Speaker’s staffer no longer on poll-padding list

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Ross Wiseman

A member of Ross Wiseman’s staff has been receiving the BlackBerry messages pressing Tory MHAs, staff and supporters to stack online media polls.

But Caroline Frost, Wiseman’s constituency assistant, is not supposed to get PINs with subjects like “Important CBC poll,” and messages that say, “We need everyone to vote on this, it’s very important.”

Wiseman, Speaker of the House of Assembly, and his staff have a mandate to be impartial and not to engage in party activities.

Interviewed about it Monday, Wiseman said it was an oversight.

“She should have been deleted from (the mailing list) when mine was deleted,” he said.

The Weekend Telegram’s front-page story Feb. 16 focused on a series of PINs that proved the Dunderdale government tries to pad unscientific media polls and radio phone in-shows. The messages were from Tory MHAs to their caucus colleagues, political staff and supporters.

Wiseman said he was taken off the message list when he was named Speaker in October 2011 and Frost should have been as well.

Asked if she had participated in the poll padding, he replied, “Not to my knowledge, no.”

Wiseman said he asked the caucus office to take Frost’s name off the mass mailing list after The Telegram requested an interview on the subject.

“Whatever comes out for their office, her name shouldn’t be part of it.”

Asked about Tory attempts to manipulate polls, Wiseman said parties will do what they believe they must to further their views and engage supporters.

“I leave that to them,” he said. “When it spills over to the floor of the House of Assembly, it becomes my business.”

He wasn’t always as hands-off, Wiseman admitted, alluding to his many years in provincial politics prior to being named Speaker.

“I’ve sat in government caucuses, I’ve sat in opposition caucuses and I’ve competed in four election campaigns, so obviously to do all of that, you participate very aggressively in the political process and actively get involved in partisan political activities.”

Wiseman said he voted in phone polls in his pre-speaker days, but not repeatedly.

Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of reaction to The Weekend Telegram story, particularly on social media sites and thetelegram.com.

It hasn’t been favourable for the Tories, especially Mount Pearl South MHA Paul Lane, the source of most PINs leaked to the newspaper.

“@MHAPaulLane Looks like you got caught up in your own silly games!” tweeted Con O’Brien, who often engages Lane in online exchanges. “Is all of this true, telegram has suggested FRAUD!”

Priorities in question

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons said in an interview Monday the poll stacking makes him wonder where the PC priorities are.

“In times like these, where we have huge deficits and it looks like job cuts and a number of other issues in this province, it seems like the government’s attention could be better focused than worrying about media polls and goosing those polls and making sure they look good,” he said.

Parsons said he has voted in online polls, and that surveys of interest are often noted around the office, but he said he’s not aware of an organized effort to influence the outcomes.

“I don’t think we have the time, energy or the resources, not that I’ve seen anyway,” he said. “I’m certainly not at it.”

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @SteveBartlett_

Organizations: The Telegram

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Recent comments

  • Don II
    February 19, 2013 - 17:36

    This story is a classic example of how the Dunderdale Government really operates behind the scenes. I encourage the media to document as many instances of Government corruption and unethical behavior as possible. At least the people will have a well documented record of Government abuses to review when the next election approaches. I have been inquiring into several serious cases of Government corruption and unethical behavior recently and I am appalled by what I have discovered. I am more appalled at the complacency of the media and the public who appear to not care about what the Government is doing behind the scenes! It appears that trying to expose the corruption and unethical behavior of the Government of Newfoundland is very difficult to do. Why is that I wonder? It appears that nobody wants to know and nobody wants to confront the politicians and Government types. Despite documented proof being available, I have discovered that the media is generally not interested in exposing the unethical behavior of the Government. It appears that a shoot the messenger attitude prevails in Newfoundland and Labrador. I commend Steve Bartlett for informing the public of just how the Dunderdale Government operates behind the scenes. What is most troubling is that these politicians and Government types don't see anything wrong with the way they behave and operate. To them, manipulation, misrepresentation and cheating is all a big game, it is how they win, how they get what they want done and how they mislead the people and that is just the way it is. The days of politicians and Government types even trying to pretend that they have any ethical and moral values are over. Who raised and educated these people? The Devil himself? The more they try to mislead and abuse me the deeper I will dig into the dirt that they are trying so hard to cover up!

  • Dale Ofstadt
    February 19, 2013 - 12:30

    Hey Ross....I took an unscientific poll; and guess what...NO-ONE believes you!

  • Coco
    February 19, 2013 - 12:13

    What is to prevent them from taking poll padding one step further into vote padding? I suppose that would be downplayed and acceptable too.

  • flexxa
    February 19, 2013 - 08:54

    ...yeah right! the thing that upsets me the most is how naive they think we are when the politicians open their mouths to the accusations. compulsive lairs - all of them!

  • Brian
    February 19, 2013 - 07:48

    What a joke these people are, the only thing they are concerned with is themselves and being in POWER!!!!!. Time to reduce the number of MHA's and run a government to look after the people of the province. Once elected they soon forget who put them there!!!

  • dan
    February 19, 2013 - 07:45

    Even with the PCs interference in the polls they are still losing support, it must be really bad given how they have skewed the numbers and they are still bleeding support! Good riddance to the PCs ABC in NL

  • Anon
    February 19, 2013 - 07:44

    someone tell Con O'Brien to go write a song out of it.

    • coco
      February 19, 2013 - 10:31

      Well I guess he could call it The Forsaken Taxpayer and the chorus might go something like this: “Oh oh woe hoe, my money’s gone. (minor chord) They said I’d have more but it’s gone and I never shall see it no mooooore”.

  • Scott Free
    February 19, 2013 - 07:31

    If you really want to know how impartial Ross is, ask Brad; he'll confirm that Ross doesn't interfere. Ross, you're a Red Tory, the worst kind, the opportunist variety.