Support for Liberals plummets among Indigenous voters: poll
TORONTO -- Recent polling suggests the Liberals have dramatically lost support among Indigenous voters.
The poll from Environics Research, commissioned by the Aboriginal People’s Television Network, surveyed 1,024 Indigenous voters across the country and found 40 per cent voted Liberal in the 2015 election, but now just 21 per cent support the party.
According to the survey, 26 per cent support the Conservatives, 17 per cent support the NDP and 16 per cent support the Green Party.
However, Environics Research notes that since 58 per cent of respondents said they could still change their minds before the election on Oct. 21, the Indigenous vote is still up for grabs.
Sheila North, the former grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, told CTV News that enthusiasm for Liberals among Indigenous voters has certainly waned since the last election.
“The Liberals, back in 2015, talked a big game,” she said. “They talked a lot of nation-to-nation relationships and what we saw in the last four years was not exactly as it was sold.”
It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted between Sept. 4 and 13, before news of Trudeau’s blackface scandal broke.
The poll showed 63 per cent of Indigenous voters struggle to make ends meet and are most concerned with the environment, the economy and the government in this election.
They’re also concerned about jobs, access to drinking water, child welfare and housing.
“The climate emergency is one of the key issues at the door,” said Leah Gazan, a well-known Indigenous advocate and the NDP candidate for the riding of Winnipeg Centre.
Winnipeg Centre is one of the poorest ridings in the country, with almost 20 per cent of its population comprising of Indigenous people.
“They also do face a lot of barriers,” said Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the Liberal incumbent for the riding and an Indigenous man. “There is a lot of poverty and they want someone who’s going to champion – to try and lift them out of poverty.”
Overall, the Indigenous voters seem divided about whether the country is headed in the right direction, though 43 per cent believe the economy is getting weaker.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was asked about these numbers on Thursday. He said that he knows that more work needs to be done on things like eliminating boil water advisories and moving towards Indigenous self-government.
“We also recognize that people are impatient and I'm impatient… the Liberal government is focused on moving forward in partnership with Indigenous peoples, and we will continue to do that,” Trudeau said. “I will refer to the chief of the Assembly of First Nations who pointed out that no government in the history of this country has done more for reconciliation, for supporting Indigenous peoples than our government.”