Notwithstanding a flagging economy and an unprecedented campaign of continual vilification by mass media, Astro-Turf agitators, corporate-bankrolled think tanks, right-wing academics and a nearly hysterical online conservative rage machine, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's level of support among Albertans remains statistically unchanged since last February.
Given the intensity and fury of the unrelenting media campaign against her, Notley's stubborn ability to retain the approval of about a third of the Alberta electorate must be deeply frustrating and worrying to the powerful and well-financed groups campaigning to bring her and her New Democratic Party government down.
This is not to say they won't ultimately succeed, of course. Any sitting government wears the performance of the economy while it is in office, no matter what the reasons, so even with honest media coverage, the New Democrats would have an uphill fight. Moreover, this is a survey of nine premiers' personal approval and disapproval ratings, not those of their parties.
Still, these results from the Angus Reid Institute's always entertaining quarterly survey of approval and disapproval levels of nine of Canada's provincial premiers do suggest that mainstream media power and credibility continue to wane gradually and that Notley herself is a remarkable and talented politician capable of making the best of even the worst of times.
As an aside, Prince Edward Island's premier is always excluded by ARI from this survey on the reasonable grounds the island on Canada's East Coast is just too small to be a province, no matter what the Fathers of Confederation were thinking at the time.
I imagine all the usual suspects on the right will be working extra hard in the next quarter to see if they can somehow push Premier Notley's ratings into the 20s. If they succeed, we will see the headlines that were largely missing this time from mainstream media coverage of this aspect of this story.
News coverage of the online survey of 4,629 Canadian adults between Sept. 5 and 11 emphasized the honeymoon popularity of Manitoba's recently elected Conservative Premier Brian Pallister -- pour l'encouragement des électeurs elsewhere, one supposes -- and downgraded the fact Notley remains in the middle of the popularity pack among Canada's premiers despite her province's economic troubles.
The impact on such ratings of economic factors seems to impact Conservative, Liberal and New Democrat politicians in oil-dependent jurisdictions alike, with even the ever popular Brad Wall beginning to wear a little thinner on voters in Saskatchewan, plummeting an impressive nine points, although admittedly remaining in the top position for the time being with a 57 per-cent approval rate.
For Wall, of course, the same media players act as an enthusiastic rooting section and echo chamber, which suggests that while their credibility may be slipping, it remains important.
Also yesterday, the University of Victoria's Gustavson School of Business coincidentally released the results of its second annual rating of Canadians' level of trust in 276 companies and brands. Calculating brand performance using a broad range of measures, the UVic survey polled a sample of 6,385 respondents.
Canada's most trusted brand, according to the UVic survey, was Mountain Equipment Co-op, followed by President's Choice grocery products.
But what matters to this story was the position of Sun Newspapers, which now form the core of Postmedia's Alberta news operations, usually known here at the Postmedia Alberta Frankenpaper. The Sun brand sat at No. 270 of 276 on the UVic brand trust ranking.
Diesel emissions cheaters Volkswagen ranked last, just six places below the Suns.
Speaking of Postmedia, the foundering Toronto-based media company announced another Alberta management shuffle on Wednesday, naming former Edmonton Journal city editor Mark Iype as editor of the Frankenpaper's Edmonton office, whence originate the now nearly identical Sun and Journal paper editions.
Iype replaces Lorne Motley, late of the Calgary Sun and later the Calgary Herald, who took the Edmonton job less than a year ago. Motley was named Postmedia's vice-president responsible for editorial content in Western Canada in this latest shuffle of the company’s deckchairs.
Former Calgary Sun editor Dave Breakenridge becomes newsroom manager of the combined Edmonton newsroom.
Former Calgary Sun editor-in-chief Jose Rodriguez continues to occupy the top job at Postmedia's combined Sun-Herald newsroom in Cowtown.
With Postmedia's Alberta editorial decision-making so dominated by former Sun personnel and its parent company awash in red ink, losing $253 million in the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, it seems quite possible its larger-format paper Journal and Herald editions will soon be eliminated to save a few obsolete pennies.
Speaking of pennies, Postmedia Network Canada Corp. shares were trading at two cents yesterday.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
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