News Provincial

Liberals could win majority if they ditch Wynne as leader: Poll

By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne takes part in a plowing competition during the International Plowing Match in Harriston, Ont., on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah Yoon)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne takes part in a plowing competition during the International Plowing Match in Harriston, Ont., on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah Yoon)

Ontario’s governing Liberals could well win another majority — if they send leader Kathleen Wynne packing.

A new poll from Mainstreet Research for Postmedia, released Thursday, asked respondents how they’d vote if the Liberals called an election with somebody other than Wynne leading the party. It found 39% would pick the Liberals, a four-point lead over Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives.

Breaking out Toronto, that lead extends to a staggering 22 points, with a Liberal sweep likely in the 416.

“The bad news for current premier and party leader Kathleen Wynne is that it is all but impossible right now with her at the helm,” said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research.

“With the current premier as leader, the Liberals trail by 15 (percentage points) and would be hard-pressed to win a majority of seats even in the 416, where they are leading by just 10 (points).”

In the GTA, 29% of people said they’d choose the PC Party, regardless of whether the Liberals voted in a new leader, while in Toronto, 40% said they’d vote Liberal if Wynne was out.

Roughly 34% of those surveyed strongly disapprove of the way Wynne is handling her position as premier, while 33% somewhat disapprove. A mere 6% say she’s doing a great job. Contrast that with 19% of Brown supporters who strongly agree he’s filling the shoes a leader should and 15% who strongly disagree.

Meanwhile, 24% of people strongly approve of Andrea Horwath’s work as NDP leader, while 16% strongly disapprove.

“As we approach the mid-term of Kathleen Wynne’s mandate, it appears her own popularity lags the Liberal brand drastically,” Maggi said. “This reversal of fortunes for the once-popular Wynne, who outpaced her party brand in June 2014 to lead them to an unexpected majority, is quite astounding but not unprecedented in Canadian politics.”

The poll also found 48% of people feel the Ontario government isn’t going far enough to reduce the cost of electricity.

Whether Wynne is able to recast herself leading up to the 2018 fall election is to be seen, Maggi noted.

“With 20 months till the next election, it may be possible to right the ship,” Maggi said. “An expected contest in the Liberal bastion of Ottawa-Vanier will be an opportunity for the Wynne Liberals to prove the results of Scarborough-Rouge River were a meaningless blip, much like the Etobicoke-Lakeshore loss in 2013.”

All the while, the poll indicates Brown is picking up steam. His personal awareness and approvals have increased and now sit at 44% — 12 points back of Horwath, who sits at 56% and outpaces Wynne at almost three to one.

The poll of 2,562 Ontarians was conducted Sept. 17-18, with a margin of error of +/- 1.94%, 19 times out of 20.

jyuen@postmedia.com 



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