Canadians are warming to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, according to a new poll showing the Liberal leader outpacing his rivals but still seen by many as not fit to be Prime Minister.
The latest poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid for CTV, comes as Liberal Party faithful gather in Montreal for their biennial convention.
Responses to the poll, when compared with results from two months ago, show Mr. Trudeau has made gains, particularly among respondents in vote-rich Ontario and the Prairies.
When respondents were asked who they most trust, who most has a vision of Canada worthy of supporting and who most wants to be Prime Minister for the "right reasons," Mr. Trudeau outpaced Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. However, slim margins separated the three leaders in many of the responses.
Mr. Harper continues to be seen as the best option for managing the economy during lean times – 43 per cent of respondents referred him in such a scenario, ahead of 30 per cent for Mr. Trudeau and 27 per cent for Mr. Mulcair. However, 52 per cent of respondents said Mr. Harper was most likely to have a hidden agenda, compare to 32 per cent for Mr. Trudeau and 16 per cent for Mr. Mulcair.
The results show momentum gathering around Mr. Trudeau, but also that his support base is widening across Canada, Ipsos Reid senior vice president John Wright said. In many answers, Mr. Trudeau saw double-digit gains in Saskatchewan and Manitoba over previous polls, along with gains in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.
"This is all about geography, and he's starting to move into certain areas where the Conservatives need to maintain their ground," Mr. Wright said in an interview.
The Ipsos Reid-CTV poll shows Mr. Trudeau , in particular, faring better than Mr. Mulcair in the bid to be seen as the alternative to the Prime Minister – despite the NDP leader's lauded performances in Question Period over the past year, during which the Senate scandal has left Mr. Harper on the defensive. "The split in the vote on the left is starting to coalesce around the Liberals, as opposed to the NDP," Mr. Wright said, adding: "The question is whether it can be sustained over the next year" leading up to the 2015 election.
The poll asked 11 questions to respondents who then chose which of the three leaders best suited the statement.
When asked who voters can trust, 38 per cent said Mr. Trudeau, with 31 per cent saying Mr. Harper and 30 per cent saying Mr. Mulcair.
Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau tied at 37 per cent when voters were asked who "has what it takes to lead Canada," ahead of Mr. Mulcair at 26 per cent.
Mr. Trudeau also led when respondents were asked who will provide open, ethical government, who will best represent Canada internationally and whose values most closely reflect a respondent's values.
Respondents were also asked if they trusted Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals to manage Canada's economy. Respondents were split down the middle, though more people strongly disagreed with the statement than strongly agreed.
In another question, 26 per cent of respondents strongly disagreed Mr. Trudeau is ready to be Prime Minister, compared to 14 per cent who strongly agreed.
In another question, 60 per cent of those polled said they agreed, strongly or somewhat, that Mr. Trudeau's policies are "innovative and forward-thinking."
The poll used 1,036 responses an online panel, gathered between Feb. 14 and Feb. 19 and then weighted to more closely reflect Canada's actual voting-age population. The poll is considered by Ipsos Reid to be accurate within 3.5 per cent.