A new poll suggests Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s approval rating is worst in the country, while her opposing counterparts have two of the highest ratings of any party leader in Canada.
The Angus Reid data, released Monday, puts Dunderdale’s approval rating at 26 per cent, behind Pauline Marois of Quebec (27 per cent), Darrell Dexter of Nova Scotia and David Alward of New Brunswick (both at 28 per cent), and Alison Redford of Alberta (29 per cent). Dunderdale’s rating is far from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s, whose 67 per cent is tops in the country by a wide margin; Christy Clark of British Columbia is the next most popular premier, and even she comes in at 45 per cent, 22 percentage points behind Wall, the only premier where a majority of respondents are satisfied with the premier’s performance.
Sixty-eight per cent of respondents said they disapprove of Dunderdale’s performance, highest among the premiers, with six per cent unsure (numbers add up to more than 100 per cent due to rounding).
The poll was conducted online from May 31 to June 4, among 6,540 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20. There were no results from Prince Edward Island, which did not have a large enough sample size to be statistically valid.
Dunderdale’s rating is down from 37 per cent in December, but up a tick from March’s 25 per cent. Opposition leaders Dwight Ball of the Liberals and Lorraine Michael of the NDP have the highest ratings (53 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively) of any party leader in the country, apart from Wall. Ball’s 53 per cent ties him with Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil as highest approval rating among official Opposition leaders in the country. According to Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid vice-president of public opinion, the margin of error for the Newfoundland and Labrador data is plus or minus 5.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20, putting the opposition leaders neck and neck.
Both opposition leaders were in Labrador Monday, campaigning for today’s provincial byelection in Cartwright-L’anse au Clair. Ball — from L’Anse au Loup — said the Liberals have come a long way in a year and a half.
“If we went back and reflected on one year ago and said, ‘Did you ever think you’d be in this position this year?” I don’t think many people would have done that. But all of this, I think, is a result of all the hard work that we’ve put in as the official Opposition,” said Ball, who said government stumbles are a factor as well.
“We’re seeing that in the disapproval rate of the premier. I think they’ve mishandled this year’s budget and they’ve made some very poor decisions, and I think people are really questioning the management ability of this premier and this government and ministers, the decisions they’ve been making. The people have lost confidence in the management of this government right now.”
Michael, reached in Red Bay, said it feels good to know that people are responding to her. “It’s something that will encourage me to keep working hard, listening to what people are saying, and working hard responding to that, so it’s tremendous encouragement to me,” she said, adding Dunderdale needs to examine why her own rating is so low. “For me, the premier does say that polls are just polls, but when polls trend the way the polls are trending for her — that trend is downwards — if I were in her shoes, I definitely would be trying to find the answer for that, and I think that’s what she’s going to have to do.”
A representative for Dunderdale’s office said, with the premier in China on a trade mission and government offices closed for Discovery Day, no one was available for an interview on the poll. But a spokeswoman did email a written statement on behalf of the premier’s office.
“We are in the process of transitioning government to a more effective delivery of services. Newfoundland and Labrador’s process is being recognized on the national stage, with accolades most recently from BMO and RBC for our strong economic outlook. However, we do recognize that some people still feel the need to register their discontent. Change can be difficult,” reads the statement. “It is interesting to note that provincial governments in over half of the provinces represented in this recent poll are in a similar position to our province. While no one wants to be down in the polls, our focus is and remains fixed on doing the work to ensure our province’s future is secure. So, while Premier Dunderdale continues to make decisions in the best interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we need to ensure the decision making processes are clear to all residents.”