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The good, the bad and the undecided

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Five months after he was elected premier, close to half of Manitobans still can't make up their minds whether they think Greg Selinger is doing a good job.

Angus Reid Public Opinion surveys Canadians every three months on whether they approve or disapprove of the job their premier is doing. The results of the latest survey were released today.

There's good news and bad news for Selinger here. The good news is he has the third highest approval rating among Canadian premiers. The bad news is that only 27 per cent of Manitobans say they approve of the job he is doing -- down two percentage points from December, when he had only been on the job for two months.

Having won Manitoba's highest office through an NDP party leadership contest last fall, succeeding Gary Doer, Selinger still appears to be an unknown to many Manitobans. That's borne out by the whopping 45 per cent of Manitobans surveyed who said they were still unsure about the new premier's performance -- far higher than for any other premier.

For the record, the most popular premier in the land continues to be Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador, with an 80 per cent approval rating, followed by Saskatchewan's Brad Wall at 56 per cent.

Needing a little love from their voters are Alberta's Ed Stelmach and New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, both of whom have a disapproval rating of 62 per cent. British Columbia's Gordon Campbell has the third highest disapproval rating, at 60 per cent.

While 27 per cent of Manitobans approve of the job Selinger is doing, 28 per cent disapprove, according to the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent in Manitoba. Three months ago, 29 per cent of Manitobans approved the job Selinger was doing, 22 per cent disapproved and 50 per cent weren't sure. (The numbers don't add up because of rounding.)

The difference in the results between the last survey and this one for Selinger could be explained by the margin of error -- or it may have something to do with the state of the province's books.

When surveyed in November, Manitobans were unaware that the province would be well over a half billion dollars in the red in 2009-2010. But many were aware of the bad news by the time Angus Reid did its February survey.

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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