Redford addresses recent robocall surveys
After complaints from Albertans receiving so-called ‘push poll' robocalls – the leader of the Progressive Conservatives said the calls might become regular parts of political campaigns.
In a public appearance in Fort McMurray, PC Leader Alison Redford addressed questions about recent robotic calls made to Alberta residents.
Some of the telephone surveys feature a poll with answers that put the party's direct opposition, the Wildrose Party, in a negative light - officials from the Wildrose party called the questions ‘mean-spirited' and ‘vicious'.
Two of the answers given include: "Education is over-funded; I agree with Danielle Smith that parents should pay more for education extras like kindergarten and special needs aids," another possible response to a telephone survey question is: "I agree with Danielle Smith that people should be allowed to drink and drive right up to criminal impairment without consequence."
Redford said a similar rash of calls has circulated in the Fort McMurray area, where residents have been called to complete telephone surveys in the early morning hours, such as 5 or 5:30 am, and the calls have been attributed to the PC party.
The PC Party admits they are not behind the early morning calls to Fort McMurray residents.
"I know people are frustrated," Redford said. "5 am wakeup calls from someone identifying themselves as a PC, has been waking people up in Fort McMurray since the election was called."
The PC Leader said she's heard about the calls from concerned residents, and said, generally, the concept may become commonplace for elections – when used appropriately.
"I've certainly heard a lot of comment from voters that they're quite concerned about the tone of the calls, and they're concerned about the frequency of the calls," Redford said. "I think part of what we're going to see is that this is the nature of what's going to happen in elections now.
"It's unfortunate but I hope at least what we can do is make sure that people are using them appropriately to actually engage people on issues."
Although the Wildrose Party doesn't like the ‘push' poll calls, they told CTV News the party has been making robocalls.
"Automatic dialing is a way for us to be able to tell people about events," Smith said. "It's a way for us to do some polling; it's a way for us to be able to directly connect with constituents."
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman also weighed into the issue, saying his party uses the tool as well – but they wouldn't go as far as the PCs.
"There are two types of automated calling," Sherman said. "There's ‘push' polling to influence public opinion, the Liberals will not be doing that, and we will not be doing what the PCs are doing."
With files from Kevin Armstrong