Facing re-election, Brad Wall, Greg Selinger are Canada's most and least popular premiers

The quarterly premiers approval ratings poll from the Angus Reid Institute has good news for Saskatchewan's Brad Wall and bad news for Manitoba's Greg Selinger. How did Canada's other premiers fare?

Alberta's Rachel Notley has seen a sharp decline in her popular support

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall tops the list of Canada's most popular premiers, Manitoba's Greg Selinger is at the bottom. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan's Brad Wall is Canada's most popular premier and Greg Selinger of Manitoba is the most unpopular. What do they have in common?

Both will face an election in April.

The latest quarterly premier-approval poll by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was published Wednesday, showing that the two premiers heading into election campaigns are starting at very different levels of support.

Wall topped the list again, with an approval rating of 62 per cent among residents in his province. His disapproval rating was at just 33 per cent. 

These are typical numbers for Wall, whose governing Saskatchewan Party is leading in the polls heading towards the April 4 provincial election. The Saskatchewan premier has been scoring between 60 and 64 per cent approval in the ARI's polling for the last year. However, that is down slightly from the 65 to 67 per cent that Wall managed after his re-election in 2011.

On the opposite end of the scale is Selinger, whose Manitoba New Democrats are trailing in the polls by a very wide margin ahead of the election that will be held on April 19. Selinger held the approval of only 19 per cent of Manitobans, down three points from the ARI's previous quarterly poll conducted at the end of November. His disapproval rating was up seven points to 72 per cent.

These are Selinger's worst numbers since December 2014, and is lower than the 22 to 23 per cent he was scoring throughout 2015.

Post-election honeymoons over

While Wall and Selinger book-ended the approval ratings rankings, Alberta's Rachel Notley topped the list in terms of the big movers. Her approval rating was down 12 points to just 33 per cent, continuing a steady decline from her post-election honeymoon.

The Alberta premier has seen her disapproval rating balloon by 30 points to 56 per cent since her New Democrats won the May 2015 provincial election. Her approval rating has fallen 20 points since then in the face of the economic downturn in her province.

But post-election honeymoons of a different stripe have come to an end for two Liberal Atlantic premiers as well.

Liberal Stephen McNeil of Nova Scotia has seen his approval rating drop 10 points to 36 per cent, with his disapproval rating up 12 points to 55 per cent. That is the lowest score he has managed since winning the province's 2013 provincial election, and is down sharply from an increase in support he experienced following Justin Trudeau's federal election victory in October.

Under Trudeau, the Liberals swept all 32 of Atlantic Canada's seats.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant chat. (Alberta government)

In New Brunswick, Liberal Brian Gallant's approval rating has held steady at 33 per cent but his disapproval rating was up 17 points to 56 per cent — again back to pre-Trudeau levels of support for the youngest premier in the country.

One honeymoon is in full swing, however. Dwight Ball in Newfoundland and Labrador ranked second to Wall in approval rating with 60 per cent, with a disapproval rating of just 30 per cent, the lowest in the country. Ball's Liberals won the provincial election held in Newfoundland and Labrador in November.

Results for Prince Edward Island were not published, due to the difficulty for an online poll of recruiting a suitable sample in such a small province.

Premiers of big provinces in trouble

The poll shows that Canada's three largest provinces are governed by three of the country's least popular premiers.

Of the three, Quebec's Philippe Couillard has the best numbers with an approval rating of 36 per cent and a disapproval rating of 56 per cent. Both numbers have been holding relatively stable for the Liberal premier since the end of 2014.

British Columbia's Christy Clark saw her approval rating drop three points to 31 per cent, with disapproval at 61 per cent. That is the Liberal premier's worst score since the 2013 provincial campaign. However, her trend line has been relatively steady with wobbles and back and forth. B.C.'s next provincial election will be in May 2017.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark , Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard listen as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Liberal Kathleen Wynne in Ontario had the second-worst scores in the country. Her approval rating was down three points to 27 per cent, continuing a steady decline in support since winning the 2014 provincial election. Her approval rating has dropped 14 points over that time. Her disapproval rating was up four points to 64 per cent.

But these three premiers have time turn things around. Wynne and Couillard will face the electorate again in 2018. Wall and Selinger, however, will face the music much sooner. Only one of them should look favourably on that prospect.

The poll by the Angus Reid Institute was conducted between Feb. 2 and 10, 2016, interviewing 6,294 Canadians via the internet. As the poll's respondents were drawn from an online panel, a margin of error does not apply.


Éric Grenier

Politics and polls

Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of ThreeHundredEight.com and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité.


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