Trudeau, Notley enjoy positive media buzz after Fort McMurray fire

Pollster Bruce Cameron measured online comments, forums and media coverage, and found that positive mentions of both politicians jumped significantly in the first two weeks of May.

Overall comments now 7% and 9% more positive for Notley and Trudeau, respectively, since May 1

Notley's handling of Fort McMurray fire a blend of compassion and competence, says pollster

CBC News Calgary

5 years ago
Bruce Cameron, of Return on Insight, says politicians at the federal and provincial level are enjoying a positive media buzz after their response to the Fort McMurray fire. 2:51

Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau seem to be enjoying some pretty positive media buzz following their handling of the Fort McMurray fires. 

Pollster Bruce Cameron with Return on Insight measured online comments, forums and media coverage, and found that positive mentions of Notley jumped a net seven per cent in the first two weeks of May. 

Among Albertans, Trudeau has seen a nine percent net climb in positive mentions since May 1. 

According to Bruce Cameron's research, reaction to Premier Notley’s handling of the Fort McMurray emergency is positive in May by a net of 7 per cent. (Supplied)

Cameron said Trudeau's visit to Fort McMurray, though widely criticized, was well-timed and well-received. 

"He looked respectful," said Cameron. "It was appropriate, and people responded." 

On Trudeau's May 13 tour of the area, the ratio of positive to negative comments was nearly six to one, Cameron said. 

Despite widely publicized media criticism of Justin Trudeau in the lead-up to his visit to Fort McMurray, reaction in Alberta has been very positive to his visit, says Cameron. (Supplied)

Balancing act

Cameron said Notley's focus on first responders and frequent updates masterfully balanced competence and compassion, first by keeping everyone informed and then by empathizing with those affected. 

"Although she's done a great job in terms of responding to the emergency, the real tough part comes now," Cameron warned. 

Complex issues of resettlement, reconstruction and compensation will not be resolved easily or quickly, he said. 

Cameron suggested that the clean-up efforts could become highly politicized, as they were in High River following the 2013 Alberta flood.

"Regardless of what the government did ... there were critics, especially in an opposition-held riding, and that's what we have here."

Humanizing Fort McMurray

Cameron said the city itself is also benefiting from an unanticipated shift in public perception.

The fires helped many Canadians realize something for the first time: that Fort McMurray is a city of more than 80,000 people whose community looks and sounds very much like their own, Cameron said.

For the first time in recent memory, most of the country is talking about the oilsands without mentioning environmental or climate change challenges, he added. 

Instead, the focus seems to be on how the community has banded together during this difficult time.

"It's a very human face of the community, and it could have longer term implications in terms of making a human face for the oilsands," Cameron said.

Cameron suggested this could even help secure market access for Alberta's oil in the future.