbon tax (as in British Columbia) starting at $10 per tonne and rising to $50 per tonne by 2022, or a cap-and-trade system (as in Ontario and Quebec) that matches or exceeds the federal government’s 2030 target for reduced emissions;
  • a five-year review and regular reporting requirements.

We also hear from journalists on the big issues to come in the 2019 campaign:


Health care, the economy, and cost of living are top of mind for Canadians considering who to vote for later this year:

But concerns aren’t the same across generations. Millennials are more likely to consider affordability and climate change than taxes:

And your priorities will differ based on which party you support:

Finally, which parties do Canadians think are best qualified to tackle the big issues?

Source: Abacus Data

Watch our full interview with Abacus Data CEO David Coletto:

-Andrew Thomson and Camille Martel



There’s widespread agreement that Canadian democracy is under threat from forces both inside and outside the country.

What about “fake news” in 2019? What are the rules for online advertising and social media companies?

Facebook has faced withering criticism over personal data protection, hate speech, and disinformation. Peter Van Dusen talked to Kevin Chan, Facebook’s head of public policy in Canada, about the 2019 campaign:

Watch analysis from Elizabeth Dubois (University of Ottawa) and Craig Silverman (BuzzFeed News):

And we hear from Michael Morden of the Samara Centre for Democracy about the organization’s latest report card on democracy in Canada:

What do the numbers say?

Television remains the top source of national news for Canadians, but younger voters are much more likely to find stories on social media.

Six in 10 Canadians believe foreign influence on the 2019 election is somewhat or very likely.

But what countries? The survey suggest Canadians believe the United States should be watched as much as China or Russia.

The federal government has announced a series of measures to counter potential interference. Two-thirds of Canadians are somewhat or very confident they will work, according to Abacus Data.

Meanwhile, only 5 per cent are “very” confident in Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media companies when it comes to preventing interference.

Source: Abacus Data

Here’s more analysis from Abacus Data CEO David Coletto:


Wednesday: THE LEADERS

We look at what Canadians think about the party leaders who want their vote — and whether they can be trusted.

Academic experts Christopher Cochrane (University of Toronto) and Jennifer McCoy (Georgia State University) talk about the increase in political polarization and how some leaders have taken advantage:

How will polarization and trust play out as the leaders put themselves before Canadian voters this year? Peter Van Dusen heard from political commentators Robin MacLachlan, Tim Powers, and Susan Smith:

What the numbers say:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the most polarizing federal leaders, with the highest positive and negative feeling among voters.

Trudeau’s public standing was damaged by his March 2018 trip to India. He recovered somewhat, but the number has again fallen recently amidst the continuing SNC-Lavalin controversy.

Both positive and negative impressions for Andrew Scheer have increased since taking over the Conservative leadership.

As for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, he reached his highest positive impression in February, when he won a by-election in Burnaby South, B.C.

Asked about their preferred prime minister, Justin Trudeau remains the top choice of Canadians.

But what about babysitting? Career advice? Business acumen? Who do Canadians trust?

Source: Abacus Data

Abacus Data CEO David Coletto analyzes what the numbers mean:



Ontario. Quebec. British Columbia.

It’s no surprise those three provinces tend to determine who forms the government in Ottawa.

They account for 75 per cent of Canada’s population — and 70 per cent of seats in the House of Commons.

In 2015 there were 78 ridings decided by five per cent or less. 85 per cent (66) were in Ontario (30), Quebec (25), and B.C. (11).

The Liberals won nearly half of those ridings (36). The Conservatives prevailed in 19, and the Bloc Quebecois in six. The NDP won 17 of those ridings — representing nearly 40 per cent of the party’s seats.

Fourteen of those seats are in or around the Greater Toronto Area, with another seven nearby. About a dozen swing ridings surround the Island of Montreal. Six can be found in Metro Vancouver. And you’ll find two swing ridings each in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Quebec City.

Browse our interactive map for the 78 swing ridings from 2015 — and extensive census data on each:


Henry Jacek (McMaster University) and Laura Stone (The Globe and Mail) survey the Ontario landscape.


Daniel Béland (McGill Institute for the Study of Canada) and Manon Cornellier (Le Devoir) analyze the political dynamics in Quebec.


Ian Bailey (The Globe and Mail) and Sanjay Jeram (Simon Fraser University) look at the issues at play in B.C.


Here are mid-March national, provincial, and swing riding results from Abacus Data.

Source: Abacus Data

Watch our full segment with Abacus Data CEO David Coletto, who analyzes what the cross-Canada numbers mean for the coming campaign.



How and why do voters make their decisions?

Let’s start with a snapshot of who voted in the 2015 federal election:

Youth turnout saw a big jump. Will those first-time voters return to the polling station in 2019? Peter Van Dusen talked with three of them about what will inform their decision this time:

David Moscrop joined us to discuss his book (Too Dumb for Democracy?) on how people make their political decisions:


From Abacus Data, how certain key demographics are thinking about issues and parties in March 2019.

Suburban voters in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia are crucial to deciding any federal election. Their top issues are health care, the economy, the cost of living, taxes, and immigration. As for their party preferences, here’s what they told Abacus in mid-March:

Millennials in their 20s and early 30s are about to have more voting power than ever before. Cost of living, housing prices, and climate change are among their top five issues. And party support is more of a three-way race, with additional support for the Greens:

At the other end of the demographic spectrum, older Canadians are more likely to cite seniors’ services and the deficit as key issues. And here the Conservatives have a more significant polling lead:

As for new Canadians, economic issues and health care are top vote movers:

Of three major parties, the Conservatives have the most “locked-in” voters who won’t consider shifting their support.

Abacus Data CEO David Coletto explains the numbers: