Canadians say these are their greatest ever prime ministers

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
June 30, 2020, 2:04 PM UTC

He’s one of the most divisive figures in Canadian politics, but more than a third of Canadians view Pierre Elliott Trudeau as a great, or near great, prime minister. 

According to a new survey conducted by YouGov in Canada, a plurality of Canadians sees the long-serving and polarizing Liberal PM  who held office from 1968 to 1979 and again 1980 to 1984  as great (16%) or near great (20%). 

And nearly the same percentage of people feel the same way about his son; Canadians view current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as great (14%) or near great (20%). 

Prairie residents aren’t nearly as likely to be singing the praises of father or son, who both encountered widespread resentment in Western Canada during re-election campaigns. Less than one in 10 (8%) prairie residents consider the elder Trudeau great and about the same (9%) say so of Justin Trudeau. 

Like his father, the younger Trudeau also sees nearly as much furor as favour, with nearly a third (32%) of Canadians believing he’s either below average or a failure. There’s only one other prime minister more widely viewed as below average or a failure: Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. 

Harper, who ushered in an era of fiscal belt-tightening following the 2008 financial crisis before losing the 2015 vote to the younger Trudeau, is viewed by 37 percent of country as below average or a failure. Roughly a quarter (24%) believe he’s great or near great.  

On the prairies, which includes Harper’s home province of Alberta, 27 percent view him as great or near great.  

Lester B. Pearson  who helped establish United Nations Peacekeeping and pushed to adopt the current Canadian flag  is great or near great in the eyes 29 percent of Canadians, while only five percent see him as below average or a failure. 

One in 10 (10%) Canadians see Kim Campbell, the only women to hold the office of the Prime Minister in Canada as great or near great while 29 percent see her as below average or a failure, perhaps due to her short, 132 days in office between June and November 1993 before being defeated by the Jean Chretien Liberals. About a quarter (26%) view Chretien, who held office until 2003, as a great or near great PM, while 19 percent think he’s below average or a failure. 

Methodology: Total sample size was 1,031 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between June 18 – 26. 2020 The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Canadian adults (aged 18+). View full results 

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