Unite-the-right poll results ring alarm bells and raise interesting questions, none of which are asked by the media

Posted on February 22, 2016, 12:16 am
8 mins

PHOTOS: A pollster asks a typical Albertan if she’d prefer to vote for a united Wildrose-PC Party … or the NDP. Actual Alberta pollsters and their subjects may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Pollster Quito Maggi, Alberta Prosperity Fund and Advocacy Ltd. spokesperson Dave Rutherford, and Preston Manning, who needs no introduction around this blog. Below them: Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.

Last week the busy guys at the Alberta Prosperity Fund put out a news release saying they’d done a poll that showed a unified Wildrose-Progressive Conservative Party would easily whip the New Democrats in an election if it were held today.

Alert readers will recall that Alberta Prosperity Fund and Advocacy Ltd. is a non-profit corporation run by Barry McNamar, a former Wildrose Party fund raiser. Nowadays, in addition to being president of APFA Ltd., Mr. McNamar is the Calgary-based vice-president of operations for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a Fraser-Institute-style right-wing think-tank that operates out of Winnipeg.

QuitoAbly assisted at the self-described “Super PAC” by spokesperson Dave Rutherford, a former right-wing talk-radio host, the company has been very active on social media soliciting contributions and promoting its version of a united right – which just happens to make many supporters of the province’s competing right-wing parties break out in hives.

An election isn’t going to be held today or any time soon, of course, but the results of the poll done for APFA Ltd. nevertheless generated significant heat in the media, if not very much light.

The results suggested virtually every supporter of both the Wildrose Party and the PCs would blindly vote for any unite-the-right candidate presented to them on a ballot. Past research by other pollsters has indicated significant numbers of both parties’ supporters reject the idea of voting for candidates too far to the left or the right of their political comfort zones.

So this set off alarm bells. Adding to the discomfort was the fact little is known about the firm doing the polling, Toronto-based Mission Research.

The survey was sharply criticized on the Progress Alberta site by pollster Quito Maggi, CEO of Mainstreet Research, who speculated it was a power play by the Wildrose Party to stampede doubting PCs into their tent.

RutherfordWildrose insiders, meanwhile, insisted they’re worried too, for the opposite reason. To wit, they say the idea is being pushed by PCs determined to climb back into the province’s right-hand-drivers seat. Wildrose Leader Brian Jean is publicly less specific in his criticism, but recently described such political action committees as “self-interested,” “interfering,” and “trying to push themselves in front of the parade.”

Mr. Maggi complained that there’s no information on the online panel Mission Research used or anything about previous work done by the firm. Others sharply disputed Mission’s claim its survey “was completed online using a randomly-selected, representative sample of 1,500 eligible Alberta voters” on the basis no online panel can be called randomly selected or representative.

“The profile of a typical WRP supporter is very different than a PC supporter, ‎they share views on some economic policy but that’s where the similarities end,” Mr. Maggi told Progress Alberta.

Eventually there will be enough polling to get a handle on what Albertans are likely to actually do come the next election.

ManningIn the meantime, though, this situation raises some interesting questions about others who have a degree or two of separation from APFA Ltd.

Progress Alberta reported that the pollster behind Mission Research, Heather Scott-Marshall, is also doing surveys for the Calgary-based Manning Centre. Manning Centre founder Preston Manning, of course, has been up to his elbows in behind-the-scenes attempts to unite the Wildrose Party and the PCs, whether their supporters like it or not, most famously in December 2014.

When APFA Ltd. announced its plans in a Calgary Herald story back in November 2015, Mr. McNamar described it as having “a shorter-term partisan objective of unifying what we call the common-sense vote.” It is not clear how this partisanship squares with the Frontier Centre’s claimed independent status. It may be relevant that nowhere on its website does the Frontier Centre use the word non-partisan to describe its activities.

Then there’s the recently controversial matter of the media in this province and how they report the news.

APFA Ltd. hired a polling firm no one had ever heard of. That firm came up with results that perfectly matched the sponsor’s preferred outcome. Then the mainstream media reported this as legitimate news without asking any of the obvious questions.

No wonder no one can figure out who the legitimate journalists are in this province!

+ + +

Alberta government to release mental health review today

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman will meet journalists – along, presumably, with anyone who wants to claim they are a journalist – in Calgary this morning to release the report of the province’s Mental Health Review Committee.

HoffmanThe review of addictions and mental health services was ordered by the government in June 2015, just days after the election of an NDP majority in the May 5 general election. The review was conducted by a committee co-chaired by Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann, a respected legislator and a physician, and New Democrat Danielle Larivee, a Registered Nurse. Ms. Larivee is now the minister of municipal affairs and human services.

