Frank Graves spoke as he should – honestly!

The latest EKOS poll results are out and surprise, surprise, the ReformCons are hovering around the 32% range…

Sigh. Watching the movement in the latest polls is becoming about as predictable as a Mike Weir Saturday melt-down…

But wait! There is something interesting coming out of EKOS! Franks Graves – President of EKOS research – is apologising for some remarks he made to G&M columnist Lawrence Martin on what advice he would have for the Grits in their ongoing (and hopelessly slow) attempt to overtake the Harperites.

In case you missed it, this is what he said:

In his advice, Mr. Graves could hardly have been more blunt. “I told them that they should invoke a culture war. Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy. If the cranky old men in Alberta don’t like it, too bad. Go south and vote for Palin.”

He apologized (though somewhat lamely) by saying :

[Ottawa – April 23, 2010] – In the course of an interview with the Globe and Mail columnist, Lawrence Martin, this week, I made some suggestions for a strategic course that presented itself to the federal Liberal Party.
My intention was to foment debate. However, I used incendiary language that had not been carefully enough considered. I recognize now that my stark language was understandably offensive to some Canadians.
In that light, I wish to retract my remarks and unreservedly apologize for making them.

True. In his position it is extremely important to appear unbiased – bias can cast aspersions about the neutrality and validity of the data that his firm collects. But general advice from a pollster is hardly new or rare. One often sees folks like Nick Nanos, Allan Gregg or Michael Adams on line or on TV or radio opining on what the Grits/CPC/NDP should do to better their fortunes. Lawrence Martin notes this as well.

No, it wasn’t the fact that advice was given, rather:

  1. The words used in Graves’ opinion were stark and honest.
  2. By being the CBC pollster, Mr. Graves has let himself vulnerable to screams of liberal media-bias.

On the first point, well, duh! Of course the best way to build support for the centre-leftward side of the spectrum is to further widen the nasty schism that exists between the right and the left in this country. And I agree with that. If the sole goal is to gain political ground then exposing the difference – be they cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy will do the trick. These are real differences between rural and urban and east and west and taking a stand on one side of the line is a way to cement what you stand for. The Harperites sure havn’t had a problem doing so and who cares if you alienate a few yahoos in tar sand land, right?

While I agree this is an approach that may be used to pump up the numbers, I am worried that the bitterness and anger that would result in such an active pursuit of a culture “war” would forever harm the unity of this country.

But that does seem to be the direction in which we are headed.

The other issue is that of perceived media bias. Here, I think the Cons are blowing out their air holes! Of COURSE there is bias! The Star is biased toward the Grits, the Post toward the Cons, CanWest is a Harperite trumpet.. etc. And as Simpson said:

The subject of media bias is a complex one in Canada because of the political culture. Normally a journalist is considered neutral or objective if he or she is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, reflecting neither the left- nor right-wing point of view.

But in Canada, the big mushy middle is the home of the Liberal Party, which has sought to locate itself in the mainstream and has profited over time from doing so. Therein lies the conundrum. If you’re a centrist, you can well be accused of having a Liberal bias.

In other words, it’s inescapable. You’re biased if you’re on the left, right or middle. In other words, everyone is biased; you, me, CBC, CTV; you, me and Mr. Graves and Stompin’ Tom Connors and the polar bears of Frobisher Bay.

So gimme a break Harperites and go back to your power breakfasts…

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Now for a community moment…

A colleague of mine who is an avid cyclist, asked me to pass along the following request. While I am not a cyclist, it pains me to think that Ottawa dentists might be profiting because of poorly maintained bike paths!

Hi folks, Can folks send a quick note to the NCC requesting they begin work rehabilitating the bicycle path between Andrew Hayden Park and Britannia Beach? This section of path is so bad it will knock your fillings loose! Maybe then the time frame for fixing the path will be less than “several years” as I was told. Email address: info@ncc-ccn.ca. Pass this on to others who you think would like to help out! Thanks!

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