Who's Polling ABC?

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Conservative Party worker says Premier is gauging support

There is a new poll being conducted right now, measuring support for Premier Danny Williams's ABC campaign.

That's according to Steve Outhouse, the director of communications with DFO, who is now on leave, handling PR for Conservative candidates in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Outhouse said that one of his party's campaign workers received a phone call at home from a polling firm, asking questions about ABC. Just four questions were asked, he said. They were:

1. Are you likely to vote in the upcoming federal election?

2. Do you know about the ABC campaign?

3. Do you think Premier Williams should take the ABC campaign across Canada?

4. How are you likely to vote? (Followed by the list of party choices.)

Outhouse said the polling firm did not divulge who they are working for, but said it is self-evident that the poll was commissioned by the premier's office.

"It would appear they are gauging support as to whether or not the premier should criss-cross the country, as he said several times he would do," Outhouse said in an interview. "He must either be reconsidering that, or looking for people to give him the green light to do it."

Outhouse said this raises an interesting question regarding election expenditures.

"As you know, Elections Canada has rules and I don't know them inside and out that limit and require people to report what third parties are spending on a campaign. If ABC is moving past a philosophy or slogan and into an actual campaign, where money is being spent and polling is being done, with the specific intent to defeat a political party, just like a union or special interest group, all that information would need to be registered with Elections Canada."

Last week, the premier indicated that about one per cent of his government's time would be invested in the ABC campaign.

"When you start to associate a dollar figure with that, especially if you start to move across the country, it's going to be some significant expenditures," Outhouse said, adding that the premier, being a lawyer, has likely considered this point.

"It raises a question too about whether or not this polling is being done through public funds, or through private money. Even so, it still needs to be reported as political expenditures," he said.

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