Federal Government Job Approval: 43% Approve /37% Disapprove; Highest rated on economic management

According to a new national survey from Ottawa-based Abacus Data, a plurality of Canadians (49%) believe the country is headed in the right direction and are more likely to approve (43%) of the job the Federal Government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is doing than disapprove (37%).

Right Direction/Wrong Track

Nationally, almost one in two Canadians surveyed (49%) said that generally speaking the Canada was headed in the right direction while three in ten (31%) believed it was headed on the wrong track.  Twenty percent were unsure.

The level of optimism among Canadians stands in stark contrast to our neighbours south of the border where a recent Ipsos/Reuters poll found that only 21% of Americans believed the U.S. was headed in the right direction compared with 73% who thought it was on the wrong track (Ipsos/Reuters, August 4-11).


Regionally, residents of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia were most likely to believe Canada was headed in the right direction while Quebec was the only region where residents were more likely to believe Canada was headed on the wrong track than in the right direction (Quebec – right direction 35%, wrong track 41%).

Not surprisingly, opinion was strongly related to political support with 88% of Conservative Party supporters believing Canada was headed in the right direction compared to 32% of Liberal supporters and 27% of NDP supporters.

“Canadians are far more optimistic about where their country is headed as compared to Americans,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.  “Everything is relative.  All the problems south of the border and the constant reassurance by the Harper government of Canada’s good position has kept Canadians relatively positive despite the darkening economic clouds moving in.”

Federal Government Approval Rating

Although almost a majority of Canadians believe the country is headed in the right direction, fewer Canadians approve of the job the federal government has done in managing the country.  Over four in ten Canadians (43%) said they either strongly or somewhat approve of the job of the federal government led by Stephen Harper.  Another 37% either strongly or somewhat disapprove while 20% said they neither approve nor disapprove.Approval is highest among Conservative supporters (89%), men (50%), Canadians over 60 years of age (51%), and in the Prairies and Alberta.  Disapproval is highest among women (36%), in Quebec (25%) and among Canadians with a university degree (36%).“The Harper Government has kept its base united – Conservatives, men, older Canadians, and those in English Canada generally approve of the job they are doing,” said Coletto.  “Their only areas of significant weakness is among women (approve 36%/disapprove 41%), the highly educated (36% approve/49% disapprove), and Quebecers (25% approve/49% disapprove).”

Job Approval by Policy Area
Respondents were asked to rate the federal government in nine policy areas.  Although ratings were relatively consistent across the policy areas, the government received higher and lower ratings in a number of them.Canadians were most likely to approve of the federal government’s handling of economy with 46% saying they approve while only 17% saying they disapprove.  Along with the economy at least four in ten Canadians approved of the job the federal government was doing with national defence (42%) and international trade (42%).

The government received its lowest rating on immigration with only 27% of Canadians approving of the government’s job performance.  All other areas including foreign affairs, crime reduction, job creation, taxation, and deficit reduction had about equal numbers of Canadians approving and disapproving.

“In these uncertain global economic times, it is striking and significant that the Conservative government is rated highest in its handling of the economy,” said Coletto. “The government has staked its reputation on its ability to manage the Canadian economy and thus far, a large segment of the population agrees that it is doing a fine job at it.

Download the full report


Between August 12 and 15, 2011 Abacus Data Inc. conducted an online survey among 1,003 randomly selected Canadian adults from an online panel of over 150,000 Canadians. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is comparable to +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Results of the survey were statistically weighted by gender, age, region, and education using census data from Statistics Canada and by past vote using Elections Canada results from the 2011 General Election. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

For more information about the survey findings, please contact Dr. David Coletto, CEO Abacus Data Inc. at (613) 884-4730 or david@abacusdata.ca