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The Great Wall of Saskatchewan: Popular, yes, but a peacemaker?

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Brad Wall

No sooner did Trend Research of Edmonton publish a poll showing Alberta Premier Alison Redford was way more popular than Opposition Leader Danielle Smith (62 per cent to 42 per cent) than Vancouver-based Angus Reid was on the spot with considerably different results (55 per cent to 50 per cent for the same match up).

So I guess we’re back, here in Alberta, to being able to play pick your poll -- the better part of four years before we can expect another serious blast of pre-election polls.

Still, while the Reid poll reported in the Edmonton Journal yesterday didn't even bother asking about the leaders of any third or fourth parties like the Alberta Liberals or the NDP -- What’s Raj Sherman? Chopped liver? -- it did have something else that was more fun than a barrel of political science courses!

To wit: It compared all of Canada’s nine premiers to see who was the most popular and Redford, despite having a Reid love-and-approval rating down 13 points from the one Trend gave her, was the second-most popular premier in the land.

What? There are 10 premiers, you say? Thirteen if you count the territories? Apparently what's big enough for Confederation isn't big enough for Angus Reid, so Prince Edward Island went unpolled, and for all we know, Premier Robert Ghiz is the most most-popular premier -- like Dr. Sherman, cited above, he is also a Liberal, and apparently also both of them are chopped liver. (Trend did ask about Sherman, by the way, but not about P.E.I. Sherman got edged out for No. 3 by the Alberta NDP's Brian Mason.)

If this sounds to you like they're all running against each other to be students' council president and Angus Reid is helping them vote the most popular kid (he's 38) off the Island, well, you're just an old cynic with no sense of fun!

The most popular premier, according to Reid's incomplete tally, was Saskatchewan's Brad Wall, leader of the union-hating Saskatchewan Party, with a phenomenal 66-per-cent approval rating. No. 3 after Redford was Manitoba's Greg Selinger, leader of the union-loving New Democratic Party at 48.

So the three most popular premiers came from the three Prairie provinces, apparently without any relationship to the policies they pursue. Go figure! It's always possible there’s something in the water out here on the Great Plains, or just that we love the excuse to alliterate.

Tied with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty for the No. 6 spot -- back when the poll was taken, between Aug. 21 and Aug. 27 -- was Quebec Premier Jean Charest. Readers will note that the 32-per-cent approval rating both men held, according to Reid, is probably not really the sort of score you want if you have an election any time soon. Certainly it didn't go well for Mr. Charest last week.

Which would be bad news for British Columbia's Christy Clark, also a Liberal, after a fashion, who found herself in the unprepossessing No. 8 spot at 28 per cent, still two points better than Nova Scotia's Darrell Dexter, the Knee-Dipper in the cellar. After all, Clark is in fact facing an election pretty soon -- next May.

Indeed, from Clark's perspective, things were actually a little worse, since her Opposition leader, Adrian Dix, was one of two New Democrats tied for the No. 1 most popular Opposition leader title at 53 per cent.

All of this is loads of fun. But if you want to compare methodologies, Trend's is better, in your blogger's opinion, since they actually phoned up 1,000 people in Alberta and asked them questions. Reid relied on 6,657 folks who are Angus Reid panelists. That is to say, they chose themselves, and therefore aren't really random selections.

Meanwhile, the second most popular premier and the second least popular premier -- that'd be Redford and Clark for those of you whose attention has wandered -- plan to be in China together this week to flog the commercial benefits of Western Canada to that giant country’s recently market-intoxicated Communist leaders.

This has the potential to get a little tetchy at times, seeing as Redford and Clark are not pleased with one another about Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway Pipeline plan.

As is well known, Redford thinks Northern Gateway is the greatest thing since key lime pie, and about as benign. Clark used to feel a bit that way too, but that was before she had a Road to Damascus moment on the Road to Kitimat and has come to a darker view of the proposed line's potential contents along with pretty well everyone else in British Columbia. (See popularity ratings, above.)

Presumably it will fall Canada’s Mr. Congeniality -- Brad "Great" Wall -- to restore civility if things take a nasty turn between No. 2 and No. 6 on the road in the former Middle Kingdom.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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