By what yardsticks do we judge the leadership abilities of our provincial premiers in Canada? The Angus Reid organization does regular polling on this. I suspect that considerably more science is involved in measuring the popularity of breakfast cereal, but a lot of people pay attention it seems.
For several years the man at the top of the pile has been Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall. In last place now is Manitoba’s Greg Selinger. That’s because Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland has decided to get out of politics. Less than three years ago, Dunderdale was right behind Brad Wall near the top. Both provinces are rich in resources, enabling them to bring down balanced budgets.
When all is said and done, it boils down to ‘intangibles’, and that penetrating question in the minds of voters “What have you done for me lately”. The tipping point for Kathy Dunderdale seemed to have been the power outages that swept across the Rock barely two weeks ago, part of the ‘winter from hell’ in Canada. It was hardly the Premier’s fault, but she was judged harshly because she did not call the situation a crisis. If she had met the media by candlelight, shivering in a parka and Sorel boots it might have been better for her.
It could be argued that Selinger is now more deserving of last place. Just three years ago he was given high marks for managing a crisis in Manitoba, the devastating flood of 2011. He won an election later that year, promising not to raise taxes. Since then he has raised them twice, and many of the folks who were displaced by the flood are still living in hotels.
It could be that Mr. Selinger’s time has come, but the next Manitoba election is still two years away. That’s an eternity in politics. Kathy Dunderdale might have been a one term wonder in Newfoundland. She chose not to stick around and find out.
I’m Roger Currie