Ottawa

Justin Trudeau was wrong about used car salesmen

And journalists

On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau was asked about whether his caucus was doing enough to be transparent about its expenses and whether Canadians could trust that Liberals wouldn’t still be hiding something. He responded as follows.

There’s no question that there’s a been a trust broken. Canadians by and large no longer trust their politicians. I think we’re now ranked below used car salesmen and journalists on the list of trust of professions and you know, we make light of it, but that’s actually a very very serious state of affairs. We in this House are responsible for taking important decisions that will determine not just the economic, but the social well-being of our country in many cases for generations to come and if you’re in a place where Canadians no longer trust their politicians, for me, the way to begin to restore that trust is to demonstrate that we as politicians to trust Canadians and that’s why this proactive disclosure, the openness, the transparency that has characterized both my leadership and the Liberal Party of Canada over the past months, is an extremely important element in getting Canadians to understand that they deserve a far better government than they have right now and we’re pleased that there seems to be an openness across the country to what we have to say, but we know we still have an awful lot of work to do over the coming two years to earn that trust properly and the level of transparency we’re exposing is a big part of that.

The executive director of the Used Car Dealers Association of Canada was unimpressed and Mr. Trudeau subsequently apologized. As well he should. But to politicians. And journalists.

According to the Reader’s Digest trust poll in 2012, “car salespeople” were more distrusted than “politicians.” (The 2013 poll doesn’t seem to have included reference to car salespeople.) Car salespeople (and telemarketers) also finished worse in the 2010 poll for Reader’s Digest. Ipsos Reid polls in 2010 and 2012 found similarly. In a 2012 Gallup poll of Americans, car salespeople were less highly trusted than “Members of Congress.” Though respondents were also more likely to express very low or low levels of trust for Members of Congress.

In each of those last three polls, journalists rank higher than both politicians and car salespeople, with somewhere between 24% and 32% of respondents expressing confidence. Ekos, for that matter, has found that a whole 33% of respondents are willing to express trust in journalists. So there.