By Jennifer Vardy Little
NDP workers will be calling 49 voters in Kings North over the weekend to correct misinformation given by a polling firm the NDP employed.
For seven days right after the election was called Sept. 7, Toronto-based Forum Research was calling homes in various ridings around the province to gauge support for candidates. Kings North has joined the list of two other ridings where the firm used the incorrect names of candidates.
In this case, instead of using John Lohr’s name as the PC candidate, the pollsters told area residents that Kim MacQuarrie was running for the Tories. MacQuarrie, a county councillor, brought the issue to light in a question she put in the box at the Kings North candidates’ forum held by the Advertiser/Register and the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“I was really confused,” MacQuarrie said. Although she did not receive a call herself, when she attended a community supper Sept. 14, a number of her constituents approached her and asked her if she’d stepped down from the county in order to run provincially.
“Whether it was an honest mistake or a misdirected marketing, it’s really a disservice to the people I represent. People aren’t sure what’s going on.”
MacQuarrie said she took an oath to be non-partisan, so this was a “disappointment” to her.
“I am not, nor have I ever been, a candidate for the PC party. I’ve never put papers in. I’ve had nothing to do with being a candidate for the PC party,” she said. “If it’s an honest mistake, they should come out and explain in the news what happened.”
Jill Marzetti, campaign director for the NDP, confirmed Sept. 20 that Kings North, like Timberlea-Prospect and Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River, had been involved in polling that used the wrong candidate’s name.
“We keep a running brief of candidate’s names – we collect them as they’re posted on party websites or when they’re posted after they’re registered. In areas where there aren’t candidates, we ballpark who we heard might be seeking the nomination,” Marzetti said.
In this case, they believed MacQuarrie might seek the nomination.
The NDP, she added, will correct the erroneous information by calling the 49 individuals polled in Kings North to “apologize and give them the correct list of candidates.”
Kings North PC candidate John Lohr said he's very disappointed and shocked that someone would attempt to mislead the voting public through something like inaccurate information in a phone poll.
"I think it's dirty politics. It's trying to mislead the public. They've known since June 6 who the candidate is," Lohr said.
He said it was a big surprise to him as a new candidate how much effort is put into gauging how people will vote. Lohr said the phone poll could have been targeted at particular individuals to try to swing their vote.
Kings North Liberal candidate Stephen Pearl said he is sad and disappointed to hear about the misinformation being spread in the phone poll. He said it's unfortunate that this has happened.
"People don't want negative politics," he said. "They want fair, open representation."
NDP incumbent Jim Morton said he was unaware that MacQuarrie’s name had been used in the poll until he was contacted by the Advertiser.
“I’m disappointed a poll used the inappropriate name,” he said “People need the opportunity to make a choice and they need clear information to do that.”