Canada should stand strong in trade negotiations

Prime Minister’s approval sees double-digit jump after tête-à-tête with U.S. President

In the week since a post-G7 escalation in rhetoric and diplomatic tension between the U.S. and Canada, a majority of Canadians appear to have warmed to their government’s handling of trade negotiations with the Trump administration.

A pair of new studies from the Angus Reid Institute – conducted before, during, and after the fractious G7 meeting – find strong support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (62% say he has handled his spat with Trump well) and for his government’s countervailing tariffs in retaliation to Trump’s on steel and aluminum (59% say this is the right approach to take).

Indeed, Canadians overwhelmingly favour taking a “hard” approach toward trade negotiations with the Trump administration going forward, with seven-in-ten (70%) preferring to risk further angering the President rather than taking a “soft” approach to try to win back and maintain his goodwill (30%).

The tougher tone on trade from south of the border is also proving to be a political boon for the Prime Minister. After a year of continually diminishing approval, Trudeau sees a 12-point jump since the last time ARI asked Canadians to assess his performance and has regained the endorsement of a majority of Canadians (52%) for the first time since last fall.

The survey also indicated that Canadians overwhelmingly find Trump’s reaction to Trudeau’s statements about trade “inappropriate,” with 81% saying he is acting erratically and damaging trust between allies.

Some 65% of respondents indicated concern that these latest escalations between the U.S. and Canada will lead to an all-out trade war between the two nations. When asked whether the current public feud between the two countries is a sign of the “fundamental deterioration” of the Canada-U.S. relationship or something more fleeting, Canadians are divided: 51% said yes.

The surge in Trudeau’s approval rating comes alongside an uptick in support for his Liberal Party. If a federal election were held tomorrow, 36% of decided and leaning voters say they would cast ballots for the Liberals, up from 30% the last time this question was asked in an Angus Reid survey.

Download a pdf with detailed tables, graphs and methodology here: