Brian Gallant, Stephen McNeil See Fortunes Rise After Trudeau's Win, Poll Suggests

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A new poll suggests two Liberal premiers may have gotten a boost from the red tide that swept Atlantic Canada in the October federal election.

But the victory of Justin Trudeau's Grits appears to have done little to improve the popularity of their provincial cousins in Ontario and Quebec.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugs New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant as he welcomes him to the First Ministers meeting in Ottawa. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

According to the Angus Reid Institute, which tests the job approval ratings of premiers each quarter, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant jumped nine points since September, and now sits at 34 per cent support.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil also jumped six points during that period to land at 46 per cent. That makes McNeil the second most popular provincial leader behind Saskatchewan's Brad Wall, who perennially wins the honour.

Wall is at 60 per cent approval — an enviable number for most politicians but still three points lower than where he stood at the end of summer.

Gallant's jump to the middle of the pack is perhaps the most significant. The 33 year old won a majority government in September 2014 but saw his approval numbers plummet since then as he raised taxes and made cuts to deal with a $600-million structural deficit.

In the firm's September poll, Gallant was even challenging Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger for the dubious title of Canada's least popular premier. Gallant said at the time he would not campaign for Trudeau as federal Conservative candidates attempted to draw links between his unpopular government and the federal party.

But on election night, Trudeau's Grits swept all 10 seats in New Brunswick. They also took all 11 seats in Nova Scotia, all seven seats in Newfoundland and Labrador, and all four seats on Prince Edward Island.

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Least, Most Popular Premiers (Dec. 2015)
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While the Angus Reid Institute believes Trudeau's triumph on the East Coast has lifted the fortunes of Gallant and McNeil, other Liberals weren't so lucky.

The poll has the job performance of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne at 30 per cent, down a statistically insignificant point from where she was in September. Wynne was a very vocal critic of Harper’s government during the federal election and campaigned alongside Trudeau.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is now at 35 per cent support, a drop of six points from the last quarter.

Manitoba premier remains in the basement

Out west, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley dipped five percentage points since September, but her 45 per cent approval rating makes her among the most popular premiers. British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has rebounded two points to sit at 34 per cent approval.

And Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, who will face voters in an April provincial election, remains in the basement at 22 per cent approval. While that number is unchanged from last quarter, it's five points better than where he stood this time last year.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to the First Ministers meeting in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

There's no data for new Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball because he hasn't even been sworn in yet. His Liberal party captured a landslide majority government last week.

The Angus Reid Institute does not measure the approval rating of P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan — another East Coast Liberal with a majority government — because the sample size for that province is too small.

The survey was conducted online among 6,301 Angus Reid Forum panelists between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1. Similar surveys have a margin of error of 1.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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