05.25.2016 09:04 AM

Don’t piss off a Newfoundlander, plus Premiers and popularity (updated)

…that’s the message I take from this little ARG snapshot about Premiers and their popularity. I mean, Newfoundland’s Dwight Bell was elected Premier right around the same time Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister – and the latter still enjoys record levels of support, while the former is the least popular senior politician in the country!  Weird.

Brad Wall, as always, is a political phenomenon.  Brian Pallister is the new guy, and enjoying a honeymoon.  (Cocky progressives, nota bene: the two most popular premiers are conservatives.) Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil remains a solid performer and a good prospect for re-election next year.  Quebec’s Couillard has clearly benefitted from his principal opponent turning into a three-ring circus.  Notley has – and I hear this from all my friends, Conservatives included – done a simply outstanding job following Fort Mac, and is much more competitive than just a few weeks ago (her main opponents, meanwhile, continue to split their vote).  BC’s Christy Clark would probably like to be more popular – but she also benefits from being consistently underestimated by pundits and politicos (me included, once).

Gallant and Wynne surprise me – (a) in Gallant’s case, because his New Brunswick Liberals are about double the provincial Progressive Conservatives in voter support, and (b) in Wynne’s case, because she’s dealt with some recent controversies with considerable dexterity (fundraising, autism, creepy caucus members).  Why they lag, as they do, is odd.  Any theories?

And spare a thought for Premier Ball, along the way.  It’s hard to get that unpopular that fast.  But the plucky Newfoundlander has done it!

UPDATE: And, as a smart reader pointed out, Prince Edward Island is apparently no longer a province.  Who knew?



  1. Tim says:

    I feel bad for McNeil. Look how tiny his head is compared to the rest of them!

  2. Luke says:

    In Nova Scotia, I’m surprised McNeil is doing that well. I think there is a lot of disappointment here. Nova Scotia has tried out all the three main parties, and nothing really ever seems any different. I hear quite a bit of serious dissatisfaction about she education system here from those working in it (and no, it isn’t about pay) with the current government, because there was some indications of promise that they might make very good changes. But instead it has been more of an intensification of some of the same terrible policies that waste teachers’ time and do not benefit students. The policy appears to be to micromanage what teachers must do to the point where there is no flexibility and their expertise as educators is given no recognition. Policies go into effect without any apparent consultations with staff doing the work. Teachers may not give penalties for late work, assign mandatory homework, or give zeros. They spend large amounts of time entering data (such as attendance records and the like) that are supposed to inform how well the system is performing, but no one working in that system believes in it. One teacher I recently spoke to told me that they have sort of eliminated most subjects, expecting the teachers to fit the curriculum into two broad categories: English and math.

    Anyway, expect continued disillusionment with politicians of every flavour in this province for some time.

    • Greyapple says:

      I think you’re right about McNeil benefiting from a general disillusionment with politics. The Grit’s record of government may be lackluster, but the other guys aren’t really offering a plausible alternative. The Tories have a hapless leader, unpopular within his own party (my Dad’s deeply involved in the PC party, so I know this), and no one is eager to return to the NDP government, even though their new leader has gotten a (small) bump in the polls. When the election rolls around I imagine the status-quo will prevail, though it may be a slightly reduced Liberal majority. The NDP could make some gains in Halifax where many progressives are angry at McNeil’s austerity, but the Tories will be lucky to hold their own. If you’re a conservative of principle, rather than a partisan Tory, there’s really no reason to vote against the “balance the books,” slash spending McNeil Liberals.

    • Luke says:

      Although this is good news, on the face of it: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/new-funding-orthopedic-surgeries-hip-knee-replacements-wait-times-1.3599178

      Wait times for joint replacement surgeries are very long, and they people waiting can be debilitated.

