Ranked: provincial premier popularity poll puts Wynne at the bottom and Wall on Top — again

Ontario's Kathleen Wynne can't catch a break according to the latest Angus Reid Institute poll on performance approval.

She remains, for another quarter, the most unpopular premier in the country — with an approval rating that dropped to 16 per cent, down four per cent from the last quarter. The institute also stated that this represents an all-time low since she was sworn-in back in February 2013.

“Historically, when you see job approval numbers that low, it can spell the end of the line for that premier,” Shachi Kurl, director of the Angus Reid Institute, told Yahoo Canada News. “The question is whether her caucus and Liberal donors are prepared to stick with her?”

According to the information released by the pollster, Wynne is still dogged by "the fallout of her government's sale of Hydro One and under pressure from the Ontario auditor general for not spending the proceeds of that sale in the most effective way possible."

The Hydro One sale has been widely unpopular across the province, with the Canadian Union of Public Employees launching a lawsuit to put a halt to the sale of more shares of the utility.

However, there is one other premier who has slid even further than Wynne and that is Nova Scotia's Stephen McNeil, who had the largest fall in approval ratings over the last three months: from 38 to 31 per cent.

McNeil's problems appear to be a long-boiling dispute with teachers which culminated in a closure of schools on Dec. 5 after the Nova Scotia Teachers Union told their members to operate under work-to-rule.

On the other side of the spectrum are Saskatchewan's Brad Wall and Manitoba's Brian Pallister. Wall is riding a 58 per cent popularity wave — a number he has maintained since the last poll in the fall.

Wall, who has opposed the federal government's plans to impose a tax on carbon emissions out of fears such a tax will damage the Saskatchewan economy, remains the most popular premier in the country.

"Brad Wall is seen to be a populist and someone who fights for the people," Kurl told Yahoo Canada News. "He's been premier for a long time and he's been popular for a long time. Back in 2011 his approval rating was 71 per cent — he was basking in the glow of the boom-time resource economy."

Now that the good times are done, Kurl said Wall has been able to "pivot" as the guy who will stand up for this province, a quality on display in his fights against the federal government’s carbon tax.

"He's seen as unassuming … not hyper-partisan and people like that."

‘New Premier Syndrome’

In Manitoba, Pallister dropped three points to 50 per cent since the last quarter. Kurl credits his No. 2 status with being the newbie.

"We call it New Premier Syndrome. Newly elected premiers will see a real spike in popularity at first," noted Kurl. "Pallister won in a landslide earlier this year after several years of a deeply unpopular premier, Greg Sellinger [who presided from 2009 to 2016]."

Kurt said once Pallister starts implementing his austerity policies, his approval rating could falter: "Once the honeymoon ends, it could end in a big way."

And the premier with the prize for the greatest uptick in popularity is New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, who saw a five-point boost to reach 29 per cent. According to Angus Reid, Gallant's political future is dependent on the Energy East pipeline project which could bring oil through Quebec to Saint John.

Premiers with relatively inert numbers since the last survey include: B.C's Christy Clark, Alberta's Rachel Notley, Quebec's Premier Philippe Couillard and Dwight Ball from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan was not included in the rankings, as the island’s population is too small to collect accurate data. The poll did not include territorial premiers Sandy Silver (Yukon), Peter Taptuna (Nunavut), or Bob McLeod (Northwest Territories).

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