, 12.19.2017 08:50 AM

Premiers: who’s up, who’s down, who cares

I don’t put much stock in Angus Reid’s little Premier’s popularity poll thing, and neither should you.  I think the Reid folks do it mainly for fun, and to get some free publicity, and it unfailingly it provides both.  Their release is here.

That said, a few observations:

  • Brad Wall, unless I’m wrong, will go down as perhaps the most-liked provincial Premier in recent memory
  • John Horgan should be enjoying more of a honeymoon
  • Dwight Ball, once politically DOA, is somehow back – how come?
  • Brian Pallister, who has fallen figuratively and literally, could very well be a one-term wonder
  • Philippe Couillard has been trying to please everyone, and has ended up pleasing no one – he’s in trouble
  • Rachel Notley up? Jason Kenney needs to consider the possibility that his extreme social conservatism is driving partisan Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party folks to the NDP Premier
  • Brian Gallant must be happy he didn’t go through with that snap/surprise early election this Fall, eh?
  • Stephen McNeil: I have no comment, and you likely don’t either
  • Kathleen Wynne rounds out the bottom, again, but is up for the third consecutive Reid poll – she’s headed in the right direction

What does it all mean, O Smart Readers? Comments are open!


  1. Pedant says:

    I’m appalled that Angus Reid, of all firms, doesn’t know the difference between percent and percentage point.

    And from the POV of illiberal progressives, isn’t “extreme social conservatism” redundant? I thought any and all social conservatism is considered extreme?

    Random thoughts:

    Pallister : What was he thinking when he proposed to spend MONTHS in Costa Rica? What job does he think he’s doing? He’s new and maybe he’ll improve but very possibly a one-termer, as you say, or at least a drop to minority government.

    Horgan : Wait until he introduces sweeping housing reforms to root out speculation and money-laundering. His popularity will soar.

    Notley : In better shape than most people think, however the federal Liberals’ tacit approval of regulatory authorities moving the goalposts so as to prevent any sort of pipeline to be built will likely be her undoing. A shame, because I think on the whole she is a good premier, and I am not left-wing. (as an aside, remember when Liberals taunted that Trudeau will get pipelines built whereas Harper failed in that regard? we don’t hear that line much anymore).

    Couillard : Will probably fall victim to Quebeckers’ predilection for massive swings in voting behaviour. Coalition Avenir Quebec looks, feels, and sounds like the future (not just because of its name) and may well be Quebec’s first truly conservative government since Duplessis.

    Wynne : Her hope at this point is that small-c conservatives become fed up at Brown’s attempt to out-leftist the Liberals and stay home.

    • The Doctor says:

      If Horgan had any cojones and really wanted to make housing more affordable in the Lower Mainland, he would ban foreign ownership, period, just as they have in Switzerland and New Zealand. I’m not holding my breath.

      • Gord says:

        I don’t envy Horgan’s position. He’s inherited a few real messes from the bought-and-paid-for-by-the-real-estate-industry-and-foreign-interests BC “Liberals”, who ought to have clamped down years ago. Now you have a bunch of middle-class and working-class folks who are suddenly house-rich thanks to the spike in property values, and who now see their house as their nest egg for retirement. If the NDP takes steps to seriously deflate the market there will be a lot of angry people.

        That said, there’s a lot they could do to curb some of the worst excesses. For starters, no more self-regulation for the real estate industry. Realtors long ago lost the right to be self-governing. Some serious steps to curb money laundering won’t piss anyone off.

        Ultimately the feds have to get serious about dealing with tax evasion and unregulated foreign money, not to mention dealing with the mortgage rules. A foreign buyer should not have an easier time getting a mortgage than a Canadian buyer.

        Sorry for the tangent, but I fled B.C. for Alberta because of this issue, so this is close to home for me.

  2. Lyndon Dunkley says:

    Man, you’ve lost touch with your Alberta roots. The small percentage of folks who have Kenney’s “extreme social conservatism” as their number one ballot question wouldn’t vote UCP if Kenney led the next Pride Parade in leather chaps.

    • Doug Brown says:

      Their numbers aren’t so small – most work in the public sector. “Extreme social conservatism” is code for “market based compensation”.

  3. Luke says:

    Stephen McNeil is a visionless shithead who had every opportunity to be a forward looking premier with strong popular support to back him. Nova Scotians fucked up choosing that education-killing asshole again.

    Rachel Notley is going to win again because Albertans really give their politicians a chance at the long haul.

    Wynne will do better than many expect, but might not win.

    That’s my two cents!

  4. Miles Lunn says:

    My thoughts based on when they go to the polls next are as follows:

    Wynne: Improving but may be too little too late. It’s pretty much unheard of for a premier to be re-elected with less than 30% approval rating so gives her a remote fighting chance. More likely at least ensures the party forms a strong opposition rather than gets wiped off as a year ago there was a real risk of the party falling to third and losing its official party status which seems to be less the case now.

