Muslim, Jewish voters leaning away from the federal Liberals as Gaza war grinds on: poll | CBC News

A new poll suggests Muslim and Jewish voters are leaning away from the federal Liberals in voting intentions — a possible sign that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s efforts to straddle gaps in public opinion over the Israel-Hamas war are falling short.

The new poll of voting intentions by the Angus Reid Institute says the federal NDP is leading the Liberals among Muslim voters 41 per cent to 31 per cent, while the federal Conservatives are beating the Liberals among Jewish voters 42 per cent to 33 per cent.

“This does feel to the Liberals, in terms of their outreach around diaspora politics, to now be a fairly untenable situation,” Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, told CBC News.

“The Jewish diaspora is now saying, ‘You haven’t gone far enough in condemning Hamas and condemning the violence and stopping antisemitism in Canada.’ And you’ve got pro-Palestinian voters and populations, many of whom are Muslim, obviously saying, ‘You haven’t gone far enough to condemn the Israeli Defence Forces for its counterattack in Gaza.'”

The data shows only 15 per cent of Muslims polled say they would vote for the Conservatives, while just 20 per cent of Jewish voters say they would support the New Democrats.

Protesters wave a blue-and-white Israeli flag on Parliament Hill.
Protesters attend a pro-Israel rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

Kurl said that under Trudeau’s leadership, the Liberals have made a concerted effort to appeal to Muslim voters since 2015, when the Conservatives under Stephen Harper ran an election campaign that included controversial promises like a ban on the niqab and a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line.

An Environics Institute poll looking back on that election found 65 per cent of Muslims who said they voted cast their ballots for the Liberals, while only 10 per cent voted for the NDP.

“We saw the Liberals go out and court Muslims in Canada to vote Liberal,” Kurl said.

She said the Liberals appear to be feeling the fallout from trying to appease both Muslim and Jewish voters since Hamas’s attack on Israel of Oct. 7, 2023. Israeli officials say up to 1,200 Israelis were killed and 253 were taken hostage in that attack. Health authorities in Gaza say the Israeli military operation launched in response has killed almost 35,000 people.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre addresses the national Conservative caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. The Conservative Party of Canada raised more than $35 million during Pierre Poilievre's first full year as leader — and the federal Liberals brought in less than half that amount.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre addresses the national Conservative caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

In December, CBC News reported a group representing influential Canadian Muslim donors was leaving the top donor ranks of the Liberal Party, citing Trudeau’s disinclination at the time to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The government started to call for a ceasefire a few days later after that announcement.

In February, hundreds of mosques and Muslim organizations co-signed a letter telling Canadian MPs not to appear at mosques during Ramadan unless they were willing to openly call out Israel for “war crimes” or demand the government stop sending weapons to Israel.

The Liberals have pointed out that they have not exported lethal aid to Israel since the start of this latest conflict and also voted in favour of a heavily amended NDP motion that called on Canada to “cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel.”

That motion outraged many Jewish-Canadians. “We are deeply disappointed that the Liberal government has chosen to effectively sub-contract Canadian foreign policy to anti-Israel radicals within the NDP and the Bloc Québécois,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said in a media statement at the time.

No party leader making a dent with either group 

Angus Reid also polled respondents on their opinions of Trudeau, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. Fifty-one per cent of Muslims said their opinion of Trudeau had “worsened recently,” according to the Institute, while a similar share, 47 per cent, said the same about Poilievre.

Forty-seven per cent of Muslim respondents said their opinion of Singh had not changed.

Among Jewish voters, 49 per cent said their opinion of Trudeau had worsened; a slightly lower number, 38 per cent, said the same of Singh. A quarter of Jewish respondents said their opinion of Poilievre had improved, but 31 per cent reported the opposite.

By law, the next federal election must be held by October 2025.

As with most recent polls since last summer, this latest one shows the Conservatives would be in a comfortable position to form a majority government if an election were held today.

Kurl said the data held no big surprises, given recent events. “You just see the hill that the Liberals now have to climb, or call it the corner they have painted themselves into,” she said.

Editor’s note: The Angus Reid Institute survey was conducted online from April 19-23, 2024 among 3,459 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. A probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

From April 19 to May 9, the Institute also polled 166 Canadian Muslim, 164 Canadian Hindu, 165 Canadian Jewish and 118 Canadian Sikh adults online. These samples are not included in the general population sample.

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