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Selinger still among least popular premiers

Poll shows sales job on PST hike went over poorly

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Greg Selinger's NDP has governed Manitoba since 1999 and an analyst says the party is showing fatigue.

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Greg Selinger's NDP has governed Manitoba since 1999 and an analyst says the party is showing fatigue. Photo Store

Premier Greg Selinger continues to dwell in the cellar among Canada's premiers, a sign his government's attempt to justify last year's PST increase through infrastructure spending has fallen on deaf ears with voters.

A new online poll by Angus Reid Global says Selinger and New Brunswick Premier David Alward are tied, each having a 28 per cent approval rating. Selinger's approval rating is five points higher than former Alberta premier Alison Redford's (23 per cent), who resigned March 19 over criticism of her leadership and lavish spending.

The one bright spot for Selinger is his current rating is up two points from September, but still a long way from the 48 per cent rating he registered in August 2012. Since that date, his popularity has fallen steadily, according to Angus Reid and other polling.

Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid Global's vice-president of communications and citizen engagement, said one reason for Selinger's low results is he and the NDP have been in power since 1999 and appear tired to voters.

"Small children have been born and are on their way to earning their driver's licence in that time," she said.

If there's a silver lining, it's that the NDP still has time to right its ship heading into the spring 2016 election.

"A measure of a premier's job-approval rating often has nothing to do with whether or not people would vote for the party or for the premier again," Kurl said. "He's got a lot of time to pull that together yet."

Since last fall, Manitoba's NDP government has championed last year's increase of the PST by one point to eight per cent as a way to fix the province's crumbling roads and highways. The Selinger government says $1.5 billion in PST revenue will be added to what it has already budgeted for infrastructure spending over the next five years, for a total of $5.5 billion by 2019.

An Insightrix Research poll released in February said the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives enjoyed the support of 49 per cent of respondents, while the NDP came in at 24 per cent.

The Angus Reid Global survey, which measures premiers' approval ratings in nine Canadian provinces, also shows 62 per cent of Manitobans disapprove of Selinger's performance over the latest polling period, with 10 per cent not sure.

In the March poll, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall tops the list at 66 per cent, with Nova Scotia's Stephen McNeil (59 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador's Tom Marshall (49 per cent) rounding out the top three.

Other premiers in the poll include B.C.'s Christy Clark (38 per cent), Ontario's Kathleen Wynne (36 per cent) and Quebec's Pauline Marois (36 per cent).

Quebec is in the final stages of a provincial election campaign. Voting day is Monday.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2014 A7

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