Rachel Notley does remarkably well in face of unrelenting campaign of vilification … Sun newspapers? Not so much …

Posted on September 23, 2016, 1:56 am
6 mins

PHOTOS: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. Below: Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, the Mr. Congeniality of Confederation if you believe his press clippings; Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.

Notwithstanding a flagging economy and an unprecedented campaign of continual vilification by mass media, Astro-Turf agitators, corporate-bankrolled think tanks, right-wing academics and a nearly hysterical online conservative rage machine, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s level of support among Albertans remains statistically unchanged since last February.

Given the intensity and fury of the unrelenting media campaign against her, Ms. Notley’s stubborn ability to retain the approval of about a third of the Alberta electorate must be deeply frustrating and worrying to the powerful and well-financed groups campaigning to bring her and her New Democratic Party government down.

bradwallThis is not to say they won’t ultimately succeed, of course. Any sitting government wears the performance of the economy while it is in office, no matter what the reasons, so even with honest media coverage, the New Democrats would have an uphill fight. Moreover, this is a survey of nine premiers’ personal approval and disapproval ratings, not those of their parties.

Still, these results from the Angus Reid Institute’s always entertaining quarterly survey of approval and disapproval levels of nine of Canada’s provincial premiers do suggest that mainstream media power and credibility continue to wane gradually and that Ms. Notley herself is a remarkable and talented politician capable of making the best of even the worst of times.

As an aside, Prince Edward Island’s premier is always excluded by ARI from this survey on the reasonable grounds the island on Canada’s East Coast is just too small to be a province, no matter what the Fathers of Confederation were thinking at the time.

I imagine all the usual suspects on the right will be working extra-hard in the next quarter to see if they can somehow push Premier Notley’s ratings into the 20s. If they succeed, we will see the headlines that were largely missing this time from mainstream media coverage of this aspect of this story.

News coverage of the online survey of 4,629 Canadian adults between Sept. 5 and 11 emphasized the honeymoon popularity of Manitoba’s recently elected Conservative Premier Brian Pallister – pour l’encouragement des électeurs elsewhere, one supposes – and downgraded the fact Ms. Notley remains in the middle of the popularity pack among Canada’s premiers despite her province’s economic troubles.

The impact on such ratings of economic factors seems to impact Conservative, Liberal and New Democrat politicians in oil-dependent jurisdictions alike, with even the ever popular Brad Wall beginning to wear a little thinner on voters in Saskatchewan, plummeting an impressive 9 points, although admittedly remaining in the top position for the time being with a 57-per-cent approval rate.

pallisterFor Mr. Wall, of course, the same media players act as an enthusiastic rooting section and echo chamber, which suggests that while their credibility may be slipping, it remains important.

Also yesterday, the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business coincidentally released the results of its second annual rating of Canadians’ level of trust in 276 companies and brands. Calculating brand performance using a broad range of measures, the UVic survey polled a sample of 6,385 respondents.

Canada’s most trusted brand, according to the UVic survey, was Mountain Equipment Co-op, followed by President’s Choice grocery products.

But what matters to this story was the position of Sun Newspapers, which now form the core of Postmedia’s Alberta news operations, usually known here at the Postmedia Alberta Frankenpaper. The Sun brand sat at No. 270 of 276 on the UVic brand trust ranking.

Diesel emissions cheaters Volkswagen ranked last, just six places below the Suns.

Speaking of Postmedia, the foundering Toronto-based media company announced another Alberta management shuffle on Wednesday, naming former Edmonton Journal city editor Mark Iype as editor of the Frankenpaper’s Edmonton office, whence originate the now nearly identical Sun and Journal paper editions.

Mr. Iype replaces Lorne Motley, late of the Calgary Sun and later the Calgary Herald, who took the Edmonton job less than a year ago. Mr. Motley was named Postmedia’s vice-president responsible for editorial content in Western Canada in this latest shuffle of the company’s deckchairs.

Former Calgary Sun editor Dave Breakenridge becomes newsroom manager of the combined Edmonton newsroom.

Former Calgary Sun editor-in-chief Jose Rodriguez continues to occupy the top job at Postmedia’s combined Sun-Herald newsroom in Cowtown.

With Postmedia’s Alberta editorial decision-making so dominated by former Sun personnel and its parent company awash in red ink, losing $253 million in the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, it seems quite possible its large-format paper Journal and Herald editions will soon be eliminated to save a few obsolete pennies.

Speaking of pennies, Postmedia Network Canada Corp. shares were trading at 2 cents yesterday.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

20 Comments to: Rachel Notley does remarkably well in face of unrelenting campaign of vilification … Sun newspapers? Not so much …

  1. September 23rd, 2016

    Ran across my fair share of Albertans this summer. One could not help but take note of the lack of expensive toys, particularly watercraft, they were not towing behind them as in previous summers. Reviews of their government were mixed – much as you would expect of a mid-term government.

