Premiers’ Performance: A Holly Jolly Christmas for Legault and Moe

Premiers’ Performance: A Holly Jolly Christmas for Legault and Moe

Horgan, Ford, earn the approval of pluralities in their respective provinces

December 20, 2018 – Quebec and Saskatchewan Premiers Francois Legault and Scott Moe have each received an early Christmas present in the form of majority job approval ratings from their respective electorates.

Legault, whose Coalition Avenir Quebec formed a majority government this past October, ends 2018 with the not-uncommon bump afforded provincial leaders early in their mandates. Six-in-ten (59%) Quebecers approve of his efforts as premier. Statistically, the same number (57%) feel the same way in Saskatchewan about their premier Scott Moe, on the job for almost a year.

This quarterly survey of Canadians about their premiers finds the middle of the pack holding their own, relatively speaking, while the least approved-of provincial leaders in the country are at or just above the 30 per cent mark.

Majority approval in Saskatchewan and Quebec

In the early months of the CAQ government, it appears that Quebec residents are happy enough with Legault, whose party became the first since 1966 other than the Quebec Liberals or Parti Quebecois to hold power in that province. In a brief pre-Christmas sitting, the legislature introduced plans to reduce immigration and raise the legal age for marijuana consumption to 21. Legault also defended his plan to ban religious symbols in the workplace. As noted, 59 per cent of residents say they approve of Legault entering 2019.

Related – Religious symbols in the workplace: opinion nuanced in and outside Quebec

The only other Canadian premier with a majority approval rating is Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe (57%). Moe has been an influential voice among a group of premiers pressing the Prime Minister on some the year’s most defining issues – including carbon taxation, oil prices and pipelines amid a growing dissatisfaction with Ottawa among many in Western Canada. Moe’s high approval, relative to other premiers, follows that of his predecessor, Brad Wall.

Related – Rebate announcement tips opinion in favour of federal carbon plan


Ontario and B.C.

After winning a dramatic and tumultuous leadership race for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario last spring, Doug Ford went on in June to win a majority government in Canada’s most populous province. Ford has allied himself with other conservative leaders in the country and taken a place as one of the principle figures in the push back against the Trudeau government’s carbon pricing plan. But there has been internal controversy: Ford enters 2019 facing an inquiry over conflict of interest concerns after a family friend was appointed new Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner, strong opposition to his government’s changes to the provincial sex education curriculum, and the fallout from news of the impending GM plant closure in Oshawa.  He closes out 2018 with the approval of 42 per cent of his province.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan’s year has largely consisted of unyielding interprovincial political tension with Alberta over the TransMountain pipeline expansion project, and tumult over his minority NDP government’s referendum on proportional representation. The latter – part of the grand political bargain made with the BC Green party in order to secure the “supply and confidence” agreement New Democrats needed to take power in the BC Legislature. 2018 was also the year that saw the go-ahead for a $40 billion investment in a liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia. Horgan’s job performance approval has softened since the 2017 election, but he but he still holds the approval of 43 per cent.

Atlantic Canada

In New Brunswick, for the first time in nearly 100 years (1920), an election resulted in a minority government. Incumbent Brian Gallant’s Liberal Party won six per cent more votes, but the Conservative Party won more seats. Gallant’s government was defeated in a vote of non-confidence, and Blaine Higgs’ Conservatives formed a new minority government in the legislature. Like Horgan, he faces the challenge of governing with a majority predicated on the co-operation of a third party. He ends the year with approval of 40 per cent of people in New Brunswick.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball headed to China in November in search of improved trade relations, with a focus on the province’s iron ore exports. At the same time, his government introduced its carbon pricing plan to meet federal standards. Ball’s approval now hovers around the one-third mark (32%).

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil ends the year as he started it, with the approval of three-in-ten residents (30%). Some of the most high profile criticism of McNeil has come from the province’s teachers union. The union solicited its own survey of Nova Scotia residents, finding that only 17 per cent believe the provincial government has done a good job managing the public school system.

Alberta and Manitoba

A pair of premier representing parties traditionally on the opposite end of the political spectrum find themselves some things in common this quarter. Both Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister withdrew their support of the federal governments carbon pricing plan this year. Pallister, in particular, says the federal government is too restrictive and not cooperating with Manitoba’s own plan to reduce emissions.

Both premiers find their approval levels at 36 per cent.

But for Notley the stakes are far higher for her government’s survival. With an expected election in Alberta this spring, Notley and the NDP find themselves squeezed on one side by a delayed completion of the pipeline, despite assurances from the federal government, and on the other by the criticism of United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, who says the premier has not done enough to defend the interests of Albertans.

With just under two years until the next election in Manitoba, Pallister is under arguably less pressure.

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

Image – Radio Canada


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director, Angus Reid Institute: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Associate: 250.899.0821

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