March 23rd, 2018

There are no guarantees in politics

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on March 9, 2018.

A new legislature session and a new party leader should spice things up politically.

There is no doubt Premier Rachel Notley is a seasoned orator. Some would say it was her debating skills in the 2015 election that won votes of Albertans.

Her competition in the legislature since then has been fairly mediocre but yesterday Jason Kenney, leader of the Untied Conservative Party (UCP), took his seat and could be a formidable official opposition leader.

There are many Albertans who are still struggling to come to terms with Kenney switching to provincial politics and uniting the Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives to form the UCP. Regardless of your views on his objectives, you have to admit he has been wildly and overwhelming successful, on all counts, winning with between 61 per cent and 95 per cent at each stage of the process.

Perhaps you are a little skeptical about numbers and in particular polls but they are fascinating nonetheless.

Almost every news broadcast talks about some aspect of U.S. President Donald Trump as if he were our president. Most of the Trump news is negative but it is interesting to see Newsweek revealed this week 50 per cent of likely voters approve of his performance. According to the same report on the same date in President Barack Obama’s first term 43 per cent of likely voters approved of his performance.

The Gallup presidential approval ratings indicates an average approval rating for Obama at 47.9 per cent, George W. Bush 49.4 per cent, Bill Clinton 55.1 per cent and George H.W. Bush 60.9 per cent.

Bring it back to Canada and in January Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating fell to 37 per cent in the annual Mood of Canada survey conducted by Nanos Research. When he was first elected he enjoyed a 60 per cent approval rating. It would be interesting to see if that approval drops further after his recent trip to India, which it is fair to say did not achieve the desired results.

Talking of Trudeau’s approval rate falling to 37 per cent, that is what Stephen Harper garnered at the end of 2014.

There has been so much about polls being inaccurate particularly when done during an election campaign but what the above numbers show is that sometimes the slant of a news story or broadcast can give a very different impression than an independent poll of the average person. They are a snapshot of the average person’s view rather than of people involved in political parties or those feeling disenfranshied by political parties.

It was interesting to hear the average person interviewed about Kenney’s speech in B.C. about what they could expect if the UCP forms the next government. Albertans appreciated him “standing up for Albertans” is how several people put it.

This new spring session in the legislature should be particularly interesting. What Kenney has achieved in a very limited time could be an indication of things heating up a bit in Edmonton.

Notley said last weekend she has no intention of calling an early election. Without any guarantee that the NDP will be re-elected there is no doubt the government will want to achieve a considerable agenda before the election in May 2019. There is no guarantee they will be returned to power.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to, email her at or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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