A police car passes trucks parked in front of the Parliament buildings, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau’s approval rating has plummeted following criticism of his handling of the Canadian trucker protests, including bringing in emergency legislation.

Ottawa, the capital, was brought to a standstill for three weeks and border crossings with the United States were clogged as hundreds of truckers blocked streets and highways in protest at COVID vaccine mandates.

The chaos ended when Mr Trudeau enacted emergency powers not used by a prime minister for more than 50 years and dozens of people were arrested.

Nearly half of Canadians said their impressions of Mr Trudeau had worsened because of his response to the convoy, one poll found, while another said a majority of people thought his words and actions had inflamed the situation.

A Nanos Research survey found that 47 per cent of Canadians said their impressions of Mr Trudeau had worsened over his government’s response to the demonstrations, while only 20 per cent said theirs had improved.

“What’s clear from the survey is that even though Canadians generally support what the prime minister has done, his personal brand has taken a hit as a result of the truckers’ convoy protest,” Nik Nanos, a pollster, told the Globe and Mail newspaper. “There’s no political windfall for Justin Trudeau coming out of implementing the Emergencies Act.”

In a survey by the Angus Reid Institute, a polling organiszbased in British Columbia, 65 per cent of respondents said that Mr Trudeau’s remarks targeting demonstrators had made a tense situation worse.

When the protests started, Mr Trudeau called the group a “fringe minority” that held “unacceptable views.” Last autumn, he angered demonstrators further by saying that some of those opposed to vaccination were “often misogynist, often racist, too. It’s a small group but takes up space.”

“This isn’t just because of small inconveniences like not being able to eat at a restaurant,” said Ashtyn Lammers, a protester. “People have lost their livelihoods, their jobs. Friends and families have been torn apart because of the division that the prime minister has instigated.”

Canada has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, with 81 per cent of people double jabbed, and Mr Trudeau won a general election in the autumn, but again failed to win a majority.

“Quite frankly, it’s worked,” he said last month of public health restrictions and vaccine mandates. “We have seen the curves lower in Canada than elsewhere. We’ve seen lower death rates. We’ve seen quicker economic recovery because Canadians stepped up, because Canadians got vaccinated.”

Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, said: “Trudeau once distinguished himself with the ability to effortlessly communicate via feel-good symbols and imagery.

“He now unabashedly, unapologetically doubles and triples down on the politics of inflammation.”

Source: The Telegraph, National Post, 6/3/2022.

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