by Angus Reid | September 26, 2019 8:30 pm
September 27, 2019 – With much of the nation’s political attention firmly on the federal election, Canada’s premiers may well be enjoying some rare time flying under the headline-driven radar.
Others, however, are finding they’re indirectly playing a role in the national campaign, to varying degrees.
More specifically, Ontario premiers, past and present, are looming large on the hustings – whether they desire it or not.
Although Premier Doug Ford announced this summer that his government would take an extra-long break until after the federal election, and lay low during the campaign, Angus Reid Institute data released this week finds Ford by far the most likely premier to impact federal race, and largely to the detriment of Andrew Scheer.
Justin Trudeau has made a point of invoking Ford at campaign events in Ontario recently, while opposition leader Andrew Scheer and his Conservative Party launched an ad campaign in the province linking Justin Trudeau to former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. Ford’s approval remains close to unchanged this quarter at 37 per cent, ahead of only Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil (27%).
Just as was the case last quarter, three provincial leaders have the approval of at least six-in-ten residents. Francois Legault leads at 64 per cent. The Coalition Avenir Québec leader ruffled some feathers at a meeting with the federal party leaders in September, requesting more autonomy for the “distinct nation” of Quebec and more authority over immigration levels, language requirements and taxation. Evidently, Quebec residents are responding well to Legault’s leadership, as his approval has risen in each quarter since winning the election in October of last year.
Another recently elected Premier, Alberta’s Jason Kenney, has the approval of 60 per cent of his constituents. Kenney has been outspoken in his criticism of Prime Minister Trudeau and has commended some of his United Conservative MLA’s for campaigning on their own time for Andrew Scheer and the federal Conservative Party.
In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe is statistical tied with Quebec’s Legault on job approval. Moe has stated that he will not be endorsing a party in the federal election, though few observers are left to wonder which he is hoping will be victorious. The Saskatchewan Party leader noted that the policy that stands out to him as most important in the federal election is the repeal of the federal carbon tax, a Liberal initiative that the Conservative Party has promised to end.
Two premiers on opposite sides of the country and the political spectrum share a commonality this quarter. Both British Columbia Premier John Horgan (54%) and New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs (53%) hold slightly more than majority approval in their respective provinces. B.C.’s Horgan praised Prime Minister Trudeau in late August, and has faced criticism from some NDP supporters for appearing to support the Liberal rather than the New Democratic cause federally.
In New Brunswick, home to Canada’s largest oil refinery, Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs has joined Andrew Scheer in promoting a plan to move oil east through his province. Higgs recently blamed Trudeau for the failure of the initial Energy East pipeline.
The Manitoba election was called a year ahead of schedule but for Premier Brian Pallister, the political gamble paid off handsomely. His Progressive Conservatives coasted comfortably to another majority government earlier this month. Pallister now turns his attention to another (expected) four years of governance, and he does so with an approval rating of 48 per cent – the highest such personal rating he has garnered since the end of 2016. Pallister has stated that he will abstain from campaigning for any federal party.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball’s approval rises for the third consecutive quarter, now up to 40 per cent. The Premier used a recent campaign stop by the Prime Minister to push for more federal funding commitments related to the Muskrat Falls energy project and a new wastewater facility.
Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia, emerges again as Canada’s least popular provincial leader. That said, his approval has rebounded to 27 per cent this quarter. McNeil has stated that he is “more than happy” to hit the campaign trail for the federal Liberals if called upon, while the provincial Conservatives have maintained more distance between themselves and Andrew Scheer.
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.
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