Justin Trudeau
© Blair Gable /REUTERS
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to discuss health care with provincial and territorial premiers in Ottawa, Feb. 7, 2023.
It's a little surprising that 67% of Canadians polled by Leger for the National Post agree with the statement, "It feels like everything is broken in this country right now."

That's a variation on the common poll question, "Is the country headed in the wrong direction?" and I have seldom seen a negative answer so high.

It might even be doubly surprising because the "Canada is broken" mantra is closely aligned with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre. For a lot of poll respondents, agreeing that the country is dysfunctional is equivalent to admitting they kind of, sort of think Poilievre might be onto something.

But what is really, truly surprising is that the most pessimistic Canadians are women and younger people, not grumpy, old men.

Women think Canada is broken more than men do, by a margin of 70% to 64%, just as Canadians under 55 are even more pessimistic than those over 55 - 72% to 61%.

Totally unsurprising is the fact that Westerners are more convinced Canada is a mess than are the residents of other regions. Given that the Trudeau government goes out of its way to anger and repress the West, it's consistent that nearly three-quarters of Manitobans, Saskatchewanians and Albertans feel the country isn't working.

Even the most optimistic Canadians, Quebecers, are still 59% in a dark mood.

(The irony in that number is that the most-contented Canadians - or the least-discontented - are residents of the province that is the least committed to Confederation. Although maybe that's not ironic given how vigorously the Trudeau government panders to the PM's home province.)

Leger found Canadians' top concerns were inflation and health care - two issues that have direct impact on most people's lives. Sixty-eight per cent find inflation a growing burden, while 59 per cent are concerned about the state of health care. Will there be a doctor or ER or hospital bed if they need one?

Many health-care workers will say privately that now is not a good time to get into an accident or catch a bad flu.

But what must truly keep politicians up at night are respondents' answers to whether governments are doing enough to solve these problems. On both subjects, only about a quarter think Canadian leaders are taking their concerns seriously.

For the federal Liberals, who cling to minority power by their fingernails (and thanks the toadying submission of Jagmeet Singh and the NDP), this disconnect must cause their strategists heart palpitations.

Justin Trudeau swept to power in 2015 largely because voters thought he and the Liberals were more in touch with, as the saying goes, where they lived and with what was important to them.

Now Trudeau and the Liberals appear to be about as out-of-touch with ordinary voters as any government I can remember.

Fewer than half of voters for whom inflation and health care are top-of-mind think the Liberals are doing enough. It's bad enough for politicians when voters think leaders don't understand them on esoteric issues, such as foreign relations and tax policy. But when elected officials come to be seen as out-of-touch on basic, pocketbook issues, it usually spells doom to their re-election.

The Liberals have avoided defeat in the last two elections despite a ream of scandals, such as blackface, WE Charities and SNC-Lavalin, because a tiny plurality of voters still perceived them as the party that cared most.

But what does it mean for the Liberals' fortunes if that is no longer true - if they are the party defending against a popular perception that the country has become "broken" while they were in charge.

No wonder the Liberals are in full divide-and-conquer mode, pressing hard on every wedge issue they can in an attempt to sneak back into office one more time.