Premiers’ Performance: In the wake of pipeline problems, approval of both Kenney and Horgan falls

Premiers’ Performance: In the wake of pipeline problems, approval of both Kenney and Horgan falls

Ball, McNeil, Ford the least approved of in the country

March 3, 2020 – The blockade crisis surrounding the Coastal GasLink pipeline project has had the country in its grips for weeks now, and the political fallout from it does not appear to have been kind to the provincial leaders at the centre of it.

In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan’s job approval has dropped ten points, from 56 per cent in December to 46 per cent now. In a survey published by the Angus Reid Institute last week, just 18 per cent of British Columbians said Horgan had handled the Wet’suwet’en protests and solidarity blockades well, while 65 per cent said he had done a poor job.

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney’s approval has also slipped below the majority mark: It is down seven points to 47 per cent.

It comes as the Alberta government introduced the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which would impose “stiff new penalties on law breakers who purposefully block critical, essential infrastructure, such as railways, roadways … and other related infrastructure”. Some legal observers have questioned whether the law may infringe on protesters Charter rights.

Legault and Moe maintain top spot

Two fixtures at the top of the premier approval ratings list remain there. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has not yet ruled out an early provincial election, otherwise the province must head to the polls by October 26 of this year. 58 per cent of Saskatchewan residents approve of the Premier, the same number who did so at the end of 2019.

Quebec’s François Legault has spent the last few weeks dealing with railway blockades in his province related to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline. Several Indigenous leadership groups have criticized Legault’s response to protests, with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake calling his comments about members of their community being armed with AK-47’s “reckless”. Legault still holds the approval of 58 per cent of Quebec residents, but this represents a decline of five points.

Conservatives Higgs, Pallister

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs lost his deputy premier, MLA Robert Gauvin, in February after Gauvin resigned from the position and quit the Conservative party, moving to sit as an independent in the legislature. This, after the minority Conservative government announced it would be closing six hospital emergency rooms during overnight hours, as a part of healthcare reforms. Higgs later announced that his government would not be going forward with the reforms until further consultations are completed. His approval this quarter is unchanged at 48 per cent.

Just over two-in-five Manitoba residents (43%) approve of Premier Brian Pallister, a decline of four points. The Conservative leader recently hinted at a provincial carbon tax that would meet federal standards after discussions with Justin Trudeau and other federal government officials in recent months. That said, with a deal yet to have been struck, Pallister also said that his government will go ahead with a court challenge to the federal carbon plan.

Ford’s continued fall

Just under one-third (31 per cent) of Ontarians now say they approve of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s job performance. Ford recently praised U.S. President Donald Trump on a trip to Washington, while criticizing the Democratic leadership in the country. This, after last year referring to himself as a “big Republican”. Seven-in-ten (71%) Ontario residents say they have a negative view of the U.S. President, suggesting Ford’s comments may not be helping (see detailed tables here). Meanwhile, at home, Ford’s government is dealing with rotating strikes from the teacher’s union who are protesting increases to class sizes, mandatory online classes and other changes the provincial government has made to education policy. Ford’s job approval has declined a total of 11 points overall since the June 2018 Ontario election.

McNeil and Ball

The two least popular premiers in the country are found in Atlantic Canada. Fewer than one-third (28%) of Nova Scotians see Premier Stephen McNeil as doing a good job these days. McNeil’s government recently announced new public spending measures in the 2020 budget to combat projects of a slowing provincial economy.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball announced that he will be resigning from his position. He holds the approval of 26 per cent of residents.


About ARI

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


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

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