July 9, 2019 / 5:00 PM / 14 days ago

Canada's Trudeau regains momentum in election race after scandal: poll

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is regaining momentum after a damaging political scandal and could win a general election scheduled for October, a Nanos Research poll showed on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo

The Liberals would win 34.6% of the vote if the election were held today compared with 30.4% for the Conservatives of Andrew Scheer, the survey showed. The left-leaning New Democratic Party would take 17.9% and the Greens 8.8%, it said.

Under Canada’s electoral system, a party needs to win around 39% of the vote to gain a majority in the House of Commons. The Nanos poll, should current numbers hold, suggests the Liberals would only be able to form a minority government, leaving Trudeau reliant on other parties to push through legislation.

The Liberals had lost their lead over the Conservatives in March in a prior Nanos opinion poll, amid a scandal over alleged interference in a corporate corruption case involving SNC-Lavalin Group Inc that led to the resignation of two cabinet members.

But the momentum began to shift back to Trudeau in June, pollster Nik Nanos said in a phone interview.

“It’s women voters almost exclusively who have been driving the positive trend for the Liberals in the past six to eight weeks,” Nanos said.

“Women voters are drifting back to the Liberals after the SNC-Lavalin scandal created a significant amount of discontent.”

The shift in favor of the Liberals also coincided with an official visit to Ottawa by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the end of May, Nanos said.

During the visit, Trudeau raised his concern about women’s rights and “the new anti-choice laws being passed in a number of American states” with Pence, a social conservative and opponent of abortion.

The Pence visit also gave Trudeau an opportunity to tout the successful negotiation of a new North American trade agreement that ended uncertainty surrounding commerce with the United States, the destination for 75% of Canada’s export goods.

Unpopular budget cuts by Ontario premier Doug Ford, an ally of Scheer’s, is another factor in the Liberal rebound, Nanos said. Ontario is Canada’s most populous province.

“We’ve seen the Conservatives slide in the province of Ontario,” he said.

The latest polling by Nanos was completed on July 5 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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