The May 2020 Update of the Edelman Trust Barometer shows citizens’ trust in the Canadian government has increased dramatically since January 2020, most of all research categories.  

The repost shows trust is at “an all-time high” across all elements. In Canada, positive sentiments show 70% trust for the Canadian Government, 61% trust for Business, and NGOs. There is a neutral level of 58% trust for Media, but that is still an increase since January. I expect some temporary erosion of trust in the Government of Canada with the recent WE Charity incident.


So, what is the trust level of the Alberta Government?   Angus Reid has reported a May 2020 poll comparing the February 2020 approval levels of the Provincial Premiers.  As expected, there is a boost in approval for every Premier, no doubt due to the COVID pandemic consequences.  

However, here is an irony: two of those Premiers with some of the biggest increases in approvals (McNeill Nova Scotia +35 and Ball NFLD +31) have recently resigned their offices.   

Premier Ford of Ontario has the biggest bump at +38 points.  Fellow w Conservative Premiers, Pallister of Manitoba (+4), and Kenney of Alberta (+1) have, by far, the smallest approval bumps of all.  They are the only Premiers who failed to break through to majority approval levels; 47% for Pallister, and 48% for Kenney. 


Approval is not the same as Trust, but there must be some correlation since both are judgment calls.  The judgment about trusting someone is the degree of confidence we have that they will perform as expected and that they won’t fail us.   

Trust always imposes a set of performance standards, some explicit and others implicit.  It depends, in part, on the accuracy of our assessment of performance.  Stephen Covey notes “…we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviors.”  

So, let’s look at the concept of trust, in government and otherwise.  Stephen Covey has studied the concept in his book “The Speed of Trust.”  In the context of trust in leadership, he prophetically observes: “Trust is equal parts character and competence…You can look at any leadership failure, and it’s always a failure of one or the other.” 

Gandhi noted, “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”  What does this mean for how Albertans feel about trusting the UCP government?  

The hyper-partisan adversarial gamesmanship, win-at-all-costs motivation is driving Alberta’s political culture.  Increased tribalism and turf defending undermines citizen’s trust in the Government of Alberta decision-makers, policy and political advisors, and self-serving Influentials who manipulate UPC politicians. 


When we apply our citizenship by voting for a party, a politician, or a platform, we are granting our consent to be governed. We grant power to politicians to make decisions about our persons, our families, our livelihoods, our communities, and our rights, by virtue of the vote choices we personally make.

That citizenship vote is something of great value to all politicians.  It is a risk we take as citizens because we are choosing to entrust someone to have integrity, good character, sound judgment, and competence.  

Voting is, in many ways, an act of personal vulnerability. In order to be done well, a voter should be conscious of, and well-enough informed to make an assessment of the probability that the candidate, leader and/0r party will have the integrity, character, and competency to do what they “promised.”   


Charles Feldman in his “Thin Book of Trust,” outlines four “distinctions” one should apply in assessing the trustworthiness in life, and (I would suggest,) especially as a citizen in any political context: 

Sincerity is an assessment of honesty and integrity. Can you be trusted to say what you mean and mean what you say? Are your opinions backed up with reliable relevant evidence?  Will your actions align with your words?

Reliability is an assessment of how committed and consistent you are in keeping your promises.   

Competence is the assessment of the skills, knowledge, ability, and capacity to actually deliver on what you proposed to do as a policymaker. 

Care is the assessment that you have the best interests of others in mind – not just your partisan base,  your donors or your tribal Influentials.  In many ways, care is the most important distinction for building and sustaining the trust of citizens.   

When all these aspects of trust are considered, it is not at all surprising that the Kenney-controlled, Harper influenced, UCP government is distrusted by the majority of Albertans.   

The Disaster Duo

So, the key citizenship question for Albertans is “If not this, then what?”  I will have more to say on this in forthcoming posts.  So, stay tuned.  Stay attuned. Do Not Tune Out.  Time to take some personal political action and Press for Change.

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