In case you were busy this week counting your wives or playing “Where’s Adrienne” (hint: don’t look in Alberta), I’d like to draw your attention to a story in last Sunday’s Citizen saying the federal government spent a cool $25.4 million on opinion polls last year. I think they’re up to something.
Cynics may respond, “Of course they are. They’re up to preparing for an election.” I wouldn’t put it past this (or any) incumbent government to spend public money polishing its own political fortunes. But I fear the cynics are taking, as so often, far too optimistic a view. I think misguided idealism is on the rampage again.
Please note first that last year’s spending, the second-highest ever after 2001’s $26.2 million, is no blip: It’s the fifth straight year the federal opinion-research tab has exceeded $20 million. And while government can blow hundreds of millions of dollars without breaking a sweat, it’s still a lot of polling (593 polls in the past fiscal year alone, or more than two every working day, although to be fair, like other members of the 1-800 crowd, they sometimes call on weekends, too). It’s far more, on far more issues, than can be explained by the seediest of electoral concerns. And besides, this may be a pre-election year, but 2001 wasn’t. Why on earth is the government gauging our moods so obsessively? Continue reading
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