Premier Wynne’s annus horribilis

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An “annus horribilis” to use the Latin phrase.

The Angus Reid Institute reported Tuesday that its Canada-wide poll of 5,300 adults from Dec. 5-12 put Wynne’s approval rating at just 16%.

That’s the lowest of any premier in the country and half the 30% approval rating Wynne had at this time last year.

She’s also plummeted from the 43% approval rating she enjoyed in June, 2013 after being sworn in as premier in February of that year, after replacing Dalton McGuinty, who resigned during the gas plants scandal.

It’s also down from the 41% rating she scored in September, 2014, three months after her victory in that year’s June election.

The danger for Wynne is that numbers this low suggest the public may have already written her off.

By comparison, in Wynne’s 2014 election victory, she was, surprisingly, able to portray herself as an agent of change within Ontario’s Liberal government.

This even though she had been a senior minister in McGuinty’s cabinet during major scandals like the cancelled gas plants, and the Liberals had already been in power for 11 years.

While correlation is not the same as causation, it’s interesting Canada’s least popular premier is a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national carbon price.

Wynne herself is implementing a cap-and-trade market in Ontario starting in January, which will increase consumer prices on many goods and services.

By contrast, Canada’s most popular premier at 58% approval — Brad Wall of Saskatchewan — is the one most opposed to Trudeau’s plan.

The Angus Reid Institute speculated one reason for Wynne’s unpopularity — including a four-drop in approval during the last three months alone — is her unpopular decision to sell 60% of Hydro One, the province’s electricity transmitter and distributor, to the private sector.

Even government polls show three-quarters of Ontarians oppose this and the Canadian Union of Public Employees has launched a lawsuit to try and stop the sale.

Also significant, we suspect, is Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity rates, which have infuriated ratepayers. Wynne still has 18 months to turn the ship around and the Liberals have come from behind before.

That said, the hole they’ve dug for themselves is huge.

Toronto Sun December 13th 2016 by Sun Staff

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