Source: CBC News
The following letter has been sent to Mr. John Walsh, president of the Conservative Party of Canada, in response to his letter of April 22 to CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin. It raised several questions about our relationship with Ekos Research and the Liberal Party of Canada. As is normal practice, the Ombudsman refers letters to the appropriate part of CBC for a response; in this case, CBC News. Mr. Walsh suggested our relationship with Mr. Graves, who made and then retracted various statements to journalists of other news organizations about "cultural warfare," is improper.
Mr. John Walsh
Conservative Party of Canada
#1204-130 Albert Street
Dear Mr. Walsh:
I am writing in response to your letter of April 22, 2010 to CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin, which, as he indicated, has been referred to me.
As General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, I am very happy to address the issues you have raised in the four questions you have posed.
First, you have asked why one of our contracted polling firms is “also giving partisan advice to the Liberal Party of Canada.”
It is our understanding that Frank Graves, president of Ekos Research, has addressed this matter publicly, stating that he has no client relationship with the Liberal Party and that his remarks (which he has since indicated were inappropriate) represented hypothetical advice offered in conversations with Globe columnist Lawrence Martin (published April 21, 2010) and The Hill Times reporter Harris Macleod (published Mar. 1, 2010).
However, to the extent that your party or other Canadians may feel this constitutes evidence of bias or impropriety on the part of CBC News, I would like to clarify our relationship with Ekos and Mr. Graves in particular.
Ekos is one of four national polling firms which provide data to CBC News. According to our policies on poll reporting, the data we receive are reviewed and evaluated by our own research department to ensure the methodology is sound and by our senior editorial leaders to ensure accuracy, fairness and balance, consistent with our published journalistic standards and practices (which are available for your review here.)
To meet our qualification and selection process (through a formal RFP), all of our polling firms were required to make a specific declaration that they were not affiliated with any political party, as this would have disqualified them. We have reviewed this important point with Mr. Graves and confirmed that no client relationship with the Liberal Party of Canada exists. While we assume that individuals do cast ballots in elections, we do not require firms or individuals to report on their voting history or donations to political organizations.
To the extent that Mr. Graves, like our other pollsters, is invited to offer his interpretation of data and its political context on CBC News programs like Power and Politics, we believe that his commentary-on our programs and subject to our editorial policies-is within the bounds of normal political analysis and discourse. We would require it to remain so. Frank Graves is not paid for appearing on Power and Politics.
At the same time, we would point out that our pollsters serve a different role from our political commentators (such as Kory Teneycke, former spokesperson for Prime Minister Harper, Liberal Party advisor Scott Reid, former NDP press secretary Ian Capstick and others), who are invited to offer analyses from their own particular and often explicitly partisan perspectives. We believe it is important to encourage a wide ranging discourse on the issues of the day. But as with all our content, it too is guided by our journalistic policy and guidelines.
I can assure you that CBC News is and will remain politically neutral and scrupulously fair as it provides Canadians with a lively and current platform for the broad range of political opinion and perspective in this country. As I hope you will appreciate, this is one of our key brand attributes and one we work hard every day to exemplify.
On this basis, I believe I can quickly address your other three questions:
* We are not sharing resources with the Liberal Party of Canada.
* We do not share our polling data with any political or other parties before they are presented publicly as news, after which time they are available to everyone.
* We do not “share Mr. Graves’ call for a ‘culture war’ that pits Canadian against Canadian.” We will however, like other news organizations, continue to report on the sometimes heated debate on this and other topics that occur throughout Canada’s political landscape.
Finally, to your point that this is the second time in three years that the Conservative Party of Canada has raised questions of partiality with the Ombudsman, I would note that the Ombudsman’s conclusion in 2008 after a thorough review was that while a CBC journalist acted "unwisely," "there was absolutely no evidence of any partisan interest…" and "there was no bias at play, no matter how perceived by partisan interests." For your review, Mr Carlin’s full response is available here.
I hope this adequately addresses your concerns.
It is also my responsibility to inform you that if you are not satisfied with this response, you may wish to submit the matter for review by the CBC Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman, an independent and impartial body reporting directly to the President, is responsible for evaluating program compliance with the CBC’s journalistic policies. The Ombudsman may be reached by mail at the address shown below, or by fax at 416 205 2825 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours very truly,
General Manager and Editor in Chief
Box 500, Station A
cc. Vince Carlin, CBC Ombudsman
© CBC News
Apr 26, 2010 — Conservative Party of Canada: CBC-Liberal "Culture War"? by Doug Finley
Campaign Director says pollster's affiliation with both the Liberal Party and the CBC shows Conservatives "are up against a powerful array of vested interests".