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Quebec's Love Affair With Legault Is Outlasting COVID-19 Curfews, Taxes & More

But his approval rating has taken a big hit since May 2020.

Deputy Editor
Quebec's Love Affair With Legault Is Outlasting COVID-19 Curfews, Taxes & More

A majority of Quebecers still approve of Premier François Legault, according to a recent Angus Reid Institute survey — despite the fact that the population has grown increasingly critical of his government's handling of the pandemic.

Legault's approval rating currently sits at 55%, the survey says. That's a big drop from his peak of 77% in May 2020 — and it's his lowest rating since his election in October 2018. But Legault's approval rating is nonetheless second-highest in Canada, behind only Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, who has 57% approval.

"Legault's personal popularity, or approval, was at stratospheric levels in the early days of the pandemic, as were those of many other premiers," Shachi Kurl, the president of Angus Reid Institute, told MTL Blog in an email.

"Doug Ford reached a halcyonic 69% approval. In B.C., John Horgan was at 71%, Blaine Higgs reached 80% at the height of the cross-country love-fest for provincial leaders."

Legault's 22% drop since then is not insignificant, but minor compared to the free-fall of Ontario Premier Doug Ford (currently down 39% from his pandemic peak) and Higgs (down 46%). Legault's ongoing popularity is perhaps most remarkable given that Quebec has arguably been hit the hardest by the pandemic — demonstrating the depth of his support.

"That two years later — after curfews, a catastrophic loss of life within long-term care homes, and now a promised 'health tax' on the unvaccinated — Legault remains above 50% approval, is a testament not only to Quebecers' perceptions of him but their buy-in for the CAQ," Kurl said.

Approval of Legault's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has dropped to 59%, also the lowest rating Angus Reid has reported for the Quebec premier. It's still in positive territory, but far from its high of 92% in April 2020. (Angus Reid notes their most recent survey was conducted before Legault announced the tax on unvaccinated Quebecers.)

Quebecers are generally happy with the province's vaccine rollout, the survey says — 81% say the government has done a good job or a very good job. But 58% say the government has done a poor job or a very poor job of "making rapid antigen tests available where they are needed."

The pandemic response may be affecting voting intentions. A different poll, by Mainstreet Research, showed support for the Coalition Avenir Québec has dropped 10% since their last survey in February 2021, and now sits at 38%. The drop is significant, but the runner-up, the Quebec Liberal Party, is still at a distant 20%.

The Angus Reid survey was conducted from January 7 to 12, 2022, with a sample of 5,002 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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