Pollsters have a professional watchdog called the "Market Research and Intelligence Association". It is an in-house attempt to auto-regulate the industry. Even so, even they found a conservative pollster guilty of conducting a misinformation campaign against a Liberal MP from the Montréal, Québec region and thereby sullying the reputation and good name of the profession.
In a voter identification poll conducted for the Federal Conservative Party last fall, Campaign Research, Inc. is alleged to have suggested to interviewees that Irwin Cotler had or was about to quit politics. The apparent goal of such a manoeuver is to dissuade voters from voting for a Liberal favorite in upcoming elections.
Following the condemnation by the Market Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA), interim Liberal leader Bob Rae and MP Cotler denounced the disinformation campaign, demanded and apology and a dissociation of the Federal Conservative Party from the offending pollster. While the MRIA has the power to expel members, it stopped short of expulsion, only "censuring" - publically rebuking - Campaign Research, Inc. for violating professional codes of conduct. While many of us might feel that such a finding and action don't go far enough, MRIA did find the violations of public trust compelling enough to redraft it own professional code of ethics:
"The controversy prompted the MRIA earlier this year to update its code of conduct to spell out that voter identification or partisan promotion can not be conducted under the guise of market research." And this dirty tricks campaign was, let us not forget, carried out on the watch of a party that was elected on a platform of "transparency, responsible government and law and order".
What I find so troubling about this affair and the possibly related "Robocalls" misinformation campaign is the relative indifference of the public to these repeated abuses against the public trust and goodwill on the part of Steven Harper's federal conservatives. Have we become so inured to this abuse we no longer react?
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