EDITORIAL: Check out who is commissioning the polls

It's difficult to see the Dogwood Initiative as nonpartisan

There is only one poll that matters. In this case, it’s Oct. 19.

Still, it’s fun to read and follow polls during an election campaign and especially entertaining to watch politicians and parties over-react to the results of these polls.

A poll is only as good as its sample size. And the company conducting the poll. Insights West, by any accounts we have read, is a legit, responsible polling company.

But what about the organization that has commissioned the poll? What spin will they put on the raw numbers?

The latest poll, conducted by Insights West for the Dogwood Initiative, suggests Gord Johns of the NDP would get 30 per cent of the vote in the Courtenay-Alberni riding that includes Parskville Qualicum Beach. Conservative John Duncan is at 25 per cent in the poll, while Liberal Carrie Powell-Davidson is at 10 per cent and Green Party candidate Glenn Sollitt at nine per cent. A whopping 26 per cent fall into the other/undecided category.

Insights West conducted a telephone study from

Sept. 9-13 for this poll and the results are based on the responses of 301 adult residents of Courtenay-Alberni. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is plus/minus 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

We received an e-mail from the Dogwood Initiative alerting us to the poll. “These polls are part of the information being offered by Dogwood Initiative’s nonpartisan Vote B.C. campaign, which aims to increase voter turnout in British Columbia,” the e-mail read. Really?

When we clicked on the Courtenay-Alberni button to read the results, this popped up:

“We’re working to elect MPs who will stand up for our province, defend our coast from oil tankers and help rebuild our democracy. Are you with us?”

It then asks for your name and e-mail and then asks how many of these candidates would you consider voting for? Dogwood lists the candidates of Courtenay-Alberni and the only one with a cute little “Pro-tankers” logo beside his photo is Duncan, although Powell-Davidson’s Liberal Party is in favour of the Trans Mountain expansion that would inevitably increase tanker traffic on the Coast.

This was all before we got to what we wanted to see, the Insights West numbers from the actual poll.

There is nothing nonpartisan about the Dogwood Initiative. The term ‘nonpartisan’ means more than not being affiliated directly to a certain party. Many would agree with Dogwood’s goals, which makes it even more curious as to why they would try to paint themselves as nonpartisan.

Thanks for the Insights West polling numbers, Dogwood. However, we prefer our data sans dogma, thank-you very much.

— Editorial by John Harding