Public consultations were conducted in the fall.

Given the gravity of the public health crisis caused by the presence on Alberta’s streets of the powerful opioid-replacement drug Fentanyl, overdoses from which killed at least 270 Albertans in 2015, the committee released its recommendations on addictions early, in November 2015.

Those recommendations, now being implemented, included immediate access to harm-reduction tools, including Naloxone antidote kits to medical teams, police and law enforcement, outreach workers, and nurse practitioners administering methadone, as well as better access to needle exchange programs.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

20 Comments to: Unite-the-right poll results ring alarm bells and raise interesting questions, none of which are asked by the media

  1. PIGL

    February 22nd, 2016

    The Frontier Centre was where the Kochs kept their full strength Krazy, Kanadian version. They seem to have dialed it down a notch in the past few years.

    Reply
  2. The Editor

    February 22nd, 2016

    How long will it take for The Right Hon. Stephen Harper’s name to show up as a potential leader for one of these mysterious combo parties?

    Reply
    • Chris

      February 22nd, 2016

      A long, LONG, time. Former Prime Ministers have too many contacts and opportunities than to drop down to a province to attempt a rebuild from the opposition benches. He will resign his seat in a couple of years and land happily (for him, anyway) at a think-tank and/or a couple of corporate boards. Harper has a much better political sense than some other Conservatives have shown (ahem, Prentice, ahem)

      Reply
  3. TENET

    February 22nd, 2016

    Allow me to add a few of my own observations. Hearing Dave Rutherford makes me breaks into hives too, he always did. Next, morticians must be doing some sort of magic to keep Manning and his foundation going, they are the unsung heroes.

    Mr. McNamar has clearly never figured out that in a democracy like ours (atomistic parliamentarianism) one person, one vote is the essence of common sense votes, not the stampede events when herds of blood thirsty right wingers are cut loose: heads down and tails up.

    The Alberta right wingers goring themselves have otherwise been distracted by the hilarious antics of their Republican counter parts. The Lord is going to have a hard time deciding because they all combat and malign each other in his name. It is more of a shame than a political game. The Alberta bunch are uncomfortable about being upstaged, which may explain why Brian has been so lame and mute lately.

    Anyone that has the misfortune to tune in to Fox catches of glimpse of where the “journalism” issue here is headed.

    Reply
  4. oldfreddieMcAngus

    February 22nd, 2016

    Look, I’m from away with relatives in Calgary. Just imagine these nutball rightwingers all getting together, and puffed up with pride winning the next provincial election somehow. If the price of oil hasn’t recovered, and the big players have walked away from the tarsands due to recovery costs higher than net selling price, and there’s no darn money in provincial coffers anyway – what do they think their ideological victory would win for them?

    A chance to natter loudly about nothing of any use at all is my guess. It would be the very definition of a hollow victory. And where are all these ConWildRosiekin people anyway? We know Stephen is hiding in the basement when he isn’t walking the dog or gambling in Vegas wearing an old baseball hat. My relatives are all big corporate types working in highrises, flash offices and all buttoned down in threadbare three piece suits consuming lattes. You meet their co-workers and other people at farmers markets and stores and out and about and they seem like regulah Canajans, eh? Not a rabid right wing wolf among ’em. Puzzles me. You cannot even get them to get nasty by thoughtless attempts at provocation, like the following paragraphs.

    The Con cowboys must be hiding somewhere gradually getting apoplectically insane out in the countryside. Drumheller, say. Trees, Whazzat? That place would make anyone sad and moody and howling at the moon except for the Tyrell museum. The rest is shacks; I know, I ate in one that posed as a restaurant. Charming eccentrics ran the place – they’d fit in here no prob in the highlands and make good Capers. We have practice endorsing the back of UI and welfare cheques and are willing to tutor for a percentage. We’re friendly but not stupid, eh? One guy is already running a website for Yankees to come and live here after the Trumpocalypse, 20,000 hits a day. You may have heard about him, but he’s more ambitious than most.

    The conservative mind never can seem to understand it when they lose, how could it happen, we’re wonderful and it’s always the winnering pol’s fault, never the people who voted them out. Logic, wherefore art thou? Plus you can get a full brekkie for $8 taxes in here down the motel, not the $17.50 plus GST barely warm artisan one with bright orange yolks in Calgary, served by a woman with a giant ring distending her earlobe so it’s like a wifi speaker oh my, and the bacon is still sizzling when you get it. Yowza! Gotta brave the mists with HOT grub and the best WalMart GUM sneakers, not them Eyetalian foot grippers with no soul.

