POLITICS

Stephen Harper Makes Big Gains On Ranking Of Canada's Best Prime Ministers

08/17/2011 09:28 EDT | Updated 10/17/2011 05:12 EDT
AP, Getty, CP

Stephen Harper has made big gains in an annual poll of Canadians on who they think is the best prime minister since 1968.

The Angus Reid online poll found that 19 per cent of Canadians voted Stephen Harper as the best prime minister, up eight points since last year.

The ranking puts Harper in second place, still far off Pierre Trudeau’s top ranking at 36 per cent. It’s the fourth year in a row that Trudeau took top spot since the survey was first conducted in 2007.

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Still, Harper’s eight-point surge was ‘remarkable,’ Angus Reid pollster Mario Canseco told the Globe and Mail:

“Gaining eight points in a year is remarkable, although he continues to trail Trudeau ... We’ll have to see if the majority provides Harper with a chance to gain some points.”

Much of Trudeau’s popularity stems from his connection in the minds of Canadians to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Stephen Clarkson, a political economy professor at the University of Toronto, told The National Post. That connection is reinforced in history classes across the country, Clarkson told the Post:

Their idea of Trudeau has been manufactured for them in either the media or their high school classes … For them, they too would have got the message about the Constitution and the Charter, which was contested but then became very popular.

Harper's second-place result was followed by Jean Chrétien with 12 per cent, and Brian Mulroney with six per cent.

Trudeau is particularly popular in Atlantic Canada (52%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (41%) and Ontario (also 41%). Harper is the top choice for Albertans (35%). Chrétien and Mulroney have their best showing in Quebec (14% each), Angus Reid reports.

The online survey of 1,002 Canadian adults was conducted Aug. 10-11. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1%.