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Manitoba premier says his focus is on beating coronavirus, not dismal polling numbers

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Manitoba Premier Pallister says approval ratings are low because ‘people don’t like COVID’' Coronavirus: Manitoba Premier Pallister says approval ratings are low because ‘people don’t like COVID’
WATCH: When asked about his low approval ratings and the high number of coronavirus infections in the province, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister replied Tuesday that he believes its because "people don't like COVID" and that he would continue to "stay focused" on fighting the pandemic – Dec 1, 2020

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister brushed off the results of a recent survey that found he is the least popular premier in Canada, telling reporters it’s actually COVID-19 Manitobans don’t like.

The Angus Reid survey results released Tuesday show Pallister’s approval rating sitting at 32 per cent, eight points back from the second-worst performing premier, Jason Kenney of Alberta.

Read more: Record number of coronavirus deaths reported in Manitoba, but case numbers slowly dropping

It’s the worst polling performance Pallister has had since being elected in 2016.

“I think people don’t like COVID and that’s fine. I’m fighting COVID and I’ll continue to stay focused on fighting COVID,” Pallister said when asked about the survey at a Tuesday morning press conference.

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Coronavirus: Manitoba issued over 100 tickets to people breaking public health rules, says Pallister – Dec 1, 2020

“The reality of my situation and our government situation is that we’re totally focused on that challenge and that’s where we’ll stay.”

The online survey polled 5,003 Canadian adults, including 499 Manitobans, between Nov. 24 and 30.

Results for other Canadian premiers besides Pallister and Kenney ranged from 64 and 53 per cent, with British Columbia Premier John Horgan and Quebec Premier Francois Legault tying for the top spot.

Read more: $180,000 in COVID-19 fines issued by provincial officers this week: Manitoba Premier

Pallister’s results represented a 12-point drop from Angus Reid polling in August, and is 21-points off his highest showing in September 2016.

Manitoba has been under tight COVID-19 restrictions since Nov. 12, when the province forced the closure of non-essential businesses and banned large public gatherings in the hopes of curbing daily COVID-19 case numbers that have been surging for months.

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Provincial health officials announced 283 new cases and a record-setting 16 new COVID-19 deaths Tuesday.

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Coronavirus: Manitoba’s top doctor urges people stay home as case numbers ‘too high to sustain’ – Dec 1, 2020

Since March the province has recorded more than 17,000 cases of COVID-19 and 328 deaths related to the virus.

While the latest round of restrictions were to remain in effect until at least Dec. 11, Pallister warned Tuesday the lockdown orders may stay in place longer because daily case counts have stayed high and intensive care capacity remains close to the limit.

Pallister didn’t seem worried about the effect extending restrictions into the holidays may have on his polling numbers.

Read more: Manitoba premier says coronavirus restrictions may remain in place into the winter

“My gut feeling is that as we get into winter, it’s going to be critical that we continue with a high level of restrictions for some time,” he said. “I would encourage Manitobans to understand that.”

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“I have been accused of being the Grinch, I am unpopular, according to Angus Reid.”

“But the fact is, it isn’t the poll that matters to me. What matters to me is that we beat COVID and that’s what we have to stay focused on.”