Canada’s 13th Prime Minister John Diefenbaker once said something like: dogs know best what to do with polls.
A half-century later, political pundits and media mavens still put so much faith in pollsters, and the general public tend to believe what they are told. In three recent provincial elections, there have been downright failures in the polling results.
In 2012, Albertans were supposed to believe that the Wild Rose Party would be an easy bet to form the new government, but Allison Redford led her Progressive Conservatives to an increased majority.
Last year, an identical situation in B.C., with the dead-certain polls selecting an NDP government, but Christy Clark’s badly-tarnished Liberals proved them completely wrong. Then, this month in Ontario, the equally-tarnished Katherine Wynne Liberals were also re-elected with an increased majority against all polling predictions.
For so many months, and even years, news consumers in B.C. have been bombarded by media reports, columnists, pundits and amateur scribblers all quoting overwhelming poll numbers that the majority of British Columbians are totally against pipelines and tankers on our coast.
Right after the federal government gave their tacit approval of the Enbridge pipeline, should it comply with the couple hundred conditions laid down by the National Energy Board, another poll was held.
The results were underwhelming, to say the least: an even split of one-third against the pipeline and tankers; one-third for the pipeline and tankers and one third didn’t know.
Alas, who is to say this poll is any more correct than previous ones. There may be a quite easy solution, if elected leaders have the will and backbone.
The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) could have an identical and unambiguous question concerning pipeline and tanker safety attached to all civic ballots on November 15, and let the voters have their say. It may well be non-binding, but we hear so often that elections are the only polls that really count.
The UBCM meet every year in a bunfest for the council members to rub shoulders and swap ideas. They are usually given access to provincial and sometimes federal ministers from whom they want some kind of favours for their respective communities.
What better way for the UBCM to repay their provincial and federal counterparts than by supplying them with a true poll of how British Columbians think about pipelines and tanker safety?