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Canada Mandryk: Moe's every-guy image appears to befit pandemic crisis

20:01  12 june  2021
20:01  12 june  2021 Source:   leaderpost.com

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a man wearing a suit and tie sitting at a table: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has seen occasional dips to his popularity, but his approval rating remains the envy of many politicians. © Provided by Leader Post Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has seen occasional dips to his popularity, but his approval rating remains the envy of many politicians.

Since truly arriving on this province’s political scene four years ago by announcing his Saskatchewan Party leadership aspirations with the support of 22 sitting MLAs, what keeps driving Scott Moe’s popularity remains a bit of puzzler.

If would be an understatement to say he isn’t the prototypical successful Saskatchewan premier — let alone, the guy that would blossom in the shadow of the charismatic Brad Wall.

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Charisma. Political intellect. Dynamic oratory skills. Charm. Wit. While it’s always in the eyes of the beholder as to how many of these characteristics any leader possesses, these are the undoubtedly the things that carried Wall, Roy Romanow, Allan Blakeney, Tommy Douglas and — at least for awhile — even Grant Devine through their tenures as Saskatchewan premier.

Yet here sits Scott Moe today, in the middle of one the most intense periods in recent political memory, with a majority government bigger than most ever had and an ongoing personal popularity rating most politicians would envy.

It really is puzzling. Why has Moe flourished?

According to the latest Angus Reid Institute survey of provincial premiers’ popularity , Moe sits fourth in Canada at an impressive 61-per-cent approval.

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Most stunning is the June survey comes after a budget with the largest deficit in Saskatchewan history and in the middle of pandemic where intense scrutiny is a daily thing.

The latter has taken its toll on conservative allies like Ontario’s Doug Ford (35 per cent approval rating) Manitoba’s Brian Pallister (33 per cent) and Alberta’s Jason Kenney (31 per cent).

More confounding — especially to Moe’s social media snipers — is premiers living in the Atlantic bubble (except for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Andrew Furey at 62 per cent) did not fare nearly as well in the Angus Reid poll.

Clearly, there’s something going on with Scott Moe — something not apparent to the casual political observer and certainly lost on his foes.

It may all come down to a simple matter of trust.

What drives Moe’s critics batty is they see Moe as just another right-wing, anti-Justin Trudeau conservative leader no different from the others that once adorned the cover of Maclean’s magazine as “The Resistance” to the carbon tax.

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Since that 2018 magazine cover, federal Conservative Andrew Scheer fell victim to unrequited 2019 election results and a mini-scandal over the party paying for his kids’ private school in Ottawa.

Kenney now has his own mini-scandal brewing over his Sky Palace rendezvous, but his problems mostly seem to be about being another out-of-touch, untrustworthy and insincere politician. Ford and Pallister each face similar image crises. Like Kenney, they too may be headed toward the political exit, if current polls come to fruition.

Only Moe appears to be emerging relatively unscathed, notwithstanding a concerted effort during the 2020 election by his political enemies to revisit his two-decade-old record for drunk driving and an at-fault traffic fatality.

Those closest to the Saskatchewan premier say Moe’s popularity remains high because he seems less like a politician and more like a guy you’d want as a neighbour. Hardworking. Steady. Dependable. Down to earth.

And during a pandemic that’s been a sea of complicated and divisive issues that have swamped most other current leaders once seen as more capable than the Saskatchewan premier, those close to Moe believe his every-guy image is working in his favour.

Rather than expecting a political leader to be a hero who saves the day, they theorize Saskatchewan people see Moe as more of the character Tom Hanks plays in most of is movies — the ordinary guy thrust into extraordinary situations.

One can already hear the jokes from detractors. Forrest Gump. More like Hank Hill than Tom Hanks, referring to the cartoon character to which Moe bears a resemblance.

But it’s worth noting another seemingly ordinary Saskatchewan premier — Lorne Calvert, who similarly succeeded a more dynamic leader — also used to get Forrest Gump comparisons.

And no one can really argue with the polls. Whatever Moe is doing is working.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

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