THE latest data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians generally continue to hold positive views of their respective premiers’ job performance. But the trend line also indicates the days of provincial leaders appearing incapable of doing wrong politically – as they did in the spring and summer – are long gone.
BRITISH Columbia Premier John Horgan and his New Democrats gambled with an early election call in October and – amid record low voter turnout – won a majority mandate.
For many, the move was a cynical attempt at concentrating power in a time of turmoil. For others, it made the case for the full decision-making authority that comes with a majority government, which eluded the party in 2017.
Now, despite skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 in and around Metro Vancouver, Horgan maintains a high level of approval. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say they approve of his performance, five points lower than last quarter. His approval is tied for highest in the country despite the new wave of physical-distancing and social restrictions in B.C., something residents have shown a willingness to absorb into their lives over the past nine months.
IN Quebec, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken more lives and infected more people per capita than anywhere in the country. Despite this, Premier Francois Legault continues to be perceived as a fixture of strength, his approval statistically unchanged at 64 per cent. Legault and his party implemented an indoor mask mandate over the summer and have recently elevated alert levels in much of the province, which come with closures of public spaces and restrictions on group sizes.
FROM a public opinion perspective, the early days of the pandemic were a strongpoint for Premier Doug Ford in Ontario. Ford’s shift in persona enabled him to earn the approval of Ontarians previously entrenched along party lines. While Ford’s approval remains at a majority level, it has fallen 11 points in the last three months, now sitting at 55 per cent. COVID-19 hospitalizations have climbed to second wave highs in the province, and the Peel region and City of Toronto have entered the lockdown level of the province’s protocols. Ford recently lambasted those protesting restrictions, calling them “buffoons”, and encouraged residents to do their part to turn the situation around.
ALBERTA is the only province in Canada without an indoor mask mandate and Premier Jason Kenney continues to resist such a policy, suggesting it would create a backlash from residents. Most of the province is under such a mandate due to municipal rules, but Kenney’s actions appear to be generating criticism from some Albertans. Last week the Premier cast a light on the South Asians in the province, saying that new cases within that community were a “wakeup call” for the group to reduce social contacts. Opposition politicians condemned the premier for singling out that community in particular but evidently deciding not to mention others who have been defying group-size restrictions to protest in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer. Just 40 per cent of Albertans approve of Kenney’s performance as Alberta currently faces the worst outbreak in the country.