Justin Trudeau occupies an unusual space in Canadian public opinion.
He is despised by both conservatives who fiercly criticize his economic policy and progressives frustrated by the discrepency between his soaring rhetoric and rather weak commitment to some of his most exciting promises.
And yet, the most recent polls predict that the federal Liberals, with Trudeau at the helm, will easily retain their majority government in the 2019.
TL;DR In this opinion piece, I outline the trends that will likely make Trudeau a more divisive subject than ever in 2019.
One projection, for example, shows the Liberals winning 39% of the popular vote. And as the CBC points out, Canadian history shows that parties that poll in the majority in the year before an election almost always meet expectations.
But these projections speak less to Trudeau's popularity than they do to the lack of a viable alternative.
Recent Abacus polls demonstrate that the prime minister's opposition is either relatively unknown or even more unpopular. While 35% of respondents harbour "negative" views of Trudeau and 43% maintain "positive" opinions, 27% of those polled report unfavourable "impressions" of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, compared with a 26% "postive" opinion.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh must contend with even worse poll numbers: 25% percent of respondents report "negative impressions" while only 19% express approval.
Moreover, despite his prospects for reelection, only 29% of Canadians think Trudeau "deserves" a second term, according to DART.
But perhaps the most blatant sign of Trudeau's divisiveness is the extent to which he has become a political prop.
Graham Thomson points out in an opinion piece for the CBC, for example, that Trudeau has become a recurrent rhetorical device for both the provincial NDP and Consevatives in Alberta. The leaders of both parties refer disparagingly to Trudeau in order to bolster their own popularity.
Such tactics will only engender further discontent with Trudeau. Already, thousands of people have taken to social media to voice their often vitriolic disapproval of the prime minister.
@JustinTrudeau @CityNews Trudeau is the worst prime minister of all times. He deliberately infiltrated Canada w/ massive immigrants leaving Canadians as second class citizens in their own country. House market is worst like never before while Trudeau is enjoying wealth from Dad!— canadafirst (@Canadafirst4eva) December 14, 2018
Remember when @JustinTrudeau promised electoral reform unconditionally, repeatedly, clearly, with a deadline, in his no-BS-excuses voice, making it a key campaign promise, staking his honour and reputation on keeping that promise? Remember that, Canada?#ElectoralReform#cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/9BZF63i8oj— W.A. March (@w_a_march) December 14, 2018
This individual implicates Trudeau in the ongoing spat between politicians and citizens in Alberta and Quebec:
Trudeau and Quebec can go to hell. Time for Alberta to join the US. F--k Canada— John Murphy (@jjmurph22958221) December 14, 2018
This is 100% true. All globalists are enemies of any sovereign country. Trudeau is our greatest enemy right now— Nathan (@bryttan77) December 14, 2018
The RCMP need to be investigating you.— THE PUSH (@bf24d15693a4473) December 14, 2018
Trudeau is about to say something stupid. You can tell: It happens whenever he opens his mouth....— Politically Incorrect (@VoicingSanity) December 14, 2018
Political trends in Ontario and Quebec can also be characterized, in part, as reactionary responses to the Liberal government and Trudeau, himself.
This year, voters in both provinces elected governments whose promises directly conflict with the federal Liberals' goals, especially concerning matters related to immigration.
Premiers Doug Ford and François Legault further, perhaps, represent the antithesis to Trudeau in their leadership styles. Ford, an often uncompromising political force, and Legault, an austere former businessman, offer compelling contrasts to Trudeau's spunky, tempered, and even boyish demeanour.
Across Canada, public opinion and political trends are moving away from the prime minister. At the same time, the reelection of the Liberal party to a majority government in 2019 is all but assured. The discrepancy between these two phenomena will only exacerbate the contempt with which many Canadians already view Trudeau.
For these reasons, Trudeau will be more divisive than ever next year. 2019 is shaping up to be one of the most contentious periods in recent Canadian history.