TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s pandemic sheen may be wearing off, a new poll suggests, but he still enjoys support from a majority of the province.
Ford’s approval rating has fallen to 55 per cent, a drop of 14 percentage points since May, according to the poll released by Angus Reid Institute Tuesday.
At his high point, that rating was 69 per cent. The moment came early in the pandemic, a couple months after the premier started holding daily press briefings on the status of COVID-19.
He showed a side of himself that was noticeably different from the tough-talking premier Ontarians saw early in his mandate. He spoke frankly about the coming economic crisis — “some people are gonna face some tough times” — and got choked up speaking about his own mother-in-law, who caught COVID-19 in a long-term care home.
“From a public opinion perspective, the early days of the pandemic were a strongpoint for Premier Doug Ford in Ontario,” the institute’s new report said. “Ford’s shift in persona enabled him to earn the approval of Ontarians previously entrenched along party lines.”
He’s now on the less popular side of the Canadian premiers’ spectrum.
Ford’s drop comes as cases of COVID-19 surge once again. Ontario’s reported more than 1,700 new cases of the novel coronavirus every day for the past four days. And the premier’s faced an onslaught of criticism in recent weeks, after the auditor general said his government’s response to the pandemic was “disorganized and inconsistent” and the Toronto Star reported he had ignored public health advice.
B.C. Premier John Horgan, who won re-election in October, is tied with Quebec Premier François Legault for most popular premier in Canada. Both are approved of by 64 per cent of voters in their provinces.
Legault’s popularity stands up even though his province has seen more COVID-19 infections and deaths per capita than any other in Canada.
“Despite this, Premier François Legault continues to be perceived as a fixture of strength, his approval statistically unchanged at 64 per cent,” Angus Reid Institute said.
The least popular are Manitoba’s Brian Pallister, at 32 per cent approval, and Alberta’s Jason Kenney, at 40 per cent. The two Prairie premiers are grappling with soaring second waves of COVID-19 cases and devastating outbreaks at institutions.