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Almost as beloved as Brad Wall, you'll be shocked to learn the identity of Canada's second most popular premier

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2nd most popular Canadian premier

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A week ago, the Angus Reid polling company, which nowadays styles itself an Institute, released its regular poll of Canada's premiers' popularity.

The poll, which usually shows hardcore conservative Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall in the No. 1 spot as the country's perpetually most popular premier, is normally a great favourite among journalists here in Alberta and elsewhere.

But on September 1 when the Angus Reid Institute sent the media its news release touting the results of its online panel of 6,226 Canadian grownups -- with Mr. Wall as usual in first place with a superlative 63 per cent approval rating from his province's voters -- something weird happened.

I don't think this had anything to do with Wall, actually, even if he's seemed uncharacteristically cranky lately for a guy who’s supposed to be the Mr. Congeniality of Canadian politics. But for some reason, almost nobody covered it!

Leastways, here in Alberta, nothing shows up on Google about a story in the Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Sun or Calgary Sun, or for that matter apparently any of the other media outfits that aren't owned by Postmedia Network. The sole exception? The frequently derided Huffington Post Canada ran a brief story, short on details.

Back in the days when Alison Redford's approval rating as Alberta Premier had plunged south of 30, the media couldn’t get enough of the darned thing. Even last  June -- when Wall was basking at an approval rate of a mere 61 per cent -- the Calgary Herald gave it a nice big black headline.

I asked the Institute's spokesperson about this, but, alas, like me, she had no idea how this state of affairs might have come about, and apparently considerably less interest in wondering about it.

This lack of media interest really is a mystery, and, I guess, it will just have to stay that way. As a public service, I have brought readers a few of the results, better late than never, and that helpful link to the Angus Reid Institute's conclusions for those who want to pore over the survey in detail. I apologize for the delay: I'm not on the news release distribution list.

Canada's least popular premier, it turns out, is still Manitoba's Greg Selinger, now hovering around the same levels as British Columbia's Christy Clark was just before she got re-elected with a big majority in the spring of 2013. (I don't want to be mean about this, but it is a poll based on a self-selecting online panel, and readers are always cautioned not to bet the farm on the conclusions of such always-entertaining research when even the polls that are done right get it wrong.) Still, at 22 per cent, it really sounds like even a lot of Selinger's fellow New Democrats don’t like him very much.

The rest of the premiers mostly had approval ratings in the 30s and 40s, and the pollster for reasons of its own never asks anyone what they think about the premier of Prince Edward Island.

And that's about it… except for one other thing: The second-most popular premier in Canada when the pollster was tilling the fields of public opinion in late August.

It was that woman in Alberta. The New Democrat one. You know… Rachel Notley. She had an approval rating of 50 per cent, which you can take it from an old political blogger is pretty darned good, even if it was only the second best in the country, which according to Angus Reid it was.

Weird, eh? You would have thought the Alberta media would have been interested in something like that, especially with the Calgary-Foothills by-election scheduled to take place just 48 hours later.

Well, maybe they were busy. At the Edmonton Journal they’ve been getting ready to introduce a new website, which will be just like the ones at the Calgary Herald, the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette, plus a "cool redesign" of the print edition and… wait for it… a smartphone app! Stories will be short and snappy for busy modern readers, who are looking for breaking news -- as long as it doesn't break any carefully nurtured preconceptions.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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