Public opinion polling at ‘crisis point,’ more transparency needed, says head of new organization

Published on Oct. 05, 2015, in The HillTimes Online

Author: Darrell Bricker, CEO of IPSOS Global Public Affairs and LISPOP Board Member

Public opinion polling in Canada has reached a “crisis point,” with public confidence eroded, and standards around transparency and reporting requirements need to be set and followed, says Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs and founding head of the recently launched Canadian Association of Public Opinion Research (CAPOR). The new initiative aims to do just that but has raised concern among some pollsters.

Polling has changed over his 30 years in the business with several new methodologies emerging, he said, but they’re reported on in roughly the same way whether they’re done “responsibly” or not.

“We’ve reached a kind of crisis point in this where somebody finally has to kind of grab the reigns and say, ‘Okay, enough is enough,’” he told The Hill Times last week.

Read more. 

10 seats where strategic voting might decide the election

Published Sept. 17, 2015, in Global News

Strategic voting: appealing in theory, difficult in practice.

In every election, there are people who decide to vote for their “second choice” party, in the hopes of stopping their least favourite party from getting elected.

It generally happens when people believe their favourite party has no chance of being elected in their riding, but they still want to make their vote matter.

This year, the organization Leadnow is running a large campaign Their aim is to try and get enough people to strategically vote against the Conservative Party, ensuring Liberal and NDP candidates get elected in ridings where vote-splitting has occurred in the past.

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Seat projections show a tight race but one thing’s (almost) certain – a minority government

Published on Sept. 15, 2015, at Global News.

The latest outlook from the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) projects the NDP could pick up 120 seats, the Conservatives 116, and the Liberals 101. The projections are based on aggregated and weighted samples of polls from Ipsos, Nanos, Abacus, Ekos, Forum, and Innovative Research with a sample size of over 8,000 respondents.

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Vote-splitting not a concern for crowd at Mulcair’s Kitchener stop

Appeared on Aug. 25, 2015, on CTV News – Kitchener.

Thomas Mulcair became the first party leader to stop in Waterloo Region during the 2015 federal election campaign on Tuesday, when he helped open the office of Kitchener Centre candidate Susan Cadell.

“Do you want to help us replace the politics of fear and division with the politics of hope and optimism?” he asked the partisan crowd before launching into a speech about his party’s platform and key NDP issues like poverty among seniors and poor conditions on First Nations reserves.

Recent polls have suggested the possibility of an NDP minority government.

Projections released Monday night by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy show… read more.

NDP support grows nationally and locally

Appeared on Aug. 25, 2015, in the Sault Online.

If you put faith in opinion polls the riding of Sault Ste. Marie could turn from blue to orange according to the latest polls released August 25.

The NDP now has a strong lead over the governing Conservatives and almost double that of the Liberals so says  The Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (Lispop) poll that gives a projection as of August 25 with the NDP winning 134 seats compared to the 116 seats for the Conservatives. The Liberals remain unchanged at 86 seats.

Locally, the NDP continue to have support of the majority of the voters polled.

Read more…

NDP lead continues to hold across Canada, according to latest seat projections

Published Aug. 13, 2015, in the Global News Toronto

It’s been a little over a week since the start of Canada’s federal election campaign and the latest seat projections continue to show a tight race with the NDP, led by Tom Mulcair, holding a small lead over Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

“Public opinion isn’t always changing dramatically. Now we have had two months where things haven’t changed,” said Barry Kay, a politics professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. “It’s really a pick in between the NDP and the Conservatives in terms of seats.”

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NDP gains across Canada but loses seats in Ontario, Quebec, according to latest seat projections

Published July 23, 2015, in the Global News Toronto

Tom Mulcair and the NDP are still projected to win a small minority government during the October election, according to the latest seat projections.

The numbers, provided to Global News by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP), suggest the NDP would win 10 more seats (129 in all) than the Conservatives, ending Stephen Harper’s 10-year career as Prime Minister, if an election were held today.

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The following projection is drawn from a blended sample of polls conducted between July 3 and 16 among approximately 7500 respondents, produced a seat distribution almost identical to that of the previous month among a completely different set of interviews. The similar totals masked a number of regional differences that largely offset each other. The New Democratic Party performance improved from June in Atlantic Canada and the West, particularly in British Columbia, but it diminished somewhat in Ontario and Quebec.

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More coverage here.

Prime Minister Tom Mulcair? New seat projections, poll show NDP surging across Canada

Published June 26, 2015, in the Global News Toronto.

If an election were held today, Tom Mulcair would be Canada’s next Prime Minister.

