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As schoolchildren get their end-of-year report cards and begin their holiday break, federal cabinet ministers have received their own performance reviews.
Polling company Angus Reid released the results of their second annual rankings of the performance of cabinet on Friday, just as MPs head back to their ridings until the new year.
Seamus O’Regan, Newfoundland and Labrador MP and Veterans Affairs minister, had one of the lower scores among ministers; respondents gave him a net performance score of -17, down one point from last year.
Angus Reid calculated scores by subtracting the percentage of those saying the minister did a “good job” from the percentage saying they did a “bad job.”
“(O’Regan) has seen his performance score drop this year. While the Liberal base is still fond of the former Canada AM host, half of non-Liberals (51 per cent) say he has done a bad job, as the Conservative Party has recently attacked O’Regan for the long wait times veterans have faced to have their benefits delivered,” Dave Korzinski, research associate with Angus Reid told the SaltWire Network in an email.
Korzinski also noted that O’Regan was again in the Top 10 most recognized faces in the cabinet this year with 62 per cent awareness.
Lawrence MacAulay, P.E.I. MP and minister of Agriculture, also saw his profile increase in awareness this year, up from 39 per cent to half among the Canadian public.
“The government’s concessions on portions of supply management during NAFTA negotiations have many farmers looking to MacAulay and the Liberal government for compensation and investment, something the Angus Reid Institute found support for this year,” Korzinski said.
MacAulay’s performance score was +4.
Two other Atlantic Canadian ministers, New Brunswick’s Dominic LeBlanc, former Fisheries minister and current minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs, and Nova Scotia’s Scott Brison, president of Treasury Board and Digital Government, were recognized by half of Canadians or fewer.
“LeBlanc, in particular, has had his fortunes change in public opinion between last year and this. This, perhaps owing to a recent report wherein Canada’s ethics commissioner found that he had broken conflict of interest rules after awarding a fishing licence to a company connected to his extended family. His +20 from 2017 has been reduced to a -7 among the Canadian public overall,” Korzinski said.
Canadians gave Brison a performance score of -6, down quite a bit from his +7 score in 2018.
Korzinski said he can’t point to an event that would have caused Brison’s dip in support from 2017. He said most cabinet ministers have a lower performance rating this year, which he chalks up to pre-election negativity among voters, specifically non-Liberal supporters.
For all four Atlantic Canadian cabinet ministers, the percentage of Canadians who believed that they had done a good job was highest in their home region.
Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, who had the difficult task of overseeing the negotiation of the new North American Free Trade Agreement in 2018, seems to be on Canadians’ good side with 49 per cent of Canadians saying she has done a “good job” this year. With a performance score of +20, Freeland was the top-rated cabinet member. Minister of Transport Marc Garneau was the second highest rated cabinet minister with a score of +16, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, who figured heavily in the implementation of the Liberal government’s marijuana legalization strategy, was in third place with a +14 performance score.
On the lowest end of the performance rankings were Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi with a performance score of -36, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen, who was given a -26 rating, and Minister of Seniors Filomena Tassi with a score of -25.
The poll results are based on an online survey of 1,800 Canadian adults, who are members of the Angus Reid forum and was collected from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6. The margin of error for the sample size is +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Top 5 highest/lowest ranked
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland: +20
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau: +16
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould: +14
Minister of Sport and Science Kirsty Duncan: +13
Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and la Francophonie Mélanie Joly: +10
Minister of Finance Bill Morneau: -20
Minister of Employment, Labour and Workforce Development Patty Hajdu: -22
Minister of Seniors Filomena Tassi: -25
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen: -26
Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi: -36
Andrea Gunn is SaltWire Network’s Ottawa bureau chief.