Dunderdale last in premiers poll

A recent national poll shows Premier Kathy Dunderdale struggling for voter approval.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale placed last for approval ratings in the latest poll from Angus Reid. (CBC)

A recent national poll shows Premier Kathy Dunderdale is struggling for voter approval. 

In the latest survey from Angus Reid, Dunderdale placed last in approval ratings for premiers across Canada.

The polling firm said only 20 per cent of people polled in Newfoundland and Labrador approved of Dunderdale and her Tory government, and 73 per cent disapproved of her performance.

Only eight per cent of those polled were undecided about the premier's performance.

Shachi Kurl, vice-president of Angus Reid Global based in Vancouver, said Dunderdale's situation is exceptional.

"In the case of Premier Dunderdale, there is no particular one thing that's gone very wrong for her. I think she's just in a situation where she's had to preside over a lot of fiscal reigning in, there's issues with labour that she's having to deal with," Kurl said.

"At the same time, she's not exactly … she's no (former premier) Danny Williams. So where Danny Williams may have been able to endear himself to voters, he was able to create a wedge between Newfoundland and sort of the rest of Canada and show that he's standing up for his people, standing up to Ottawa, all of that — of course that's not exactly her style. And of course on top of all of that there's the issue of economic growth and the economy going fairly well for Newfoundland, but not the gangbusters that it was going under Danny Williams. So I think it's all of these things combined with the fact that she's mid-term."

Kurl said there is still a strong possibility that Dunderdale will be able to improve her numbers by the time the next provincial election takes place in 2015.

Opposition faring better

Then-interim Liberal leader Dwight Ball had an approval rating of 57 per cent, giving him the highest approval rating for an opposition leader in the country. Twenty-three per cent of people disapproved of Ball, while 20 per cent remained undecided.

Kurl said it's interesting to note that Ball had those high numbers even though the provincial Liberals are in the midst of a leadership race.

"Sometimes one wonders whether or not there are some outside or external factors that are working at play there. We saw Justin Trudeau make a swing through Atlantic Canada earlier at the end of the summer, and so I wonder if there's a little bit of Trudeau bump there," Kurl said.

"And we see that there are some close ties between the federal party and the provincial parties, and is that sort of having a bit of a factor — a halo effect — for Dwight Ball at the moment? Again, with his numbers as high as they are, it's also a matter of ensuring the voters are having a sense of whether or not they are getting to know him. Is there a bit of a honeymoon period going on, has he been truly tested in his role?"

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael garnered a 63 per cent approval rating, the second-highest rating in the country for an individual leader. Twenty-two per cent of people polled said they did not approve of her performance, while 15 per cent said they were unsure.

Not surprising, Joyce says

Eddie Joyce, the current interim Liberal leader, said he wasn't surprised at the low approval ratings for the premier.

"When you look at Muskrat Falls and how that's up in the air and how that's going to cost people of the province billions and billions of dollars, it's not surprising," Joyce said.

"They're [the government] trying to sugar-coat Bill 29 [but] no matter how you put Bill 29 and try to wrap it, it's still a secrecy act."

Joyce said the people of the province are confused by mixed-messages from the government.

"When you have (Natural Resources Minister) Tom Marshall out here on the west coast bragging that we have loads and loads of cash, and a little while later laying off 1,800 people, you can see why people are losing confidence in this government and the premier."

According to Joyce, the steady rise in the polls for the Liberal party can be attributed to the leadership of Ball, one of five vying for full-time leadership of the party.

"Right now with 57 per cent [approval], it shows that the Liberal party is moving, Dwight Ball has proven his leadership, and there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that people see Dwight Ball as a contender for the next premier of this province," he said.

"It shows [that] this government is in such shambles that no matter what they try to do, it just don't turn out because there's just no plan, there's no focus for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador — they're just flying by the seat of their pants."

Cathy Bennett, who is a candidate for the Liberal leadership, said she will be contesting Dunderdale in her district of Virginia Waters in the next provincial election.

Angus Reid polled more than 6,500 Canadians in early September.

The results have a margin of error of 1.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Prince Edward Island was not included in the poll.


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