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politics briefing

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announces a cap and trade deal with Quebec in Toronto on April 13, 2015.Chris Young/The Canadian Press


Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is the least popular premier in the country, with only 16 per cent approving of her handling of the job, according to the Angus Reid Institute's quarterly tracking.

As usual with the poll, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is far and away the provincial leader with the most support, with 58 per cent of respondents from Saskatchewan saying he's doing a good job.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister – only seven months in office – wasn't too far behind, with the approval of 50 per cent.

Most other premiers are stuck with around one-in-three support, including B.C. Premier Christy Clark (35 per cent), Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil (31), Alberta Premier Rachel Notley (31), Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard (30), and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant (29).

Those levels of support have gone up and down over the past couple of years, but two premiers have seen their numbers only go down: Newfoundland and Labrador's Dwight Ball (who, in his continuing search for budget cuts, is now taking a swipe at politicians' pensions) dropped from 60 to 20 per cent since February; and Ms. Wynne, who has steadily slipped from 41 per cent just after the 2014 election to her current 16 per cent.

Angus Reid Institute's survey contacted 5,300 Canadians online between Dec. 5 and 12. The firm does not include a sample from Prince Edward Island, though a recent poll in the region found the governing Liberals were quite popular.


> The Liberal government's task force will release its recommendations this morning on the legalization of marijuana.

> Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted that people talk business with him at Liberal Party fundraisers, but he said it doesn't influence his behaviour. "I can say that in various Liberal Party events I listen to people, as I will in any given situation, but the decisions I take in government are ones based on what is right for Canadians and not on what an individual in a fundraiser might say," Mr. Trudeau said.

> The Trudeau Foundation has raised significantly more money since Mr. Trudeau became Liberal Leader, a National Post analysis finds. The number of foreign donations has risen tenfold in two years.

> Provinces will find out the amount of next year's federal health transfers this week, ahead of a meeting of finance ministers. The billions of dollars in federal money is the largest transfer of funding to provinces each year.

> The Senate wins this round: Finance Minister Bill Morneau has agreed to remove a section of the budget implementation bill dealing with the banking sector, after objections from Quebec and independent senators.

> Kevin O'Leary is getting a little more serious about running in the Conservative leadership race: he has recruited Marjory LeBreton, Stephen Harper's former lead senator, to chair an exploratory committee.

> And a follow-up on yesterday's story about Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, and her role in finding a new location for an Ottawa hospital. "I learned a hard lesson in politics: That people will spread untruths," the Ottawa Centre MP told the Citizen's David Reevely.


André Picard (Globe and Mail): "It is reasonable for individual physicians and nurses to declare a conscientious objection and not participate in assisted death. But a hospital or nursing home has no such right. Publicly funded institutions cannot arbitrarily decide what services they will provide, nor should they be able to shunt dying patients around like sacks of rice."

John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail): "Mr. Trudeau has made improving Sino-Canadian relations a priority. A hostile U.S. could move the Communist government to sign a free-trade agreement with Canada on terms favourable for this country. But if Ottawa gets too close to Beijing, this could prompt retaliatory measures from the Americans. And in any case, a trade war between the world's two largest economies is bound to be bad for this trade-dependent nation." (for subscribers)

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "If 2016 was Justin Trudeau's year of getting stuff done, then he'd better make 2017 the year of combating cynicism. That was pretty clear at the news conference the Prime Minister held to wrap up the fall sitting of the House of Commons, where he listed government accomplishments but failed to give meaningful answers about several things he still has to do – especially the things he promised to do differently, to dispel the whiff of cynical politics, such as political fundraising and electoral reform." (for subscribers)

Elizabeth Renzetti (Globe and Mail): "Even if the letter of the law is being followed, the preferential treatment awarded to certain people smells like a sewer pipe in July. The sleuth who follows the fundraising story will notice many clues peppered throughout the newspaper stories. The parties are invariably held at 'the waterfront mansion of a mining tycoon' or the 'mansion of a wealthy Chinese-Canadian business executive.' Oddly, they never take place in a Legion hall or a Red Lobster or in the basement of a church."

John Ivison (National Post): "Trudeau said Monday he is looking at ways to strengthen trust in Canada's political institutions. Putting into law the rules that the Prime Minister set out for his cabinet in the open and accountable government document would be a very good start."

Lorrie Goldstein (Sun): "After all, Trudeau noted, he only makes decisions based on what's right for Canadians and you'd have to be a cynic to think otherwise. Trudeau ally, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, said the same thing in the face of reports her cabinet ministers were assigned political fundraising quotas, to be obtained from businesses and unions affected by their decisions at private, fundraising soirees. That is, until her Liberal government's cash-for-access controversy got so hot that Wynne has now promised fundraising reforms."

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): "Trudeau sees a parallel between the discussions he has with representatives of other levels of governments, such as the premiers he spent the day with on Friday, and well-heeled contributors to his party's coffers. At this rate, he will soon be reassuring his provincial counterparts that he does not hold it against them that they get to spend quality time with him free of charge. After all, time is money in Liberal land."

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Written by Chris Hannay. Edited by Steven Proceviat.

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