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Sunday, June 21, 2009

PC Leadership Race: The push poll accusation

Controversy in the PC leadership race around a mysterious push poll attacking Tim Hudak. Stephen Taylor of BloggingTories summarizes the situation here. (A push poll is when someone conducts a survey with negatively worded questions about a candidate. eg. When do think X stopped beating his wife?)

To summarize Mr. Taylor's summary; the Hudak Campaign accused the Klees Campaign of commissioning the push poll. They went to the rules committee of the PC Party and complained about this tactic, claiming that Mr. Klees violated the rules.

The PC Party responded that Mr. Hudak's claim was "without merit." It is still uncertain who it was that commissioned this attack, but it appears that Frank Klees has been cleared of any involvement.

At the end of Stephen Taylor's blog post that is linked above, you will notice a question:

Yet, if this complaint is without merit as the party stated, the Hudak campaign may have broken their own 11th commandment by unloading this scandal entirely on the Klees campaign so close to the leadership vote. Has the Hudak campaign done their homework or is the party right to dismiss their claims?

Considering the mildness of this push poll (no one accused Tim Hudak of having illegitimate children) it might have been wiser to ignore it. Especially when the Hudak Campaign has been pushing this 11th commandment idea of not attacking other PC leadership candidates. To accuse his opponent without clear evidence (there is highly suggestive but not conclusive evidence) does nothing but muddy the name of Frank Klees.

The questions (taken from Stephen Taylor's blog):

  1. What is the main issue that you will vote on in this leadership race?
  2. Who will be your first choice for party leader?
  3. Who will be your second choice?
  4. Tim Hudak said he was the frontrunner, promising an easy win in the shortest leadership race ever, but his campaign has faltered. Why do you think this happened?
  5. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign has faltered because he promised to sell the most memberships, but came in third place?
  6. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign faltered because of his adoption of a divisive policy on Human Rights Commissions?
  7. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign has faltered because it is relying on the support of Mike Harris, who may be liked by party members but who will hurt our party in the general election?
  8. Keeping in mind the Hudak campaign’s poor performance, are you now more or less likely to change your second ballot support?

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 21, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


I'm a card carrying member and just voted for Tim, I put a 1 beside his name and left the rest blank. To me, there is only one choice, Tim Hudak.

Posted by: Mark-Alan Whittle | 2009-06-21 10:01:12 AM

This is typical of polls which is why I never respond to them. They are tailored to get a certain response and draw certrain conclusion no matter how you answer them.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-06-21 12:05:10 PM

I think Frank Klees is going to win. While the elitist PC party apparatus and the media have not reported it, Campaign Life coalition and Real Women of Canada have endorsed Klees. At the march for life, attended by 12,000 pro lifers, Klees campaign was present signing up party members. Klees is not far right or ultra religious but he has at least acknowledged that about 60% of Ontario voters support some restrictions on abortion and that pro lifers should not be ignored. I saw many young christian families showing up to vote for Klees today.

Posted by: Jo | 2009-06-21 7:51:48 PM


I had the opportunity to read your posting. We thought it would be important that Western Standard readers understand a few facts regarding these calls, which has also been posted on Stephen Taylor's blog.

First, the Klees Campaign admitted to the Party during the hearing that it authorized the offending script, which we maintain is a push poll.

Second, the Klees Campaign also admitted to the Party that it retained Logit Group to do a blind poll, so that the true source of the calls would be concealed from Party members.

Third, the Klees Campaign admitted to the Party that Logit Group made hundreds of these calls to Tim Hudak supporters across the province.

The Klees Campaign defended these calls as "research", although push polls appear to violate CRTC telemarketing guidelines and contravene legitimate market research standards.

Given that the Klees Campaign admitted to making these calls, we are obviously disappointed that the Party chose not to punish the Klees Campaign for conducting this negative push poll.

But we are pleased that, because of our investigation, Party members who complained about this inappropriate push poll can cast their vote knowing that the Klees Campaign was responsible for it.

We also thank the Party for issuing a new guideline requiring all calling firms to reveal which campaign retained them when calling the Party membership. This increased level of transparency is important to Party members. It will also prevent the Klees Campaign from conducting other divisive push polls for the rest of this leadership race.

