Nfld. & Labrador

PCs 'bought and paid for' poll, Aylward says

The Liberals on Monday attacked a poll that put them in third place heading into the final week of the election campaign.
Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward at his official campaign kickoff on Sept. 19. Standing behind him is the Liberal candidate for St. John's West, George Joyce.

The Liberals on Monday attacked the validity of a new poll that put them in third place heading into the final week of the Newfoundland and Labrador election campaign.

A poll released Friday by St. John's-based MQO Research was "bought and paid for by the Tories," Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward said in a news release.

"It is completely irresponsible for a company that works for, and donates heavily to, the Tory Government to produce a poll that is based on regional bias, a focus group that has been resurveyed with data gathered online. This is not a scientific poll," said Aylward.

The MQO Research poll found the Liberals had support of 13 per cent of decided voters, while the governing Tories stood at 54 per cent and the NDP had 33 per cent.

MQO Research is affiliated with St. John's-based marketing company M5.

The Liberals said the company contributed $30,000 to the Progressive Conservative party while not donating any money to either of the other two parties.

'Brazen attempt'

Aylward also said M5 is under contract to Nalcor, the Crown-owned energy corporation, for its work on Muskrat Falls, and to other government agencies. Given those links, Aylward is accusing the PCs of buying the survey.

"In my 20 years of public service, I have not seen such a brazen attempt to influence the voter," said Aylward.

"Ms. Dunderdale bought this survey just like she is trying to buy the people of Newfoundland and Labrador with their own money. I am putting her on notice that this is irresponsible and unacceptable."

In a statement Monday, MQO Research roundly dismissed Aylward's allegations.

"It's unfortunate that the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador has taken the position that it has," said MQO president Carolyn O'Keefe, who emphasized the company's industry accreditations.

"MQO Research speaks with great confidence in the results of its recent polls," she said. "Let me assure the people of the province that MQO Research has carried out this polling independently. The research has not been paid for by any other organization."

'This one really tops it'

Meanwhile, Dunderdale was incredulous when informed of Aylward's statement.

"I've heard some ridiculous things from Mr. Aylward and the Liberals, but I think this one really tops it," Dunderdale told reporters.

"I didn't ask for the poll, I didn't know the poll was being done, the result of the poll is there. I've commented on it only because people have asked me," she said. "It is what it is."

Dunderdale added that Aylward's concerns should be taken up with the company.

Included with the Liberal news release was an attachment titled, Evaluating the Polls: an Open Letter to Ontario's Journalists by Darrell Bricker and John Wright of Ipsos Reid.

The letter said that all polls are not created equally and that there is "a disturbing trend of late in which questionable polls find their way into an outlet’s coverage because they appear to match an editorial line."