Manitobans more likely than Saskatchewan neighbors to punish bad government, poll finds
Manitobans and Saskatchewanians have a lot in common, including the view that their governments have mismanaged the issues they care about most: health care and inflation, according to a poll released Friday.
When it comes to support for the ruling party, however, the Prairie neighbors are poles apart, according to the Angus Reid Institute poll.
In Manitoba, successive polls have shown that the PC government led by Premier Heather Stefanson will be removed from office in an impending election. Next door, however, the Saskatchewan Party led by Premier Scott Moe has a 23-point lead over its closest rival when it comes to voter intent, according to the poll.
Manitobans may be more inclined to blame the governing party and the premier when things go wrong because they quickly take credit for success, said Christopher Adams, a political studies professor at the University of Manitoba.
“Everything the government has done has been heavily politicized because the prime minister has been at the forefront since the Progressive Conservatives were elected,” he said, pointing to former prime minister Brian Pallister, who led the party to victory in the spring 2016 provincial elections.
“It was the Prime Minister who was at the center of discussions on the management of the pandemic and other government issues. (Pallister) was at the forefront and scrums. He is the one who made political statements, whether it was to cut taxes, fight the pandemic or reform the education system.
But Pallister was following in the footsteps of his predecessors, including Greg Selinger and Gary Filmon, Adams said.
“I think we Manitobans tend to focus on who runs the show and who should we blame if there are deficits or if there is a health care crisis or if we all fall sick because of COVID,” he said, adding that he did not. I don’t know why that doesn’t seem to be the case in Saskatchewan.
“It could be that (former prime minister) Brad Wall and Scott Moe have proven themselves more capable of charming the electorate during difficult times than our current prime ministers,” he said.
Conservatism may have become so central to the identity of Saskatchewan voters that the idea of voting for a left-wing opposition party is ruled out, said Lisa Young, a political science professor at the University of Calgary.
“I think the essence of the contrast between the two is that in Manitoba voters see a viable alternative government in the NDP, whereas in Saskatchewan they don’t,” Young said Friday.
“Saskatchewan’s partisan politics now resembles that of Alberta before 2015. Even when there is discontent with the ruling party, there is no opposition party that voters are ready to support.
If Saskatchewan voters are really unhappy with the Saskatchewan Party, they might well decide not to vote, but they wouldn’t vote for the NDP, she said.
“I think a lot of Saskatchewan voters have become similar to a lot of Alberta voters: conservatism is part of who they are and part of their sense of what it’s like to be from Saskatchewan (and) from Alberta. So dissatisfaction with the ruling party manifests itself in trying to oust the leader of the party rather than voting for an alternative party,” she said.
The poll by Angus Reid, a not-for-profit organization, found that the cost of living was the most pressing concern for residents of Saskatchewan (68%) and Manitoba (67%). Health care ranks second in both provinces (47% in Saskatchewan, 55% in Manitoba).
In Manitoba, 83 per cent say the government has mismanaged health care; 87 percent say he mismanaged inflation. In Saskatchewan, 68% think Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party government have mismanaged the cost of living and 66% say health care has been mismanaged.
The Angus Reid Institute survey was conducted online June 7-13 among a representative random sample of 594 Saskatchewan residents and 468 Manitobans who are Angus Reid Forum members. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/- five percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people who call Manitoba home, Carol joined the office of the Legislative Assembly in early 2020.
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