Our campaign recognizes that unifying and rebuilding our great Party will be a key task for our new Leader. This principle has governed our campaign throughout this leadership race, and will continue to do so as we enter this important final week.

I appreciate the opportunity to share this additional information with readers so they can come to their own conclusions.

Blair McCreadie
Co-Chair, Tim Hudak Leadership Campaign

Posted by: Blair McCreadie | 2009-06-22 8:48:29 AM

Let's start from the beginning, as someone who received one of these despicable calls, I'm pissed off that a push-poll was used in this leadership race.

Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment is about not going on the offensive against other conservatives. As Tim Hudak has repeatedly said, "You cannot build our party up by tearing down other conservatives." However, everyone would concede, especially Ronald Reagan, that you have a right to defend yourself if attacked by a push-poll.

The Frank Klees Campaign does not deny conducting the push-poll. Their attitude has basically been, "Well, yeah, what are you going to do about it? All's fair in love and war." Despite the fact that push-polls are illegal in some jurisdictions, the idea that a candidate running for leadership of the party would use one raises serious concerns.

I agree with many other progressive conservatives who believe that Frank Klees's push-poll against Tim Hudak and the subsequent nonchalance and the ridiculous assertion that Tim Hudak's defence violates the 11th Commandment all amounts to one thing: blaming the victim.

Posted by: James | 2009-06-22 9:22:55 AM

Hudak's campaign acted reasonably here. Thanks Blair for your explanation.

This whole incident only confirms I made the right choice by voting for the H candidates yesterday. K and E, precisely because of their stands on HRCs, were left off my ballot.

Posted by: Steve | 2009-06-22 10:27:43 AM

Thank you for the clearification Mr. Mcreadie. Obviously if the Klees campaign is admitting to this poll Mr. Klees' name is not being muddied. (I will update the post as soon as I finish this comment)

I still don't think that this attack is overly vicious. It reminds people that Mr. Hudak has the support of Mike Harris. Even if this is cast in a negative way it is still considered a postive by most members.

James: "Despite the fact that push-polls are illegal in some jurisdictions"

That is a horrible point that weakens your entire comment. Woman's face being uncovered in some jurisdiction is illegal. That doesn't mean that it is wrong for my sister to do so here.

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2009-06-22 10:28:20 AM

I find it disappointing that the Party found this complaint to be without merit, it’s pretty clear to me that the poll in question here has two of the qualities of a push-poll: 1) that it was conducted anonymously (through a 3rd party which did not identify its affiliation) and 2) that its questions were in attempt to smear candidate Tim Hudak (at least as reported by Stephen Taylor).

Though I can understand the Party’s rationale in trying to keep their distance not to appear to be siding with the Tim Hudak campaign, I think that the Party’s decision to formally request that future polls clearly identify which campaign they represent demonstrates that there was something legitimate about this complaint. You don’t prescribe a remedy when nothing is ailing, I’m sure you all agree.

It appears that the Party did not want to pursue these allegations, probably due to how close we now are to the conclusion of this leadership contest. But had they considered otherwise, I am sure would have shown the Hudak camp was in the right, considering that the Klees campaign admitted to the Party that they were behind those calls.

As for those who argue that this complaint is evidence that the Hudak campaign broke the “11th commandment” I think this is further political opportunism coming from the Klees campaign. Defending yourself from a push-poll which specifically targets your supporters in an attempt to make you look bad is far from speaking ill of fellow members to make political gains. On the other hand, it is clear that the Klees campaign has no interest in following that philosophy.

Posted by: Nathalie | 2009-06-22 11:04:57 AM

To clarify my ponderings on if Hudak was guilty of breaking the '11th commandment' was based on incomplete information. The fact that the Klees campaign did not deny connection to the poll changes things.

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2009-06-22 11:20:09 AM

Elliott is a red tory and Hudak trips over his own tongue! They are the same type of buffoons that have blown two elections. The only real choice is between pro-family and life candidate Frank Klees and conservative Randy Hillier. The rest are just buffoons and John Tory clones!

Posted by: Arnold | 2009-06-22 2:38:58 PM

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