Num­bers are not an as­set

Truro Daily News - - OPINION -

Po­lit­i­cal polls have come a long way from be­ing in­fre­quent snap­shots of a spe­cific pe­riod in time. In this age of mod­ern an­a­lyt­ics, they hold con­sid­er­able sway gaug­ing the mood of the pub­lic. Trend­ing poll num­bers now re­sult in res­ig­na­tions and de­mands for change – start­ing at the top. Polling is non-stop and noth­ing is left to chance – from prod­ucts to politi­cians.

A re­cent An­gus Reid poll ranked the recog­ni­tion fac­tor and per­for­mances of fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters in Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s in­ner cir­cle. The hol­i­day mes­sage for prom­i­nent At­lantic Cana­dian cab­i­net min­is­ters is far from pos­i­tive and should pro­vide much to pon­der over the Christ­mas break. A fed­eral elec­tion is com­ing up in Oc­to­ber. The date now seems solid fol­low­ing com­ments from the PM that he has no in­ten­tion of go­ing ear­lier than the leg­is­lated date. Polling sug­gests Mr. Trudeau is slip­ping in terms of per­for­mance and leader pref­er­ence. For the first time since his 2015 elec­tion, he is not the leader seen as the best prime min­is­ter.

As the PM’S num­bers slide, so do those of his sup­port­ing cast. Polling num­bers sug­gest At­lantic cab­i­net min­is­ters are in­creas­ingly vul­ner­a­ble and the elec­tion will be more in­ter­est­ing than might have been be­lieved, even a few short months ago.

Con­sider Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sea­mus O’re­gan. The New­found­land and Labrador MP is among the most rec­og­nized cab­i­net min­is­ters, thanks to his pre­vi­ous ca­reer as a na­tional tele­vi­sion host. But his per­for­mance num­bers are fall­ing, largely from re­cur­ring prob­lems within his depart­ment.

Try as he might to change pol­icy, he ad­mits the mind­set con­tin­ues in­side the depart­ment which prefers to say no rather than yes to vet­er­ans and their con­cerns. The de­lays in deal­ing with wait times for vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits have moved seam­lessly from Con­ser­va­tive to Lib­eral gov­ern­ments.

Then there is Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Lawrence Ma­caulay from P.E.I. He was fly­ing be­low the radar in cab­i­net for two years, but his recog­ni­tion fac­tor shot up in 2018, thanks to NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions and the con­ces­sions made by Canada in sup­ply man­age­ment with dairy, poul­try and eggs. Farm­ers and oth­ers were out­raged, and Mr. Ma­cAulay’s recog­ni­tion num­bers sky­rock­eted, while his per­for­mance num­bers plum­meted.

New Brunswick MP Do­minic Leblanc, a close friend of Mr. Trudeau, was con­sid­ered un­touch­able un­til Canada’s ethics com­mis­sioner ruled he broke con­flict of in­ter­est rules for award­ing a lu­cra­tive clam fish­ing li­cence to a com­pany con­nected to his fam­ily. His recog­ni­tion level re­mains high but his per­for­mance rat­ing crashed.

Nova Sco­tia’s Scott Bri­son has a high recog­ni­tion fac­tor but his per­for­mance rat­ing also dropped for no ob­vi­ous rea­son, ex­cept per­haps, guilt by as­so­ci­a­tion, although the Phoenix pay sys­tem boondoggle is find­ing a home at his doorstep.

The poll re­flects gen­eral de­clin­ing sup­port for Mr. Trudeau and his Lib­eral govern­ment. The num­bers are worse out­side At­lantic Canada but are grow­ing in this re­gion as well.

High recog­ni­tion num­bers are usu­ally con­sid­ered an as­set. With Mr. Trudeau’s At­lantic min­is­ters, it’s an in­creas­ing li­a­bil­ity as the re­gion con­nects fail­ures to names and faces.

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