Poll: Three-in-five Canadians would have preferred outcome of federal election held using proportional distribution

Majority of each party’s voter base say their leaders should maintain position heading into next election

In a federal election where little changed, Canadians have been left searching for value from the exercise of their franchise. The vote result was near identical to that of two years ago, and the government returned – a Liberal minority – was the government dissolved.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that four-in-five Canadians were left wondering just why the election was called. Indeed, majorities across the political spectrum say the election was “a waste of time and money and should not have been called.” One-in-five (20 per cent) – including 40 per cent of Liberal voters – disagree and feel it was a good opportunity to hear from voters.

For many, the election result would have provided more satisfaction had it been under a different seat allocation method. When shown the seat distribution under first-past-the-post (FPTP) and proportional representation (PR) systems, three-in-five (61 per cent) say they preferred the hypothetical makeup of the House of Commons under the latter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been criticized over the past six years by those who expected his promise of proportional representation in the 2015 election campaign to come to fruition. While he argued there was “no consensus” for reform after he first got elected with a majority government, Trudeau said he was open to electoral reform again near the end of the most recent campaign.

Almost every region of the country leans at least slightly toward PR when choosing between the two. The split, however, is near even in Quebec (51 per cent PR, 49 per cent FPTP). This is perhaps driven by the fact that the Bloc Québécois won 32 seats in parliament with 7.6 per cent of the vote and would thus be deprived of approximately one-quarter of its seats under a PR system.

Nonetheless, as Canadians adjust to a new reality that looks almost identical to the old one, most would like their party leaders to give it another go whenever another federal election is called. More than four-in-five NDP (83 per cent) and Bloc Québécois (90 per cent) voters would have their leader back for the next campaign, while fewer, but still a majority, of Liberal (64 per cent) and CPC (54 per cent) voters, would keep Trudeau and Erin O’Toole on respectively. Even among those least enthusiastic supporters – Conservative voters – just 25 per cent say O’Toole should step aside.

More key findings: 

  • While four-in-five (80 per cent) Canadians responded that the election was a waste of time and money, this number rises to 97 per cent of CPC supporters and 93 per cent of Bloc Québécois voters.
  • When it comes to top issues facing Canada, concerns over healthcare (43 per cent) and the COVID-19 response (30 per cent) both increased and claimed the first and third spots respectively. Sandwiched in between is the environment, chosen by 36 per cent of Canadians as one of their top three concerns.
  • Although a majority of Canadians (61 per cent) would prefer the outcome of the 2021 election were it held under a proportional representation system, there are clear partisan differences. A majority of Liberal (70 per cent) and Bloc Québécois (55 per cent) supporters say they prefer the current seat distribution, compared with eight-in-ten CPC (78 per cent) and NDP (80 per cent) voters who say they prefer the opposite.