Once again, Brad Wall is the most popular premier in the country.
An Angus Reid poll released Thursday shows that 67 per cent of the province approves of the way the Saskatchewan premier is handling his duties. It’s one in a long line of polls over the last four years that have put Wall on or near the top.
Bill Boyd, minister of the Economy, says the results come as no surprise. “People across this province believe that premier Wall is doing a very good job in handling the issues here in Saskatchewan and representing Saskatchewan on the national stage.”
Professor Joe Garcia is with Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. He says that historically many premiers and prime ministers have enjoyed the kinds of high numbers that Wall has now.
“But what’s truly remarkable,” says Garcia, “is the consistency of the rating for him. Mr. Wall has enjoyed this kind of rating almost since he started.”
Garcia lists three reasons why Wall remains popular. The first is the positive performance of the economy. Voters tend to like their leaders when the economy is doing well.
The second, says Garcia, is Wall’s ability to separate himself from some of the more unpopular policy decisions that his government has made. “Anything people see wrong with the government is the fault of ministers but not Mr. Wall.”
Lastly, Wall has helped to successfully transform the branding of the Saskatchewan Party, and that’s translated into his own positive image. The party is now seen as more moderate and city-oriented than in years past.
“They have reinvented themselves,” says Garcia. “That’s the major contribution that the premier has made in leading the Saskatchewan Party and establishing himself so strongly. He was able to reinvent it, and reinvent it in a way that didn’t create divisions. And that wasn’t easy to do. That has been his major accomplishment. To some extent the popularity has as much to do with that then in the way that he’s actually governing.”
So, will Premier Wall, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, use his popularity as a mandate to drive through controversial policies?
For Wall, says Garcia, “It’s not a transformational project that he’s after. He’s not saying we’ve got to become more conservative.”