    Get over it, you betcha folk. Nobody said living on top of resources would guarantee getting rich and obnoxious for ever. Ask the Cape Breton coalminer. He knows.

    Meanwhile, we like Notley a lot. She’s a sweetheart.

    Levity is the food of rational discourse. Remember that if you find this note irrationally annoying! We gotta be friends first and you have to let your hair down and enjoy a ceilidh where we all get blind drunk every Friday night and stomp around. Yuh don’t have to impress the neighbours here night and day, boys. Just be yer real selves. If you can remember how to do that.

    TTFN

    Reply
    • Tom in Ontario

      February 22nd, 2016

      Gonzo! Dr. Hunter S. Thompson has risen from the grave.

      Reply
    • PJP

      February 22nd, 2016

      Mr. Climenhaga,

      Won’t you please, for realsies, reach out to OLDFREDDIEMCANGUS, and ask him/her/hir to do us all a real favour, and see that if a full-on guest-posting might be possible?

      Or perhaps you and he/she/zhe? might riff off each other in a joint blog post text conversation debate?

      Coming soon… Euridition vs Levity. The Poet vs the Journalistst. The St. Alberter(?) and the Caper.

      Reply
    • MaryLS

      February 22nd, 2016

      “Meanwhile, we like Notley a lot. She’s a sweetheart.” Notley, like Trudeau, has a plan to sell out the country to the globalists who seek to undermine the Alberta economy. I do not guess you will continue liking Notley when that happens.

      Reply
    • PIGL

      February 23rd, 2016

      What would their victory bring them under the dire economic circumstances you project? I’ll tell you what. An excuse to break the public service unions, lower the minimum wage, and introduce “right to work” legislation. They’d consider themselves heroes, and the “common sense” voters, by which they mean the 27% authoritarian followers, would cheer them on.

      And the NDP would be blamed on everything forever, and most Albertans will believe it unto the 70th generation.

      Ms. Notley has her work cut out for her.

      SASQ.

      Reply
    • Thom

      February 23rd, 2016

      I have no idea who you are , you brave crazy bastard, but I like ya.

      Reply
  5. Craig

    February 23rd, 2016

    Only as true conservative, market fundamentalist party will turn Alberta around.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      February 24th, 2016

      I agree. However, there is no such thing. Too often these so called true conservative, market fundamentalists are in fact lobbyists for the oil and gas industry who are just looking for corporate handouts.

      As it is, the oil and gas industry enjoys over $40 billion in subsidies from various levels of government.

      Subsidies for the oil and gas industry is not truly market fundamentalism is it?

      Reply
    • MAGGIE

      February 24th, 2016

      A Haiku just for you

      Neoliberal
      market zealot, stifling
      opportunity.

      Reply
  6. Pogo should be dead, if he isn't already

    February 23rd, 2016

    So I harp and moan and cajole. Please, realize that playing to the self interests of niche vote blocks is the death of socialism, let alone democracy. Take this opportunity and make it count!

    Reply
  7. Sammy

    February 24th, 2016

    The one way to liberate us from communist rule in Alberta: one conservative party!

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      February 24th, 2016

      Sure, when they come for your money you call them communists, but when they give you money by allowing you to avoid paying your fair share they are conservatives.

      Spoken like a true one-percenter.

      Reply
  8. Tom in Ontario

    February 24th, 2016

    Don’t fret about the Commies. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao are long gone with Fidel soon to follow. The Reds are finished.

    Reply
  9. Dave

    February 26th, 2016

    Hi Dave,

    What about another look into Tobacco Gate? You MUST remember that?? Hey you blogged about it when the PC garbage pulled it off. Now that the NDP have the file NO ONE will touch that one Dave. Why hide it when only the Redfraud gang is to blame?

    Why are the NDP protecting senior bureaucrats of the former government???????

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      February 26th, 2016

      Maybe I will, Dave. I can’t cover every story the mainstream media ignores. There’s only one of me! And I have a day job that, as it did this week, sometimes takes me out of town. Your question is a legitimate one. DJC

      Reply
      • D. Licious

        March 2nd, 2016

        Your blog should become the central clearing house for… THE HEROES OF DEmOCRACY! that’s the ticket! Every petty grievance and perceived wrong doing. That’s your purview. Hire minions now! Pick me!

        Reply

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