    Gallant: Not good numbers for an election less than a year away, if it stays that way he could be the third one term wonder in New Brunswick.

    Couillard: Not great, but if it doesn’t improve he needs to hope Legault trips up bad enough as his are high enough to win when the alternatives are lousy, but not if people like the alternatives.

    Notley: Not disastrous but with a united right, she is going to need a good year in 2018 if she is to have a fighting chance in 2019.

    Ball: Very nice rebound and looking less like a one term wonder but still has almost 2 years left so lots can happen.

    Wall: Definitely one of the most successful premiers ever, the question is how will his successor fair.

    Pallister: Probably needs a slight reboot and certainly not good numbers, but at least has almost 3 years so plenty of time to turn things around or slide further.

    McNeil: Lousy numbers but has 3.5 years left so if he is going to do anything unpopular best to do it now so voters forget by next election

    Horgan: Okay, but a pretty weak honeymoon meaning he has little room to mess up. Next year will be telling. If still this high in a year’s time his chances of re-election are good, but if they slump not so much.

    • The Doctor says:

      Horgan’s obviously vulnerable on the Green flank, what with the Site C decision (which was I believe a broken campaign promise).

      • Pedant says:

        Horgan lost any credibility to oppose pipelines when he allowed Site C to move forward. That dam will create more environmental havoc than a thousand pipeline spills. Disgraceful, both the BC Liberals for initiating the project and the NDP for allowing it to continue.

        • The Doctor says:

          The whole pipeline politics in BC is completely stupid. A bunch of governments (e.g., City of Burnaby, City of Vancouver) who have no jurisdiction over pipelines hiring squadrons of lawyers at taxpayers’ expense to figure out ways to block pipelines over which they have no jurisdiction. And of course cynically relying on the fact that most people have no idea of how Canada’s constitution or division of powers work.

  5. Gord says:

    Good analysis by all. My $0.02 (rounded down to zero now in the new system) from west to east:

    British Columbia: Horgan was elected to do something about housing and affordability. Some minor progress on removing tolls, etc but people are getting impatient for serious action on housing. If they don’t move on that file (and money laundering) and quick, this will be a short-lived government.

    Alberta: Agree with Pedant that Notley is in better shape than the polls suggest. The government just rolled out some pretty well-received legislation, the NDP has consistently led in fundraising, and the Liberals and Alberta Party are floundering. If she manages to pull an Allison Redford and consolidate the non-UCP vote, she might yet pull off another term.

    Manitoba: Pallister will not be a one-term premier simply because he can afford to lose 11 seats and still have a majority government. His support in rural Manitoba and the wealthier parts of Winnipeg is still rock-solid. Only one government in the last century was not re-elected and his won’t be one of them.

    Ontario: Wynne is supposed to be the Ontario Liberals’ ace in the hole going into the election. With numbers like these, it’s more like a pair of threes and an Uno card.

    Quebec: Quebec voters are so fickle and prone to swings it’s hard to say if CAQ’s polling numbers will actually materialize at the ballot box. Remember the ADQ flash in the pan.

    Atlantic: Don’t really know enough to comment intelligently although I share Warren’s observation about Ball being back from the dead. I was never quite sure why his numbers were in the basement to begin with, so hard for me to say what this means.

    • Miles Lunn says:

      Ball saw his numbers plummet due to harsh austerity involving tax hikes and big spending cuts. After the shock faded and people realized how dire the deficit situation was people went from being angry to looking at how it may have been unpleasant but necessary. Most governments in bad fiscal situations who adopt austerity see a big drop at first, but once people realize the alternative is worse they rebound.

    • Charlie says:

      Re: Manitoba


      “Wealthier” parts of Winnipeg consist of maybe 3 ridings that could reliably vote for PC in a general election; one of which includes Pallister’s own riding.

      The rest of the Winnipeg ridings are up for grabs. A summer poll by Probe Research indicated that the NDP and PC are in a deadlock for Winnipeg.

      Given the steady decline in popularity of Pallister since and the precipitous bounce-back in support for the NDP in Winnipeg, political calculations are not as concrete as they may have previously been.

      Does that mean the PCs are a one-term government? I’m sceptical to say that myself. But a majority government on rural seats alone is non sequitur.

      • Gord says:

        Not to belabour the point too much, but a tie in the popular vote in Winnipeg doesn’t mean an NDP government. In 1995, the Tories won 104,297 votes in Winnipeg to the NDP’s 96,976 – a virtual tie. The Tories won 13 seats to the NDP’s 14 in the City, but won 18 seats outside the Perimeter to the NDP’s 9 (many of which it is unlikely to win again anytime soon) for a majority government. Pallister could very easily be reduced to as few as 6 seats in Winnipeg and still squeak out a majority if they re-elect all their rural incumbents.