  3. Greyapple says:

    I’m not surprised by Gallant’s numbers being so low. The Gallant government has been having a rough go of it the last little while. Last summer they had similar levels of popularity, but they enjoyed a boost in the Liberal euphoria that followed the Trudeau victory. They seem to be settling back into their pre-election funk. Several questionable government decisions could be at work here; their austerity budget, the controversial firing of Dr. Eilish Cleary as Chief Medical Officer (at the behest of Premier Irving, rumour has it, due to her pending condemnation of the chemical Glyphosate used by his companies), the interference with the independence of the judiciary via Bill-21, and the introduction of free university tuition for students from low income families. The last, though introduced with much fanfare and initially welcomed, has come under scrutiny for its costs, and due to the fact that it will be paid for by ending other financial assistance for students. Neither Gallant, nor any in his Cabinet, seem to be effective communicators; the Education Minister’s response to questions about the above mentioned tuition program was cringe worthy. Voters here in NB have been restless of late. We’ve had two one term governments in a row. Gallant has two and a half years to ensure that he isn’t the third.

  4. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Wall would be the ideal leader for the CPC, but it’s pretty clear now that isn’t going to happen any time soon. And frankly, I don’t blame him. He’s got a good gig going where he is, and one would be tempted to question his sanity for giving all that up to join the three ring gong show called federal politics.

    BC is probably doing the best of any province in the country…which worries me somewhat because history demonstrates that around these parts people tend to get tired of success, and thereby turn to the NDP to raze the place to ashes. Not that I’m a particularly big fan of Clark, but she and her party certainly kick the hell out of the alternative!

  5. Kelly says:

    Voters aren’t willing to accept reality. That is why Ball is in the toilet. He did what had to be done in terms of actually raising taxes . . . you know, citizens actually paying for the services they want … and Newfoundland’s finances will be better long term. Sask, Alberta and soon Manitoba are all going to have a day of reckoning when they realize that 1. Keeping taxes low by living off of short term resource wealth gets you nowhere (Sask and Alta) 2. Tax cuts actually shrink the economy unless you plan on never balancing the books (Manitoba). I actually think the Pallister Conservatives don’t believe that government spending is actually part of the economy (ultimately it’s group buying writ large). I’m not sure. I know some of his advisor’s believe that, but we will see.

  6. dean sherratt says:

    Nothing ever surprises me about the politics of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is almost more tribal than political. If I was to hazard a guess, has he been pushing for pipelines to the tidewater or been silent on the bridge? I assume that it would be helpful for his province to have access to western Canadian oil though I’m never sure of the economics with that province.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      You realize NL is awash in it’s own oil, yes? That’s why the tax hikes– they relied too much on royalties and now that those are in the toilet they still have to pay for the services they got used to…

  7. dean sherratt says:

    On Wynne, there are quite a number of parents with autistic children who have been years on waiting lists who wouldn’t find the province’s new policy acceptable. IBI is now only provided to children younger than 5 years old. So kids who took some time to present symptoms, then waiting for an extended period for an assessment and diagnosis and then waited for two or so years to actually clear the waiting lists suddenly find that they are cut off within a few weeks of it starting. The one time payment of $8,000 for treatment thereafter will be burned up fast…once you can find a qualified person to provide it since it isn’t offered in schools yet.


    On other issues, the costs of her green energy program is the huge elephant in the room…the Liberals have been in power for quite some time and have an ingrained reputation for wasteful spending. I’m not surprised though my experiences with the government may be quite different than others. My final thought is that Wynne seems to play all the time to her favourite social causes and not enough speaking up for Ontarians who are not in these demographic characteristics. A white male with autistic children doesn’t feel the love in this province.

  8. monkey says:

    My take as follows from west to East

    BC: With the amount of negative press Christy Clark has gotten, I am not the least bit surprised. That being said two polls out recently (one showing the NDP 6 points ahead one showing the BC Liberals six points ahead) both show over 30% are undecided meaning unlike the past polarizing elections a lot will depend on the ballot question. Clark needs to keep it about the economy which is doing reasonably well, while the NDP needs to be about change, but also keep their more left wing elements under control. There actual basic weakness is Horgan is not overly inspiring and the reason this matters is those over 40 remember the NDP of the 90s whereas most those under 40 were too young to remember so a strong turnout amongst millennials would greatly help the NDP.

