Friday, May 07, 2010

More poll goodnesssssss that deserves some attention

The inevitable poll about who would be to blame if, say, an election were to occur over the detainee document standoff appears courtesy of Ipsos, commissioned by Canwest: "7 in 10 Canadians say the Afghan detainee issue should not lead to an election: Poll." Well ok. Sounds like common sense, politicians should, theoretically, be able to work out such an issue. Particularly when the Speaker made a ruling which was quite clear in Parliament having the right to demand these documents. Yet we have Stephen Harper in the mix, it's unclear how that x factor will ultimately weigh in.

This was a fun part of the poll too, putting in issue, before the interviewees, whether those muckraking opposition MPs can verily be trusted at all. Canadian public, should we trust these creatures?
The poll concludes 49 per cent of Canadians said opposition politicians "can't be trusted to keep secret the information that's important to our national security because all they will do is play partisan politics with what they learn."

Almost the same percentage — 45 per cent — took the opposite view, agreeing with the statement that opposition MPs "can be trusted with the uncensored document because they will keep secret what could be harmful to our national security." Only in Quebec did a majority of the interviewees — 56 per cent — say they believed the opposition parties could be trusted with the document. (emphasis added)
Interesting. Is that the way it was put to the subjects, "because all they will do is play partisan politics with what they learn?" Because that strikes me as very unhelpful to the discourse on the issue right now. Not to mention editorially heavy on the unnecessary skewing of the content.

The flip side was no better. MPs "can be trusted with the uncensored document because they will keep secret what could be harmful to our national security." Who has said the material in the documents is harmful to our national security? CDS Walter Natynczyk has stated "Not at all, not at all," when asked whether he had any problems with MPs seeing the documents. The framing of the question perpetuates the Harper government talking points.

I don't see this poll on the Ipsos site yet so I'm assuming that the above, as reported, is the way the questions were posed. The Canwest report puts those statements in quotes, as if they are indeed what was put to voters.

Parliamentary supremacy is not something that's up for ditching on the whim of public opinion, particularly not this kind. MPs, like them or not, are our elected representatives and it's a settled matter, they get to see the documents. Right now it's just about working out how that occurs. The way these questions were put to subjects puts the focus on the trustworthiness of MPs. How very unhelpful.

Update: And do we really need to point out the timing of this poll...leading up to Tuesday's deadline.

Further update: And do we really need to point out the irony of reading such poll questions in the week or so after another Canadian pollster has been ferociously pursued for claims of bias by our governing party.