The latest seat projections taken from an aggregate of opinion polls suggest Mulcair’s New Democratic Party could win 130 seats in the House of Commons – 11 more than Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and 44 more than Justin Trudeau and the once-powerful Liberal party.

“Two months ago one couldn’t have imagined this,” Barry Kay, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University said about the seat projections.

Read more.

LISPOP Observes the 2015 Alberta Election

Few provincial elections garner as much attention as the current campaign in Alberta, about to reach its conclusion when voters hit the polls tomorrow. Furthermore, Alberta elections tend to be a foregone conclusion, with the incumbent Progressive Conservatives assumed to return to power. This was true since 1971, and before then, the Social Credit solidly held on to power for a generation. If polls are to be believed, and there does appear to be a consensus, on Tuesday voters in Alberta are likely to make history. This is certainly an election night to watch, and one that we here at LISPOP have been observing.

Here are three contributions.

1) Most recently, Geoff Stevens compares Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s possible misjudgment in calling an early election to the similar fate that visited former Ontario premier David Peterson in 1990.

2) Simon Kiss challenges the long-held assumption that Alberta is Canada’s safe repository of right-wing ideology.

3) Christopher Alcantara commented on former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s ultimate political descent.


Government budgets no longer “news”

Published on Apr. 27, 2015, in the Waterloo Region Record

There was a time, within living memory, when budget secrecy was a big deal, a very big deal. A budget leak could cause a crisis for government and lead to the dismissal or resignation of the minister responsible.

In Britain in 1947, for example, the chancellor of the exchequer, Hugh Dalton, paused to say a few words to a journalist as he was walking into the Commons to deliver his budget speech. As it turned out, a procedural issue delayed the speech for a bit, and Dalton’s few words were on the newsstands before he had finished speaking. He had to resign.

In Canada, a budget leak has never brought down a federal finance minister, but it has come close a couple times – in 1983 when Marc Lalonde was Pierre Trudeau’s finance minister and in 1989 when Michael Wilson was finance minister in Brian Mulroney’s government. (Although the opposition howled, Lalonde and  Wilson kept their jobs; in the 1989 incident, the RCMP actually charged the reporter who broadcast the leak.)

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There’s no such thing as a budget leak anymore. What we have is a cynical system of selective disclosure and message control. Governments release details of tax or spending changes, often well in advance of budget day. The aim is twofold: to whet the appetite of the media to ensure maximum publicity when the budget finally comes down; and to give the government an opportunity to beat a retreat if public’s reaction is negative.

Was anyone in Ontario really surprised when Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government finally confirmed in its budget last week that it would sell off a chunk of Hydro One and allow the sale of beer in supermarkets? That “news” had been in the papers and beaten to death on talk shows for weeks.

And how about the federal budget that also came down last week – the one that seems destined to be known as “Stephen Harper’s granddaughter’s budget?” The Conservatives had wrung every drop of partisan advantage out of that dreary document long, long before Finance Minister Joe Oliver donned his New Balance running shoes and headed to the chamber.

Yes, there will be a minuscule surplus. Yes, it will be achieved by dipping into reserves. Yes, there will be income-splitting that will benefit more affluent families. Ditto, the doubling of the contribution limit for tax free savings accounts. Yes, there will be enhanced child care benefit cheques in Canadians’ mailboxes in July. All this was known far in advance, as were the facts that it would take some creative bookkeeping and time-lapse accounting to produce the balanced budget. (Not that this discouraged the Toronto Star from declaring on its front page the next day: “Tory budget paves streets with gold.” Oh, do tell.)

The only real “news” – in the traditional journalistic meaning of the word – came from Finance Minister Oliver who either strayed from the Tory party message or suffered an inadvertent fit of candor when he was asked by the CBC’s Amanda Lang whether the doubling of the TFSA limit would not saddle future governments with a revenue shortfall in the billions. To which Oliver replied: “I heard that by 2080 we may have a problem. Well, why don’t we leave that to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s granddaughter to solve that problem.”

When I heard that, I sort of expected a bolt of lightning from the Prime Minister’s Office to strike Oliver down. But it didn’t happen. He was exiled from Question Period for a couple of days while Harper did damage control, trying to explain that his government isn’t really trying to win re-election in 2015 by spending money it doesn’t have and by piling up debt to burden  future generations.

Expect to hear more about Stephen Harper’s hypothetical granddaughter as the election unfolds. The gaffe affords the opposition a small edge, a tiny opening, as they battle a Conservative government that has mastered the art or science of message control.