A new poll suggests Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are losing the political debate over the issue of irregular border crossings.
A majority of Canadians polled by the Angus Reid Institute say that the number of asylum seekers crossing into the country is too high, while a plurality point to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as the best major party leader to handle the issue.
The survey comes as the federal Conservatives and provincial governments put pressure on the Liberals to take control of what they’ve called a “crisis” — a sentiment that the poll suggests is also shared by a majority of respondents.
The poll — which was conducted between July 25-30 based on interviews with 1,500 members of the Angus Reid Forum, an online panel — suggests that the border issue is resonating with Canadians. Fully 70 per cent of respondents to the poll said they were either “following it in the news and discussing it with friends and family” or “seeing some media coverage and having the odd conversation.”
But despite the high level of interest, only 22 per cent of respondents were able to correctly identify the number of irregular border crossers since 2017. About half of the respondents thought the number was over 50,000, when it’s actually closer to 30,000.
Those who overestimated the rate of border crossings were also more likely to consider the situation a ‘crisis’ than those who either underestimated the number or gave the correct figure
Nevertheless, once informed about the actual number of crossings, 65 per cent of those polled said they felt that it was “too many people for Canada to handle,” with only 29 per cent stating that it’s a “manageable number of people.” Just six per cent said they felt Canada could handle more border crossers.
People who voted for the Conservatives in the last election were far more likely to say the number was too high than Liberals or New Democrat supporters. Younger and more educated respondents were more likely to say that the number of irregular border crossers was manageable.