Questions about Frank Graves

There’s a bit of chatter about today’s Ekos poll, but a lot of it has been about its pollster Frank Graves. As with anything in politics, there’s a problem when the messenger becomes the story rather than the message they are delivering.

A few press gallery flacks were all a-twitter at a new meme they perceived to be emerging from the Liberal benches during Question Period: “The Conservative Culture of Deceit”. Obviously more of a play on Stephen Harper’s “Culture of Defeat” remark about Atlantic Canada than the Justice Gomery’s remarks of a Liberal “Culture of Entitlement”.

The “Culture of Defeat” written for Harper in 2001 posed problems for the Conservative brand in Atlantic Canada and what made it particularly damaging was a bit of history on uncouth remarks about the region by another member of one of the Conservative’s legacy parties, the Canadian Alliance.

Back in 2000, Alliance pollster John Mykytyshyn went adrift in some turbulent seas when he remarked “[Atlantic Canadians] don’t want to do like our ancestors did and work for a living and go where the jobs are. Probably, the Alliance won’t go over as well there.”

Indeed, after these comments, the Alliance did not “go over” well in Atlantic Canada and it has taken years to climb back from these words.

Mykytyshyn told me, “as an unpaid volunteer, I was subjected to 13 days of media coverage on this based on an offhand comment that I apologized for, and the CBC did a 10 minute special on the incident.”

Fast forward to today, where we learn that the CBC’s EKOS pollster is also advising the Liberal Party of Canada giving the party strategic direction on the sentiment of the electorate.

Among Graves’ advice?

“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.”

Start a culture war? I remember years and years of Liberal criticism about Conservatives dividing Canadians, “pitting region against region”. The Liberal Party branded itself as the party that “unites” Canadians rather than divides. The only thing the Liberal Party is not known to divide these days are leadership debts and the cheque at Carmello’s — someone else will pick it up.

But the CBC’s attachment to Graves is particularly conflicted since it erupted when Mykytyshyn made those unfortunate and divisive remarks, driving it home to every east-coaster watching or listening to Canada’s state-funded broadcaster. And now? Our tax dollars pad Graves’ bottom line as he advises the Liberals on how to “stop worrying about the West” as Lawrence Martin reports him saying. Further, the CBC is using him to provide objective, research-driven advice on party politics yet he is giving advice to one party.

Division does work in politics. But when the Conservatives own the right side of the entitled vs. ordinary split what’s left? Demonization of entire constituencies, provinces and regions of people is the politics of desperation. It always fails.

UPDATE: Kory Teneycke unloads on Graves on CBC’s Power & Politics. Teneycke pointed out Graves’ donation record to the Liberal Party. The Sun points out donations totaling $11,042.72 to the Liberal Party including the leadership campaigns of Ignatieff and Rae with just $449.04 going to a Tory candidate in Ottawa-Vanier.

I emailed Richard Stursberg, the executive VP of CBC/Radio Canada about this:

Here is the CBC’s reply,

And my reply to Jeff,

and the subsequent reply,

The Sun story includes comment from Paul Adams, executive director of EKOS:

“EKOS has never polled for any political party or been retained as a client by any political party,” he said in an e-mail Thursday night.

“Mr. Graves did give an interview to Lawrence Martin, the Globe columnist, in which he offered the Liberals hypothetical advice, just as he might to any other political party in the course of an interview.

“To the extent that the Globe article may have implied that Mr. Graves had previously proffered this advice directly to the Liberal Party, it was a mistaken implication.”

From EKOS’ website, we learn about Paul Adams:

Prior to joining EKOS, Mr. Adams had a distinguished career as a journalist. He covered mainly political stories as a correspondent for CBC television’s The National and later as Parliamentary Bureau Chief for CBC Radio. In 1999, he joined the Globe and Mail as senior parliamentary correspondent and later served as the newspaper’s Middle East correspondent.

Small world.

UPDATE 4/23: Graves has apologizes for his remarks and wants to set the record straight:

Comments

comments

  • Gayle

    Paul – I am pretty sure we have had this discussion before, so I am going to ask you to please list all bills that were stuck in the senate and were killed for reasons other than Harper proroguing and killing them himself.

    Next, please do a comparison between the bills killed in the senate with this government, and the bills killed with the previous government.

    Next, do an analysis of the average amount of time a bill spends in the senate before passage and compare that to the amount of time bills spent in the senate with this government.

    THEN make your case for how the senate has stymied Harper's government.

    In any event, apparently you missed my point. As a senator, Mr. Finley has the power to vote agains this bill, despite the fact it was passed by a majority in the House. What do you think he is going to do???

    As for your economic nonsense, please see Kevin Page.

    Thanks

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Stephen Taylor posts about Frank Graves and what does the apologists for the Liberals do?

    look away…. rofl

    Such a sad pathetic display of changing channels. Lib blogs must be like the Liberal Party…dying from a lack of oxygen, fresh ideas.

  • batb

    Chretien and Martin's “solid fiscal management and foresight”?

    Slush … er, I mean, trust funds set up that cannot be audited, money taken from EI funds, transfer payments to the provinces cut off, to make up “surpluses,” taxpayer dollars given to Liberal supporters which were channeled back to the LPC via brown paper bags left in Italian restaurants, aka AdScam, etc., etc.

    I don't call that solid fiscal management or foresight, and I'd like the $40,000,000 stolen from the Canadian taxpayers in AdScam to be returned. Chretien and Martin may have highly regulated the banks, but look at all of the other profligate and downright dishonest transactions carried out by the LPC in order to stay in power.

