Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has lowest approval rating among premiers, poll suggests

By | May 28, 2020

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has the lowest approval rating of any premier in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, with just 47 per cent of Manitobans giving his leadership a positive review, a new poll suggests.

Only two premiers had approval ratings below 50 per cent during the previous quarter in the Angus Reid Institute poll, which was conducted online from May 19 to 24 and released Thursday: Pallister and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who had a 48 per cent rating.

They are followed by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, who had an approval rating of 57 per cent.

When asked about the poll at a news conference on Thursday morning, Pallister said Manitoba has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“I don’t care about being popular, I care about getting results, and that’s the same thing I’ve said since I got into politics, and I’m not likely going to change,” he said.

“So if I have to choose between being popular or not and beating COVID, I’ll choose beating COVID.”

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs had the highest rating in the poll, with 80 per cent approval. Quebec Premier François Legault followed with 77 per cent approval and British Columbia Premier John Horgan with 71 per cent approval.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford had an approval rating of 69 per cent, while Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe had an approval rating of 65 per cent and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil had 63 per cent approval, the poll suggests.

Data on Prince Edward Island was not released because “its small population precludes drawing discrete samples over multiple waves,” the poll information said.

The poll was commissioned and paid for by the Angus Reid Institute. It included a representative randomized sample of 5,001 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. 

A comparable margin of error for a probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, the pollster said. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

Shachi Kurl, the Angus Reid Institute’s executive director, said it’s unusual to see the high approval ratings many premiers had during this period, and the jumps are likely due to how each premier is perceived to be handling the pandemic.

“Many Canadians, with the exception of some provinces, are looking to their premiers as beacons of leadership at this time,” she said.

The poll is significant because it’s the first time the institute has gauged Canadians’ approval of their premiers since the pandemic was declared, Kurl said.

Shachi Kurl is the executive director of the Angus Reid Institute. (Twitter.com)

Pallister’s approval rating this quarter is still four percentage points higher than it was in the previous Angus Reid Insititue poll, conducted in February. That’s the second-lowest increase in premiers’ approval ratings since last quarter, after Kenney’s increase of one percentage point. Saskatchewan’s Moe saw an increase of seven percentage points.

Kurl said normally, an approval rating approaching 50 per cent is seen as relatively high. Pallister’s low rating compared to other premiers could be partially due to the fact that Manitoba has had fewer COVID-19 cases than many other provinces.

“Because the COVID pandemic has not been as severe in Manitoba, Premier Pallister’s response to it perhaps plays less of a role or a factor in how Manitobans are assessing his performance over the last three months,” she said.

“In essence, I think leaders who have played a role that’s been very front-and-centre, who’ve taken on a role that’s been very both reassuring and directive to their people …. we see that Canadians and their constituents in their own provinces have responded to that.”

The premiers who saw the biggest jumps in approval ratings during this period were Ontario’s Ford (38 percentage points), Nova Scotia’s McNeil (35 percentage points), New Brunswick’s Higgs (32 percentage points) and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Ball (31 percentage points). Quebec’s Legault saw a jump in approval of 19 percentage points during this period. 

The online survey’s comparable margins of error are larger when looking at individual provinces. The margin in Manitoba is plus or minus 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20, the pollster said.

In other provinces, it varies from plus or minus three per cent (in Ontario) to plus or minus 6.4 per cent (in New Brunswick).

It’s 3.4 per cent in Quebec, 3.9 per cent in Alberta, four per cent in British Columbia, 4.4 per cent in Saskatchewan, 5.7 per cent in Nova Scotia and 6.1 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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