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Poll finds lowest levels of satisfaction for Prairie premiers’ handling of pandemic

A new poll suggests the premiers of Canada’s three Prairie provinces are lagging their counterparts in the rest of the country when it comes to how local residents feel they are managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poll from Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found 30 per cent of respondents in Alberta were satisfied with the job Premier Jason Kenney was doing with the pandemic — the lowest level of satisfaction for Canada’s 10 provincial leaders.

Kenney has faced criticism in recent weeks for resisting calls to impose lockdowns even as Alberta contended with a surge of new infections, which at one point saw it have more active cases than Ontario.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, whose province also has been battered by new infections during the second wave of COVID-19, fared slightly better than Kenney, with 31 per cent of provincial respondents approving of his management of the pandemic.

Pallister’s government faced heavy criticism after testing capacity and contact tracing initially failed to keep up with demand as case numbers spiked. For much of the fall, Manitoba led all other provinces in new infections per capita.

The only other premier with less than 50 per cent satisfaction was Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe at 39 per cent. Moe’s government has also been criticized for not responding sooner to a steady increase in infections in the province.

Meanwhile, just over half of respondents from Ontario approved of the job that Premier Doug Ford was doing.

Quebec premier has 55% approval

In neighbouring Quebec, 55 per cent of respondents in that province felt the same about François Legault.

In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan’s handling of the pandemic got a thumbs-up from 59 per cent of respondents.

Premiers in the Atlantic provinces, which have seen relatively few COVID-19 cases since March, fared the best, with Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil coming out on top with 78 per cent of local respondents approving of his management of the pandemic.

The online poll of 3,801 Canadians was conducted Dec. 4 to Dec. 20, but cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered truly random.

Poll participants were also asked how they felt about their provincial leaders’ record in several other areas, including their approach to the environment, support for vulnerable people and management of provincial finances.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King fared the best across nearly all of those categories, while Kenney and Pallister were at the bottom.

Leaders were also assessed on their trustworthiness, transparency, decisiveness, communication, compassion and collaboration, with all of the numbers compiled to create what Leger describes as a “leadership score.”

King once again came out on top by that measurement, with a score of eight out of 10, followed by Legault at 7.1 and McNeil with 6.9. Kenney and Pallister brought up the rear with 5.2 and 5.3, respectively.


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