    Reply
  2. J.E. Molnar

    September 23rd, 2016

    I’m beginning to really question the validity of these “online” polls that pay people to participate or offer some form of inducement to get them to reveal their innermost thoughts. There should definitely be a caveat at the beginning of each article alerting readers of the disingenuous means of data collection. With all the inherent problems of data collection in the age of cell phones, robo calls and online pay-for-play methodology, can we really trust the accuracy of these results?

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      September 23rd, 2016

      I agree, J.E. What this is is an accurate representation of the opinions of people who Are bored enough that they welcome the opportunity to share their opinion, or the desire for the inducements you mentioned. You can pretty much guarantee there aren’t many full time employed parents in the sample, or CEOs.

      Bob

      Reply
    • September 23rd, 2016

      You have too much faith in old methodologies. But I share your concerns with panel companies.

      Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      September 23rd, 2016

      Probably… but their rage, I think, is an expression of subconscious weakness – as if they know that what they do is, at least, unjustifiable and, at most, plain wrong. Referring to Trump, someone wrote recently that only the weak build walls.

      Reply
  3. Tim Conrad

    September 23rd, 2016

    A little historical fact: PEI’s population was over 20,000 larger than Alberta’s in 1867. While small, and questionable as a province to this day, you can see why the Fathers of Confederation walked from ship docks to the current legislature, and considered it a province.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      September 23rd, 2016

      Given what Alberta looked like in 1867 (but I think you want to cite 1872) I’m guessing the population of PEI was 20,050!

      Reply
      • Bill Malcolm

        September 27th, 2016

        Ho, ho, ho.

        Wrong. Very bad guess. Here’s the truth:

        “Prince Edward Island before Confederation was home to approximately 87,000 people. Most of the population was of Irish, Scottish, English, and Acadian descent, but there were also small Black and Mi’kmaq communities. Life had a decidedly rural flavour.”

        Not unlike Canada at large, one presumes. And I imagine Alberta in 1872 was decidely frontier-like, not even rural.

        Reply
        • Lyle Stewart

          September 29th, 2016

          Alberta wasn’t a province or even part of the Dominion of Canada as its territory continued to be administered by the UK in 1867, or 1872, when BC joined Confederation. Alberta was granted provincial status in 1905, when its population was 160,000.

          Reply
          • Val Jobson

            September 29th, 2016

            Alberta was part of the Northwest Territory which Canada paid the Hudson’s Bay Co. for in 1870. So it had been a corporation not UK gov’t administering the area, which really belonged to the First Nations.

            Canada then made treaties with the First Nations to acquire land title 1871 to 1877.

            BC joined Confederation in 1871.

            Most of the population in Alberta in 1872 would have been Indigenous and recovering from the smallpox epidemic of 1869-70, though in southern Alberta the trade in whiskey for buffalo hides was causing much damage. No mounties yet, they arrived 1874.

  4. Anne Peterson

    September 23rd, 2016

    I used to like the Edmonton Journal so much. My son delivered it, here in our northern town, with his dog hitched to his toboggan. Sigh!

    Reply
  5. David

    September 23rd, 2016

    Most Premier’s popularity ratings tend to go down a lot after the honeymoon period is over, with a few exceptions such as Premier Wall, although I think the shaky economy may be starting to pull his numbers down now too. I suspect the most recently elected premier in Manitoba will follow that trend and in a year or so his numbers will not be so good then.

    One thing I always find interesting is whether a Premier’s popularity is higher than their party or not. The ones that are lower should think seriously about their job security – many changes can be made to help parties be more popular, but if the premier is part of the problem, then you can guess what part of the solution might be.

    Fortunately for Premier Notley, she consistently seems to be more popular than her party, so she remains an asset to it, not a liability.

    Reply
  6. Roger Foster

    September 23rd, 2016

    Note that the right is split at the moment. Once the right unites behind one party (preferrably the Wildrose), Notley is toast.

    Reply
  7. Val

    September 23rd, 2016

    sure mrs. Notley could retain her quite high level of approval even in such poor economic circumstances due to not ability of her opponents to offer anything really acceptable and believable for Alberta’s electorate.
    i’m not agree with every her decision or move but i see, in her own, as a person and a politician, in spite of quite weak team and lack of experience in governing, she’s doing very well so far.

    Reply
  8. Me

    September 25th, 2016

    MINIMUM WAGE IS A JOB KILLER. So many state that it creates prosperity, but Rachel is Proving the Point

    Reply
  9. Dreamer

    September 25th, 2016

    I am underwhelmed by the dearth of facts re Premier notley. The sheer fact of wishful unite the righteousness create slight queasiness. The fight United to rule and nearly destroy the country try of inclusivity, Canada. Now, for at least three more years we have the chance again to Ora twice compassion.

    Reply
  10. David

    September 26th, 2016

    The price of oil goes down, oil companies lay off workers – the right blames Premier Notley. The price of cattle goes down and a feedlot closes – the right blames Premier Notley.

    I wonder if the price of oil eventually goes up some before the next election and some workers are hired back, will they give her the credit? If not, then it will be their credibility in tatters.

    Reply

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