Poll shows most Canadians believe PM Trudeau has done wrong in the SNC-Lavalin controversy

As the federal Liberal’s SNC-Lavalin scandal progressed this week with the resignation of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s right-hand man, Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, a new poll conducted by Leger for The Canadian Press shows that 41 percent of respondents believe the Prime Minister has done something wrong involving the Montreal engineering company.

Among respondents who identified themselves as Liberal supporters, 10 percent believe the Prime Minister has done something wrong, 27 percent believe he hasn’t, and 55 percent aren’t sure. Among Conservatives, 66 percent believe the Prime Minister has done something wrong, 4 percent believe he has not, and 28 percent aren’t sure. In a question about which party leader would make the best Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau received the support of only 26 percent of respondents, down 7 percent from a similar poll Leger conducted in November 2018. The poll was conducted after Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned from the cabinet but mostly before Mr. Butts quit the Prime Minister’s Office on February 18.

Leger’s executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the Prime Minister has “not found a way to reassure Canadians or … been clear enough about his involvement, what he said or did not say, so that a lot of Canadians right now are holding it up against him because they don’t know all the ins and outs to make up their own mind.” Mr. Bourque said the firm’s polling in February is the first time since the 2015 election that the Conservatives have been ahead of the Liberals in overall support. Leger found 36 percent of respondents saying they would vote Conservative if an election were held that day, to 34 percent for the Liberals, 12 percent for the New Democratic Party, 8 percent for the Greens and 4 percent for the People’s Party. Mr. Bourque said it’s interesting that Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer is failing to pick up the slack, noting, “There’s nobody right now that’s capturing the minds and hearts of Canadians and probably explains why voting intentions are so close while we see that the prime minister is actually showing signs of weakening in terms of support.

As PM Trudeau's Principal Secretary and close personal friend Gerald Butts resigned from his position in the PMO this week, he denied allegations that he or anyone else in PM Trudeau's office pressured then-Attorney General Wilson-Raybould regarding SNC-Lavalin prosecution. Mr. Butts said he was leaving because it was becoming a distraction from the work of the government, which opponents viewed as evidence of wrongdoing. On Tuesday, PM Trudeau's cabinet met for the first time in person since the scandal broke, including Ms. Wilson-Raybould, and PM Trudeau said the meeting was held at her request. Speaking in front of cameras she confirmed she is still a Liberal MP but wouldn't comment further, citing solicitor-client privilege. That afternoon, Liberal MPs on the House Justice Committee changed their position and agreed to invite Ms. Wilson-Raybould to testify in their investigation. On his way into Question Period, the Prime Minister faced the cameras and apologized to Ms. Wilson-Raybould for not condemning sooner the personal attacks against her by unnamed Liberal sources in the days after the SNC-Lavalin controversy began unfolding.