19 August 2009

Poll goosing: Can you say fire truck?

There are two bits of humour in the same post.

The first is this video of a child having some interesting trouble saying the words fire and truck together. 

It’s a wee bit predictable but still funny and cute.

Also predictable, funny and cute is the fact that the provincial government likes to announce and deliver fire trucks in a particular season of the year that just coincidentally is also the time the official provincial government pollster is on the go collecting his latest data for a government-sponsored poll.

Since 2007, the provincial government has consistently started announcing fire trucks with the bulk of the announcements coming just before and during Government Polling period.

July 11, 2007:  $108,000 dropped on the association representing firefighters.  Don’t forget that was also part of the pre-election Summer of Love spending frenzy.

August 9, 2007:  Government pollster Corporate Research Associates starts collecting data.

August 16, 2007:  A new fire truck for Conception Bay South,  “presented” by municipal affairs minister Jack Byrne with incumbents/candidates Terry French and Beth Marshall in tow.

August 16, 2007:  A news release listing off $1.7 million in emergency services spending, including a list of nine new fire trucks and other emergency vehicles for communities across the province.

August 17, 2007:  As if the announcement of the presentation on the 16th wasn’t enough, there’s a second news release on the fire truck in CBS. It includes three photos of people posing with the fire truck.

August 31, 2007:  CRA stops polling.

Other than one lone fire truck presentation in October, there’s no other fire truck activity in 2007.  By the way, that one in October was the presentation of a truck included in the August 16 release and it was presented in a town in the minister’s district.  He didn’t “present” any other trucks, at least with a news release going with it.

Skip ahead one year and you will find the next Fire Truck Season that – just by coincidence  - matches up to Government Polling Season.

July 15, 2008:  $130,000 in government cash for the firefighters association.

July 25, 2008:  New fire trucks for Badger and Whitbourne.

August 5, 2008:  New fire truck for St. Anthony

August 7, 2008:  New fire truck for Irishtown-Summerside.

Government pollster CRA polled from August 12 to 30, 2008.

There were three more vehicle presentations extending into October last year. Of course by the time the last one was done, the government pollster was getting ready to go back to the field in November for the last poll goosing foray of the year in November.  Lo and behold there was even the announcement of a new fire hall in that month, as well. 

Fire and polls really do go together.

The pattern has continued in 2009.

An announcement in January – covering a raft of new fire trucks -  in advance of the February poll goosing season and with plenty of time for the weekly newspapers to cover the stories.  Even more funding for the firefighters association in July 2009 and of course the August announcement. CRA’s been in the field since last week.

Now some of you might protest that these announcements don’t match up with polling time.

But if you think that you might be forgetting what no less an authority than the Premier himself said about the whole idea of poll-stacking when he was asked about it last year.   If he was going to poll goose, he’d be out there a week or two before polling started.

Oh, he knew exactly when CRA started polling, by the way.  Not exactly the sort of information you’d expect a busy Premier to have at his finger-tips.

Well, not unless he needed to be aware of it for some reason.