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Poll: Stephen Harper named most unpopular Canadian Prime Minister in half a century

What a legacy!

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What a legacy!

According to a new poll by Abacus Data, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has earned the honour of being named Canada’s least popular prime minister in the last half century.

While “views of Stephen Harper may soften somewhat with the passage of time,” a summary provided by Abacus says, “for the moment, he has by far the highest negatives.”

The poll found 55% of Canadians reported a ‘negative impression’ of Harper, placing him last among all prime ministers going back as far as 1968.

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On negative impressions, Harper ranks behind Brian Mulroney (32% negative), Jean Chretien (25% negative) and Pierre Trudeau (24% negative).

Overall, taking positive and negative impressions together, Harper’s net favourability rating was -28%  worst among the six former prime ministers listed by the poll: 

1. Pierre Trudeau: +18

2. Jean Chretien: +11

3. Paul Martin: +1

4. Joe Clark: 0

5. Brian Mulroney: -11

6. Stephen Harper: -28

The poll found Harper had a lower net-negative rating among women (-32%) compared to men (-25%) and lower among those under 45 years (-32%) compared to those older than 45 (-25%).

Harper fared better among Conservatives, with four in five reporting positive impressions of their former leader who was defeated in last October’s election, however, Liberal and NDP supporters were nearly unanimous (-75%) in holding negative impressions of Harper.

Abacus Chairman Bruce Anderson says the poll results confirm “Mr. Harper is a polarizing figure” and “helps underscore the fact that the last election became for many voters a question of how best to get a new Prime Minister.”

“Right now, only 43% say they would consider voting Conservative,” Anderson adds, pointing out this pool of possible voters is much smaller than the number of voters who would consider voting for other parties.

“This underscores one of the central challenges facing the Party,” Anderson says, “whether it needs to do more to draw in more progressive Conservatives or remain more true to the vision of Stephen Harper and reject that idea.”

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