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Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger responds to questions regarding the Speech from the Throne at a press conference at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods (JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger responds to questions regarding the Speech from the Throne at a press conference at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods (JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Politics Briefing

Seven premiers have strong disapproval ratings, poll suggests Add to ...

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POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay (@channay)

Most premiers just aren’t very popular in their provinces, according to a new poll showing seven of Canada’s first ministers get more negative ratings than positive ones.

The approval-rating numbers come from the Angus Reid Institute, the only polling firm that does long-term tracking of (nearly) all of the provinces’ premiers. (The only exception is PEI, where most residents were satisfied with the governing Liberals when they were polled in December by Corporate Research Associates.)

Most premiers had approval ratings stuck in the 30s, with Quebec Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard and Nova Scotia Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil both at 36 per cent approval, Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley and New Brunswick Liberal Premier Brian Gallant both at 33 per cent, and B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark at 31 per cent. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, a Liberal, had the approval of 27 per cent of respondents and Manitoba’s NDP Premier Greg Selinger, who is about to face a tough re-election fight, had the approval of just 19 per cent.

One of the few premiers who had a higher approval (60 per cent) than disapproval (30 per cent) was Dwight Ball, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal who won office in December.

“Dwight Ball is experiencing what every other premier experiences, with sky-high approval right after being sworn in,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director at the Angus Reid Institute.

Ms. Kurl attributed the lack of popularity to the fact that the shine comes off most governments once the hard task of governing actually begins, plus the “collateral damage” to political leaders of a depressed economy.

“It’s common for the political honeymoon to not last in Canada – with one exception,” she said.

That exception is Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, whose approval rating in Angus Reid’s polls has never dipped below 59 per cent since November, 2010. A Mainstreet/Postmedia poll from January showed Mr. Wall’s Saskatchewan Party was on track to be re-elected in April.

The Angus Reid Institute surveyed 6,294 Canadians, who were reached online through the Angus Reid Forum from Feb. 2 to 10. There is no associated margin of error for this type of poll.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING

> The Liberal government will launch a full-scale review of the temporary foreign worker program, which the caucus’s large contingent of Atlantic Canadian MPs say hurts the region’s tourism and fishery industries. “Because of the fact we are unable to recruit under the temporary foreign worker program, we have seen a lot of businesses having to close or scale back their hours and days of operations. This is really affecting services to communities that need that service,” said Labrador MP Yvonne Jones.

> The Liberal government is looking at setting a $15-a-tonne carbon tax, which would be a national minimum for all provinces. The level is in line with what Ontario and Quebec are already planning, and less than Alberta (a planned $20 per tonne) and B.C. ($30 a tonne).

> Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the budget will contain measures to help low-income seniors, which could include an increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

> Canada’s fighter jets have carried out their final bombings against the Islamic State. MPs continue a debate on the military mission on Friday.

> And British consultant Michael Barber, Tony Blair’s famed “delivery man,” is back in Ottawa this week. He’s meeting with senior bureaucrats as the Trudeau government begins to set up “delivery units” and is planning on appointing “chief delivery officers” in each department. (for subscribers)

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WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

“Former Liberal industry minister John Manley once turned down a Bombardier request in a rare and brave show of backbone. Mostly, however, Ottawa caved because, in no particular order: a) Bombardier was part of Quebec Inc. and therefore was deemed economically essential to the province; b) votes in Quebec were at stake; c) the lobbying from Quebec was ferocious and unyielding; d) lots of jobs were at stake, and not just in Quebec because Bombardier employed people elsewhere in Canada; e) airline manufacturers around the world also got government help. Now Bombardier is knocking again, this time at the door of the Trudeau Liberal government.” – Jeffrey Simpson (for subscribers).

Bruce Anderson (Globe and Mail): “The case has been made by others that Mr. Trudeau so loves drinking from the popularity fire hose, that he will promise and spend with abandon to keep the party going. My own guess is that there’s something else at work in the Prime Minister’s willingness to meet and talk with so many potential adversaries. In the tradition of politicians such as former U.S. president Lyndon Johnson, it seems to me that Mr. Trudeau is banking on an all-out effort to build relationships, to give and take, to persuade but also listen to persuasive arguments. He’s hoping that good relationships will help carry him safely through the rough waters that eventually lie ahead.”

Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail): “Why isn’t the [Canadian Supreme Court]’s role and composition a regular matter of political debate here?”

Chantal Hebert (Toronto Star): “The Liberal decision to forgo a free vote [on physician-assisted dying] is part of a broader change designed to ensure Justin Trudeau’s caucus walks the talk of the party’s professed commitment to charter rights. That was not always the case in the past with divisions surfacing on votes on abortion and gay rights.”

Don Braid (Calgary Herald): “The New Democrats have achieved the seemingly impossible – they united most of the regular news media behind Ezra Levant. They hoisted Canada’s provocateur-in-chief from the right-wing ramparts to instant national fame. Welcome to the mainstream, Ezra.”

Andrew Coyne (National Post): “Perhaps the lesson of this episode will not be lost on certain other of my colleagues who have been floating the idea of government subsidies to news organizations as a response to the industry’s heavily self-publicized woes. Because unless you’re prepared to subsidize Ezra [Levant] – unless, indeed, you’re prepared to subsidize everybody – you’re still giving government the power to decide who’s a journalist, or at least who’s an acceptable journalist.”

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