Greg Selinger's popularity ranks worst among provincial premiers
'He is the premier today and he is the premier I am supporting, says Minister Ron Lemieux
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger's approval rating has sunk to an all-time low, according to pollsters Angus Reid.
In the latest quarterly check-up, the NDP leader's popularity has plummeted to 17 per cent — dead last among all Canadian provincial premiers.
Shachi Kurl, senior vice president of Angus Reid, said it's a reflection of the turmoil in Selinger's party.
"These numbers are not going to be particularly helpful for Greg Selinger but given all that he has faced in the last few months we'll have to see if he can survive this latest internal attack on his own leadership," she said.
He is coming off a rough year marked by the defections of five cabinet members, lingering discontent over last year’s increase to the provincial sales tax, and calls for his resignation.
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The NDP provincial council has also established rules for a leadership contest, which would take place if anyone challenges Selinger at the party's annual convention, March 6-8, 2015, in Winnipeg.
Selinger also faced a non-confidence motion put forward by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives last month but survived only because his dissident former cabinet ministers sided with the government.
Such a drop in popularity isn't unprecedented, but it's not good news, said Kurl.
“When we see numbers this low it can start to affect the ability of the party to raise money ahead of an election … [and] it can make it difficult to attract candidates," she said.
"Clearly, if you're the opposition leader looking at these numbers you're having a much better day than the premier, there is no doubt about that.”
Not a surprise: government spokesperson
The poll results are not a surprise as the survey "was taken during an unsettled time in the party, including days leading up to Dec. 6 when there was a motion to have the premier step down, which was soundly defeated," stated an email from a government spokesperson.
The email included the following statement from the premier:
Statement from Greg Selinger
“I’m focused on continuing to govern this province. I’m focused on Manitoban’s priorities. The economy is doing well, we’re building important infrastructure throughout the province, we’re creating new opportunities for education and training that lead to good jobs, and we’re protecting frontline services for all Manitobans.
It will be difficult for Selinger to rebound from such a drop in popularity, but even with those numbers he likely won't step down, said Winnipeg political analyst Chris Adams.
"I think that the premier's in a combative mood these days and I think this poll wouldn't be sufficient for him to withdraw," he said.
Adams said the low approval rating means there is a real chance for those vying for Selinger's job.
"There is an opportunity for someone who wants to challenge the existing leader of the party for the leadership position," he said.
"There's still a while to go until the next election and whether it's Selinger or somebody else leading the party, you know there are opportunities to turn things around. But it's looking pretty poor right now."
Party brass unfazed by poll
NDP MLA Rob Atlemeyer wasn't surprised by the poll results either.
"Well I don't think it has been a happy time and I think the public is looking for clarity on who our leader is going to be," said Atlemeyer. "Once that happens, then I think they'll find the NDP stands for the values and the program that they want to see."
Ron Lemieux, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection, is standing behind the premier.
"He is the premier today and he is the premier I am supporting," said Lemieux. "We're going to have a leadership campaign happening supposedly... I mean, I haven't seen any leadership candidates come forward."
The second-worst approval rating among provincial premiers is 34 per cent (twice that of Selinger) and is held by British Columbia's Christy Clark (Liberal) and Paul Davis (Progressive Conservative) of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (Saskatchewan Party) continues to be the most popular premier in Canada with 65 per cent.
The online survey polled 6,456 Canadians in nine provinces — 800 in Manitoba — between December 4-13.