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Saskatchewan Brad Wall and Kathy Dunderdale, who took over from Danny Williams in Newfoundland and Labrador, are shown in a photo combination. (Reuters and The Canadian Press)
Saskatchewan Brad Wall and Kathy Dunderdale, who took over from Danny Williams in Newfoundland and Labrador, are shown in a photo combination. (Reuters and The Canadian Press)

Brad Wall, Kathy Dunderdale top premiers in popularity rating Add to ...

Brad Wall, the potash-loving, Roughriders-cheerleading Premier of Saskatchewan, is the most popular provincial leader in the country, according to a new poll.

His staff joked Wednesday morning they were demanding a recount.

The new Vision Critical/Angus Reid online poll shows that 63 per cent of Saskatchewan residents approve of the 45-year-old premier's performance. Not far behind in the popularity contest is Newfoundland and Labrador's Kathy Dunderdale, who recently succeeded long-time premier Danny Williams.

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Ms. Dunderdale received 55 per cent support. Not bad but not nearly the kind of numbers Mr. Williams used to garner. Last February, he received 80 per cent support and then dropped to 67 per cent in November, a month before he stepped down.

Coming in third behind Ms. Dunderdale is another new Progressive Conservative provincial boss, New Brunswick's David Alward. He has the support of 42 per cent in his province - a marked improvement on former Liberal premier Shawn Graham who last year could only garner a 15-per-cent performance rating.

That's the top three, but who is on the bottom? Not surprisingly, former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, who was replaced on the weekend by premier-designate Christy Clark, and Ontario's Dalton McGuinty earned 16 per cent support among their respective citizens.

And Quebec's Jean Charest, who has seen his fair share of controversy over the past few months, received the lowest rating with 13 per cent. The analysis accompanying the survey notes that Mr. Charest's approval rating has dropped by nine points in a year: Last February he had 22-per-cent support and was one percentage point ahead of Mr. McGuinty, who was then at 21 per cent.

"There's a preconceived notion that somehow all governments are fundamentally unpopular, but Brad Wall and Danny Williams have consistently proven that notion to be wrong," pollster Mario Canseco said. The polling firm has conducted a quarterly survey in nine provinces for a couple of years. It helps, he said, to understand some of the differences across the country.

"Wall does very well because he is perceived as a person who fights for Saskatchewan's place in confederation. It is no surprise that the three lowest ranked premiers are also the longest serving. The more you stay in government, the tougher it is to connect."

Mr. Wall had an approval rating of 56 per cent last February. But his popularity has only increased since the attempted takeover last year of the Potash Corp. by an Australian company. The Premier successfully argued his point. Industry Minister Clement would up agreeing with the Saskatchewan government and blocked BHP Billiton's $39-billion bid on the grounds the deal did not provide a "net benefit" to Canada.

Last Friday, Mr. Wall was invited to tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The Premier had travelled to London to reassure the international investors that his province - despite the takeover being blocked - is still open for business.

The poll of 6,482 respondents was conducted for the Toronto Star and La Presse between Feb. 11 and Feb. 18.

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