    Alberta: By nature Alberta is a centre-right province and things aren’t going great so not surprised at her lacklustre approval rating. A lot will depend on whether the right unites or not though as without uniting it’s anybody’s game but if they do good news for the right.

    Saskatchewan: Brad Wall has been wildly popular for quite some time so I suspect if you are an NDP supporter you are looking forward to when he is no longer premier as his successor will have big shoes to fill. Often really popular premiers see their parties ran in trouble after they leave, think Danny Williams or Gary Doer. I also think the reason Wall is popular is he is fairly pragmatic and shows a strong willingness to listen to others.

    Manitoba: Pallister was just elected, but a pretty weak honeymoon mind you I think Canadians are by nature left leaning so that’s why parties on the left tend to get bigger honeymoons at first whereas the right doesn’t appeal to most emotions but they also seem to do a much better job of managing expectations.

    Ontario: The last popular premier was Bill Davis, everyone since has been disliked and besides the Liberals have just been making error or after error so there becomes a point where people just turn on the government. Wynne’s only real hope is that Brown is a complete dud, but I think the party will have a tough time winning in 2018 but not impossible.

    Quebec: Couillard made some tough cuts in a normally left leaning province so no surprise. The good news is they have a balanced budget so the tough cuts that hurt his popularity are probably over. Smart politicians do the unpopular stuff in their first two years not last.

    New Brunswick: The economy is in the tanks and going nowhere so until someone can find a way to re-start things don’t expect this to change. I guess the real question is will Gallant be another one party wonder or will people decide to give him a bit longer to fix things.

    Nova Scotia: McNeil has been pretty dull and boring, not anything exciting, but has generally stayed out of trouble.

    Newfoundland: Very harsh austerity due to the situation. Never mind unlike most austerity budgets this angered both sides of the spectrum. Right is fine with spending cuts but not tax hikes. Left is fine with tax hikes but not spending cuts and since he did both that’s why both are angry. A lot will depend though if Newfoundland recovers or not. If by November 2019 things improve people will credit him, if not he could be Newfoundland’s first one term premier ever.

  9. Charlie K says:

    Brutal takeaway for the NDP in Alberta from this ARG poll:

    Despite having done an outstanding job with the response to Fort Mac, Premier Notley sits at 32%; right smack in the middle of one premier who has introduced serious austerity measures and another premier that is struggling to keep her head above controversies.

    It seems like Rachel Notley can just do no right with Albertans

    … and that should be concerning for Alberta New Democrats.

  10. Western Wonk says:

    I’m surprised Clark is at 27%, but I’m not sure this will hurt her given the alternatives.

  11. bluegreenblogger says:

    Hm. I am somewhat of a political Junkie, but in Provincial Politics I am not very Partisan. Good policy matters. So when I think about Wynne, I am pretty neutral. Some good policy, lots of nonesense. My thoughts have been turning to ‘best before dates’, mostly because of the drip drip of power plant revelations and the associated ponk. The leak of the Green Plan was disastrous for my recent opinion. I met Murray, and offered him support for the Mayoral run he never took (he accepted Smithermans’ seat in TC in lieu of), but I think he is a klutz now. That leak was poorly managed, and clear evidence of the seams coming apart in Cabinet. I know these are vague anecdotes, but I actually believe that Wynne is getting killed by irrelevencies. How do you get out from under stuff you didn’t do that is sticking to you?

  12. Terry says:

    Sorry but Wynne handled the autism scam with considerable dexterity? Telling desperate parents to put themselves on a years-long wait list for treatment and then announcing that anyone whose child grew too old while on the government-mandated wait list is now cut off with an $8000 f*** you parting gift seems less dexterous politics and more callous disregard.

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