Horgan has highest approval rating among premiers

CANADIANS are still more inclined – for the most part – to give their provincial leaders better assessments than worse in terms of approval, according to Angus Reid Institute.
Indeed, five of Canada’s premiers receive the endorsement of at least half of their respective provincial constituencies, including B.C.’s John Horgan. Two-thirds (66%) of British Columbians approve of the job he’s been doing.

Horgan holds the top spot this quarter, approved of by 66 per cent of his constituents, having survived a politically risky announcement that the now $16-billion Site C hydroelectric dam would indeed be completed, and drawing some buoyancy from news last week announcing details for the province’s mass immunization plan. The new strategy made headlines across the country for extending the time between first and second doses of applicable COVID-19 vaccine to four months. After initial conflict over this timeline, other provinces announced they’d adopt or study the same four-month spacing.

Time will tell if more recent problems – such as Monday’s swamping of a hotline for making vaccination appointments – will have an impact on the level to which British Columbians approve of their premier in the coming months, says Angus Reid Institute.

Quebec’s François Legault is approved of by 62 per cent of Quebec residents. After imposing uniform restrictions and curfews across the province in January, Quebec returned to its colour-coded, regional system of restrictions in February. This has meant the reopening of stores, restaurants, and movie theatres in parts of the province, though not the densely populated red zones. Legault has voiced optimism as Quebec has opened up, but he also continues to face criticism for the “deplorable conditions” in long-term care homes that led to immense losses of life last spring. Just under half of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada have occurred in Quebec. A coroner’s inquest into the LTC issue started in February.

Doug Ford’s approval also drops this quarter, putting him at 50 per cent. What had been a remarkable renaissance for the Ontario premier over the last year appears to be coming to an end: his approval has dropped 19 points from where it was last May. Ford has been both praised and criticized for management of the pandemic. Most recently it was reported that he overrode the advice of Ontario’s top doctor when he opened up testing to the general public, which led to backlogs. Ford faces re-election next year.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has the second lowest approval rating among Canada’s premiers this quarter. The COVID-19 crisis, combined with low oil prices, devastated Alberta’s economy. The government projected an $18 billion deficit and a total provincial debt of more than $115 billion in its budget released in late February. After facing heavy criticism for its handing of the pandemic early on, Alberta has taken a cautious approach to reopening, and has seen downward trends in its case numbers over the past two months. Two-in-five Albertans (39%) approve of Kenney’s performance.

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