OTTAWA, September 19, 2019 – Yesterday, Time Magazine released a photograph from 2001 showing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in “brownface” and a turban at an “Arabian Nights”-themed party. Subsequent news coverage and social media conversation of additional photographs and video of three confirmed instances of brownface/blackface appear to have had an immediate, profound impact on the Liberals’ polling numbers.

According to data from H+K’s partner Advanced Symbolics Inc.’s (ASI) Polly – Canada’s only Artificial Intelligence (AI) pollster – Trudeau’s Liberals have experienced a projected drop of 23 seats in the one day following the scandal. If the election were held today, the Liberals would not retain a majority government. Before the story broke, the Liberals had climbed to 185 seats in the Polly model, up from 163 on September 13, 2019.


Polling visual

It appears that both the Conservatives and NDP are gaining almost evenly from the Liberals’ misfortune, obtaining 12 and 10 seats respectively. The current projection, however, still leaves Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives short of a majority government.

The significance of this scandal is emerging in more than the polls and projections.  Google search data for Prime Minister Trudeau and “brownface” has rapidly grown as has conversation on social media.

“This story is still developing and based on this drastic change in early polling data, we expect that the full impact has not yet been felt. We will continue to work closely with ASI to monitor this situation as it evolves,” said Elliott Gauthier, Senior Vice President and National Lead, Data + Analytics at Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

For additional analysis into the key Ridings to Watch, please visit our interactive dashboard here, built in collaboration with ASI and Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

About Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada
With seven offices across the country, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada is a leader in both public relations and public affairs. H+K delivers deep sector expertise in government relations, with in-house experts from all levels of government and across all parties. Coupled with our robust data + analytics team and creative team, H+K is the source for insights and analysis on the 2019 federal election. In addition, H+K specializes in corporate communications, marketing communications, public participation, crisis, energy, technology, health care, content marketing, social and digital communications, financial communications and transactions. Its parent company, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Inc., has offices in more than 40 countries as well as an extensive associate network; and it is a member of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), one of the world’s largest communications services groups.

About Advanced Symbolics Inc. (ASI)
ASI is proudly setting new standards in market and behavioural research. Founded in 2015, ASI is Canada’s only AI-driven polling company. ASI was the official pollster for TV Ontario during the 2018 Ontario provincial election, and has a long track record of accurately predicting elections and referendums, including the 2016 BREXITvote, 2015 Canadian Federal Election, 2016 American Presidential Election, and 2018 Ontario Provincial Election.

Media inquiries: 

Jillena Oberparleiter; (416) 413-4577; [email protected]