Tuesday January 9, 2007
Another poll mystery
By BILL TIELEMAN
Leaders do not sway with the polls. Instead, they sway the polls through their own words and actions.
What people in Vancouver think about key political and city issues must be extremely important because someone is spending a lot of money to find out.
24 hours has uncovered yet another mystery poll asking questions about Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan and city council, how you would vote in a federal election, whether the safe drug injection site should be closed, new federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion, privatized health care and other issues.
Last month 24 hours reported on mystery polling conducted by Justason Market Intelligence that asked questions about Sullivan's performance and potential opponents. While Sullivan's Non-Partisan Association said it did not commission the poll, 24 hours has learned that key Sullivan supporters financed the research, which has yet to be released.
And now national polling firm Decima Research confirms that it conducted an Internet poll of Vancouver residents last month. Two readers contacted 24 hours to provide poll questions.
Cam Davis, Decima's Vancouver-based senior vice-president, said the online poll of about 700 people is an omnibus poll where different clients can put questions in for a fee but declined to name those clients.
"It's proprietory. If they want to release it, that's their business," Davis said. Decima posed some questions itself and will likely release results later in January, he added.
Many questions are clearly political. One asks: "Do you think Stephane Dion, the newly elected leader of the Liberal party will be more, the same or less sympathetic to the interests and needs of Vancouver than previous federal leaders?"
Sullivan is the topic for another question: "Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with the job that the Mayor of Vancouver is doing?"
Respondents are also asked about the controversial for-profit medical clinic recently opened by Dr. Mark Godley: "Do you think that the Urgent Care Clinic that recently opened in False Creek should be allowed to offer emergency services at additional fees?"
And one question ominously raises the possibility of TransLink rationing automobile access to Vancouver: "Would you support or oppose allowing cars with some licence plates into downtown on some days, and other cars other days?"
The online poll asks whether respondents would increase, maintain or decrease Vancouver tax funding for police, fire, library, parks and recreation, social and community and streets and traffic services.
But a city spokesperson says Vancouver is not sponsoring questions on the survey. Davis said Decima does similar polls in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa and will continue polling Vancouver residents this year.
Nice to know our opinions count - and are worth a lot of money.
BLOG EXTRA - All the polling questions:
Are you very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with the job that the Mayor of Vancouver is doing?
Are you very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with the job that the City Council of Vancouver is doing?
Are you very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with the job that Translink is doing?
Are you very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with the job being done by the police in the greater Vancouver area?
Vancouver and the surrounding area, please tell me if you feel things have been getting better, getting worse or not changing in the last while, in each of the following areas?
Prefer not to say
The overall quality of life
The level of racial tolerance
The services provided by local government
The cost of local government
The amount of traffic
Public safety from crime
Care for the disadvantaged
Thinking about the price of real estate in the greater Vancouver area over the next few years, is it more likely that: prices will rise sharply, will rise a little, will stabilize, will drop a little, or drop sharply?
And how about the neighborhood in which you live?
Do you feel local authorities are well prepared or poorly prepared to deal with the following types of emergency:
A major weather or other natural disaster?
A terrorist attack
Would you support or oppose each of the following measures?
Introducing tolls on roads, and use the money raised to reduce Translink fares
Allowing cars with some license plates into downtown on some days, and other cars other days
Introducing more high occupancy lanes to encourage car pooling
Increasing the number of bicycle lanes
Have you or someone in your household, experienced the following challenges in getting the health services you need?
Long wait for an appointment with a medical specialist
Long wait for a surgical procedure
Long wait for an MRI or similar test
Inability to find a GP taking patients
Do you think that the Urgent Care Clinic that recently opened in False Creek should be allowed to offer emergency services at additional fees?
Yes No Not aware of clinic No opinion Prefer not to say
Should Vancouver's Supervised Injection Site for drug addicts be closed?
Yes No Don't know No opinion Prefer not to say
What is the single most important issue you would like to see addressed to improve the overall quality of life in your area?
Transportation, traffic congestion
Improve public transit/lower transit fares
Prefer not to say
Do you feel that we should increase funding, maintain funding or decrease funding for each of the following?
Community and Social Services
Streets and Traffic Services
Parks and Recreational Services
Would you support an increase in your taxes in the next city budget to fund additional social housing?
Yes No Prefer not to say
Did you vote in the last municipal election?
Yes No Don't know Not applicable
If a federal election were being held tomorrow, do you think you would be voting for...
Wouldn't vote Don't know No answer
Do you think Stephane Dion, the newly elected leader of the Liberal party will be more, the same or less sympathetic to the interests and needs of Vancouver than previous Federal leaders?
Prefer not to say
Demographic questions on age, gender, education, employment status and income followed.