    Sorry, Gayle. No cigar. No amount of rose petals strewn along the path can cover up the stench of “the culture of corruption” in the Liberal Party of Canada. Don't take my word for it. Ask Judge Gomery.

    The other thing, Gayle: Bad smells don't go away unless there's a clean-up. So far, the Liberal$ haven't been intent on cleaning things up. Their only interest seems to be in manufacturing la scandale de la semaine which compounds the stink.

  • Mary T

    And it would really help the liberal reputation if all those leadership guys/gals paid off their loans. Maybe election canada needs to pass a law, if you have unpaid leadership debts you can't run as a candidate for one election cycle, after the loan is paid off. Or else, make it impossible to get a loan for a leadership run that has no chance of winning.

  • batb

    Right on, Mary T!

    A party that can't manage their own financial affairs, can't manage the country's. That's elementary, and you'd think the Liberal$ and Elections Canada would get it. On the other hand, if you feel entitled to govern, I guess you can also feel entitled to run your affairs any way you want, whether or not they're in tatters.

  • LindaL

    “So, about that whole “the recession will not affect Canada” thing…”

    Just for the record, Harper did not deny the possibility of a recession — in fact, I heard him suggest the possibility in a year-end interview months before the melt-down. What he did do was attempt to be reassuring during the election campaign. My impression was that the other party leaders were going on like chickens with their heads cut off, when in fact– at that point — nothing in particular had happened in Canada. It's called leadership, as this quote reminds us: “If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs . . . etc. . . . etc. Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it.”

    It is also worth noting that the Libs only started to pay serious attention to financial matters when Preston Manning reminded them that it is folly to spend beyond your means. Initiailly he was laughed at.

  • Gayle

    “What he did do was attempt to be reassuring during the election campaign.”

    Right. It had nothing at all to do with the fact he did not want to admit he fabricated a reason to call an election in contradiction to his fixed election dates promise just so he could make sure the election was held before the recession.

    But that was an interesting little spin you have there.

    “It is also worth noting that the Libs only started to pay serious attention to financial matters when Preston Manning reminded them that it is folly to spend beyond your means.”

    ha ha ha

    That was pretty funny. Are you also going to claim Manning invented the concept of increasing your income and reducing your expenses as a means to pay down debt?

  • east of eden

    Gayle, that “prove my point” is tired, worn-out, ineffective and completely irrelevant to the comment. You are nothing if not consistent. Not once did you take exception to CBC showing it's leaning and not once did you take exception to what Graves is suggesting. If it had been a Conservative, you'd be indignant and in uber high dudgeon.

  • east of eden

    The Harper government had nothing to do with our recovery? Please, Gayle, try to stick to reality. Let me see – Ignatieff DEMANDED that PM Harper spend money to stimuate the economy or he'd bring down the government (I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll…capitulate, just as did Dion) and then turned around and slammed PM Harper for allegedly bringing up our deficit. Now, the deficit can be manufactured and spun any which way you like – just as the Libs presented fraudulent and false surpluses (but that's a whole other ball of Liberal deception to be discussed at another time). The Libs also accuse the government of not spending the stimulus money so…how can we not spend money and still have a deficit. Frankly, I'm way more concerned with debt – which the Harper government is paying down – than I am with a cooked and spun deficit number which cannot possibly exist if the government is not spending. So, let's not try to credit the previous corrupt and deceptive Lib government as being the real reason we have recovered. It is all down to PM Harper's government and its sound fiscal policies.

  • Gayle

    Well, if nothing else you have just demonstrated your lack of knowledge about our economy. Our highly regulated banking system is why we were not as seriously affected as other countries.

    Here's a question – when you consider your own financial situation, do you just spend all your money when you make it, or do you put some away for a rainy day?

    We had a surplus, which would have helped us during the recession. and we had a revenue stream that would have alleviated a good portion of the deficit. Harper destroyed both.

  • east of eden

    Gayle, that “prove my point” is tired, worn-out, ineffective and completely irrelevant to the comment. You are nothing if not consistent. Not once did you take exception to CBC showing it's leaning and not once did you take exception to what Graves is suggesting. If it had been a Conservative, you'd be indignant and in uber high dudgeon.

  • east of eden

    The Harper government had nothing to do with our recovery? Please, Gayle, try to stick to reality. Let me see – Ignatieff DEMANDED that PM Harper spend money to stimuate the economy or he'd bring down the government (I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll…capitulate, just as did Dion) and then turned around and slammed PM Harper for allegedly bringing up our deficit. Now, the deficit can be manufactured and spun any which way you like – just as the Libs presented fraudulent and false surpluses (but that's a whole other ball of Liberal deception to be discussed at another time). The Libs also accuse the government of not spending the stimulus money so…how can we not spend money and still have a deficit. Frankly, I'm way more concerned with debt – which the Harper government is paying down – than I am with a cooked and spun deficit number which cannot possibly exist if the government is not spending. So, let's not try to credit the previous corrupt and deceptive Lib government as being the real reason we have recovered. It is all down to PM Harper's government and its sound fiscal policies.

  • Gayle

    Well, if nothing else you have just demonstrated your lack of knowledge about our economy. Our highly regulated banking system is why we were not as seriously affected as other countries.

    Here's a question – when you consider your own financial situation, do you just spend all your money when you make it, or do you put some away for a rainy day?

    We had a surplus, which would have helped us during the recession. and we had a revenue stream that would have alleviated a good portion of the deficit. Harper destroyed both.