  6. Steve T says:

    From a Manitoba perspective, I think Pallister’s rating is almost immaterial at this point. As Miles Lunn above says, he has almost 3 more years to implement his agenda, so many things can change. Heck, we are the province whose memory-challenged residents re-elected the NDP after innumerable broken promises and failed policies.

    Pallister has done a few things that are short-term controversial (eg: re-purposing certain hospitals), with the usual bleating from the entrenched union interests, but time will tell if they bear fruit. The status quo was clearly not working here in Manitoba, on a variety of fronts, so we will see if Pallister’s changes were the right changes.

    • Gord says:

      I’m sure Pallister is doing the stuff he knows will be controversial early in the term, given the aforementioned short memory of the average Manitoba voter. Filmon slashed health funding in the early 90s and still got re-elected, so I doubt reducing Winnipeg’s ERs from a ridiculous seven to a more realistic three is ultimately going to do Pallister in.

  7. Craig McKie says:

    PEI apparently no longer exists. Global warming and sea rise? The Honourable H. Wade MacLauchlan swept away and below sea level literally? The lobsters are revolting? Surely not.

    • Gord says:

      You’d think PEI would be easy to poll, having the same population as Barrie, Ontario…

    • Greyapple says:

      It’s a shame they’re ignoring it, odd as it may seem Island politics is actually rather interesting right now. In the 2015 election Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker won a seat (only the second time a non-Grit/Tory has ever won a seat), and in a recent by-election the Greens elected another member, becoming the second Green caucus in North America, outside BC.

      A recent CRA poll put the incumbent Grits at 37% (down from 45% in August), with the Tories at 28%, the Greens at 25%, the NDP way back at 11%, and the Undecideds at 27%. Of note, at 33% Bevan-Baker is the most preferred Premier, ahead of incumbent Wade McLaughlan at 27%. Still two years until the next election, but something seems to be stirring in Island politics. The Liberals will have been in power for over a decade by that point, so the old “time for a change” feeling could be setting in. Bevan-Baker may have a reasonable shot at becoming leader of the opposition or even Premier. If he can convince the 11% who support the NDP that his party represents their best hope for shaking up the status-quo his odds will increase dramatically.

    • Pedant says:

      Well, PEI shouldn’t exist as a separate province. Sorry to say, but it’s true.

  8. Elijah says:

    As a Quebec resident, I find it so frustrating that Coulliard isn’t doing better. The economy is on fire, taxes have been lowered repeatedly, unemployment is at a 40 year low, infrastructure is getting fixed, there’s more money for the homeless and mental health services, Montreal has a million cranes in the sky… It’s just ridiculous that so many people are unhappy.

    • Miles Lunn says:

      I feel the same way too. I am a small c conservative but like Philippe Couillard although I think Francois Legault would be fine as premier. Perhaps it is fatigue with the PLQ since asides from a brief 18 month PQ minority they’ve pretty much been in government continuously since the spring of 2003 which is even longer than the current Ontario government. So I think that is probably the biggest reason.

  9. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Couillard and Wynne are already political goners: the former because of the stench of past Liberal corruption and the latter because of gross mismanagement. Apologies won’t do it this time for either of them. No resurrections on the agenda.

  10. David says:

    Ok…I’ve got to take issue with the Horgan comment. Considering the Liberals tried and failed to hold onto government and the NDP/Green alliance didn’t come together until the summer, Horgan is doing great! The transition was smooth. He didn’t purge the public service. He’s made tough decisions like on Site-C. He is being a leader and a premier that wants to govern rather than oppose. He is getting praise from the usual BC pundits for ignoring the NDP activist base. His cabinet is strong with the likes of Carole James, George Heyman, and David Eby — so refreshing after years of the BC Liberal usuals. Horgan is folksy, accessible, and an overall nice guy. I think he’ll be premier for awhile — especially if proportional rep comes soon. (Also, the BC Liberals have an unimpressive leadership lineup.)

    • The Doctor says:

      Horgan is definitely trying to brand himself as a moderate, no question. And he has a nice, happy face to go along with that schtick. He’s going to spend the next 4 years or so trying to be just green enough to please armchair, fair-weather environmentalists, so that the Greens don’t start significantly eating into his support on the left. It’s a bit like Trudeau’s situation vis a vis the federal NDP.

      I do take issue with your comment about the leadership lineup for the BC Liberals. I think Dianne Watts is a formidable politician. But it’s true that all political parties have an amazing propensity to choose the wrong leadership candidate (see federal Tories).

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