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Dwight Ball, Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Leader, addresses supporters in Corner Brook, N.L., after winning a majority government in the provincial election on Nov. 30.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay (@channay)

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Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has seen his popularity bounce a bit after winning re-election – as much as a premier can who has consistently had the highest approval ratings in the country – according to the Angus Reid Institute's quarterly premier poll.

The biggest change by far was in Newfoundland and Labrador. Liberal Premier Dwight Ball got the approval of 60 per cent of respondents in February, shortly after he was elected. But now, after tabling an unpopular austerity budget, he has the approval of just 17 per cent.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted its survey online among 5,300 Canadians across the country from May 6 to 16. The subsample in Newfoundland was one of the smallest in the country, at 263 people, which for a probability-based poll (which this is not) would have a comparable margin of error of 6 percentage points.

Once again, Mr. Wall was the only premier with an approval rating of over 50 per cent. Newly elected Brian Pallister of Manitoba was the only other premier with a net-positive approval rating – 46 per cent compared to 37 per cent – though given Mr. Ball's experience, things can change quickly. All other premiers ranged between 24 and 41 per cent.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA

> Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is about to appoint new ambassadors to Britain and Israel, Robert Fife reports. He is sending Janice Charette, who he recently dropped as the Clerk of the Privy Council, to London, while in Israel he is dismissing an ambassador who was deeply unpopular in the civil service. (for subscribers)

> The Canadian government is set to reject the immigration applications of three people from China who work for telecom giant Huawei over concerns of spying.

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> Former prime minister Stephen Harper will step down as an MP within the next few months to establish a foreign-policy institute and pursue opportunities on corporate boards, associates say. Mr. Harper will speak on Thursday night at the Conservative Party convention in Vancouver.

> Peter Harder, the government's representative in the Senate, says it's "certainly possible" that senators could pass the assisted-dying legislation within a couple of days next week, though he won't say how that would happen.

> A coalition of women's groups is urging the Liberals to choose proportional representation as it reforms the electoral system.

> The government has announced details of "phase 2" of the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. The Liberals doubled the fund to $300-million in the past budget and are giving applicants a deadline only weeks away, just as the Conservatives did when originally announcing the program last year.

> A former senior bureaucrat warns that the Liberals' new government advertising rules wouldn't complete protect public servants from having to do partisan work.

> And Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella is the first Canadian woman to receive an honorary degree from Yale.

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WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Nik Nanos (Globe and Mail): "Perhaps the most surprising part of the study is that not only do the vast majority of Canadians see independence as the preferred path for the Senate, Canadians also are ready for action. Two of three Canadians (68 per cent) say it is urgent or somewhat urgent to change the Senate. Why the appetite? Quite simply, the partisan ties that bind Canadians are unravelling." (for subscribers)

Bob Rae (Globe and Mail): "With the controversy surrounding the arms sale to Saudi Arabia, and the debates that will undoubtedly accompany the Trudeau government's efforts to deepen engagement with Iran and China, it is more necessary than ever for Canada to square its desire for stronger diplomatic and commercial ties with the compelling need to present an articulate case for pluralism and the rule of law."

Teta Bayan (Globe and Mail): "Migrant workers deserve permanent immigration status so that we have the same rights as everyone else. Closed work permits – which means we can only work for the employer listed on our permit – create apartheid conditions. Tied-down work permits take away our freedom to say 'no' and 'enough' to our unfair working environment."

Tim Powers (Hill Times): "Very few rarely say it, but what is on the minds of most Conservatives is whether this leadership race is the one that matters. The thinking goes like this: Justin Trudeau for a variety of reasons is extremely likely to get re-elected in 2019. If that is the case, whoever gets elected Tory leader now does not garner great odds for keeping their job after that vote. This line of argument not only influences who joins the current race but it may influence the delegates' choice on the type of leader they want now."

Terence Corcoran (National Post): "If O'Leary's performance at a recent private National Post event is any indication, some Conservatives have decided to administer O'Leary as a form of post-Harper shock treatment. Where Harper was bland and self-programmed to be dull, O'Leary is a glib dispenser of bombastic cheap shots and putdowns designed to draw partisan cheers and opposition outrage."

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