Liberals should be ‘exceptionally concerned’ about potential recession in 2019

By Abbas Rana

Voters’ anxiety on ‘unrestricted immigration,’ says Nanos

Conservative MP David Tilson denies his party is playing politics by opposing the Trudeau Liberal government’s decision on the UN Global Compact on Migration.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals should be “exceptionally concerned” about the “very negative economic mood right now” in Canada, with potential for a recession in 2019, and the Conservatives’ attempts to paint Liberals as supporters of “unrestricted immigration,” as the combined effect could become a serious problem for the party in the next election.

“There’s a very negative economic mood right now in the country,” said Nik Nanos, president and CEO of Nanos Research in an interview with The Hill Times. “A sitting government presiding over a recession usually is not good news for the sitting government.”

According to the Nanos Research’s weekly rolling poll numbers released last week, the Liberals and the Conservatives were tied in a statistical dead heat. The numbers released on Dec. 7 indicate that the Conservatives had 34.8 per cent support nationally, followed closely by the Liberals with 34.1 per cent. The NDP had the support of 15.8 per cent, and the Green Party support was at 8.2 per cent.

In comparison, only about four weeks ago, the Liberals were leading the Conservatives by a margin of 12 points in the Nanos weekly tracking. According to the Nov. 9 numbers, the Liberals were leading the pack with 39.3 per cent support, followed by the Conservatives with 27.5 per cent support, the NDP had the support of 19.8 per cent, and the Green Party sat at 6.1 per cent.

Mr. Nanos attributed the “notable” drop in Liberal support to the psychological affect of the General Motors auto plant closing in Oshawa, Ont., last month; the low oil prices affecting the Alberta economy; and the slow pace of progress on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, on Canadians’ declining confidence on the state of the country’s economy.

A Dec. 3 Forum Research poll of 1,541 Canadians predicated that, based on numbers gleaned from a Nov. 28-29 survey, if an election were held that day, the Conservatives would win a majority government. The poll found the Conservatives had the support of 43 per cent of respondents, while the Liberals had the support of 34 per cent, the NDP had the support of 11 per cent, and the Green Party had the support of six per cent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Mr. Nanos said the federal Liberals so far have focused mainly on progressive elements of their agenda—on issues such as the marijuana legalization, gender equality, First Nations issues, or the environment—and if a recession did hit Canada next year, people will question why the Liberal government led by Prime Minister Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) did not focus more on jobs and the economy.

“They should be extremely concerned about what a potential recession in 2019 might mean for the political mood and how some voters might think, ‘Okay, you’ve spent the last three years on all these other things,’” said Mr. Nanos. “‘Can you please remind us what you’ve done in order to create prosperity in the future and tell us where our jobs are going to come from?’”

On the issue of immigration, Mr. Nanos said that with the Conservatives’ recent opposition to Canada signing the UN Global Compact on Migration, the Conservatives are trying to paint the Liberals as creating too many exceptions on “orderly or legal” migration and supporting “unrestricted” immigration.

The message from the Conservatives, Mr. Nanos said, is that by supporting “unrestricted immigration,” the Liberals are not only risking Canadian security, but also the Canadian economy.

But, he warned that the Conservatives would have to be careful in ensuring that they don’t say anything in their messaging that their opponents could use against them in portraying the Conservative leadership as “racists,” or unfriendly to diversity.


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