Other MHAs helped pad the polls

Steve Bartlett
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Kent, Granter also gung-ho on the practice; premier says input is part of politics

Steve Kent

Paul Lane is not the only Tory MHA rallying caucus to goose media polls.

The BlackBerry messages leaked to The Telegram show that Mount Pearl North MHA Steve Kent and Humber West MHA Vaughn Granter are at it, too.

“Please vote no!” Kent wrote, urging colleagues to phone and cast a ballot in the NTV Question of the Week.

He then gives the phone number and writes in brackets, “Remember to always ask them to give you the question first … it’s about Muskrat … I’m sure someone will send us the exact wording.”

As reported in The Weekend Telegram Feb. 16, BlackBerry PINs obtained by the paper prove Tory MHAs and their political supporters regularly try to manipulate online media polls in the government’s favour.

They also co-ordinate their efforts to parrot the party line on radio call-in shows.

In the messages The Telegram obtained — which are only a snapshot of the activity, a party source says — Lane was the main MHA rallying the Progressive Conservative troops to vote multiple times on media polls and to phone open-line shows to say good things about the government.

The date of Kent’s PIN to his colleagues about the NTV question was deleted.

It was sent to members of the PC caucus and a long list of staff and party backers.

Notably absent from the list of recipients is Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s name.

Granter got Kent’s message and joined in the chorus, sending out a PIN that said, “Thanks Steve. Come on everyone let’s get the phones going at NTV (word missing) weekend. Thanks Vaughn.”


Part of politics

Dunderdale said Wednesday that taking part in polls about current issues is part of the political process.

“Oh, please. There’s no story here,” Dunderdale said. “Do we participate in polls? You betcha. Who in Newfoundland doesn’t, whether it comes to Canadian Idol or something that affects us?”

Having input and expressing opinions about important topics is part of a politician’s job, the premier said.

“We have a view as politicians. And certainly nobody in any other political party is going to tell us that they don’t participate in political polling,” she said.

“Do we participate in forming opinion or trying to shape opinion? Do we get on open-line shows? Do we talk about what our messages are and how do we get them to the media? We do it all the time.

“You know, that’s politics.”

Asked whether responding to media polls is a good use of time by MHAs and PC party staffers, Dunderdale replied, “You know something, we don’t spend our whole day sat around pressing redial, redial, redial, redial. But we’re politicians. We have a perspective. We have to relay what that perspective is and talk about that perspective to the people of the province.

“So do we participate? Just like every other citizen in Newfoundland and Labrador, you betcha. So do the Liberals. So do the NDP. So do the Green party. Anybody who has a political point of view that’s important to them, whether you’re in politics, whether you’re in entertainment, whether you’re a member of the Board of Trade, you find a way to express that. That’s why you have polls. That’s why we have open-line shows. So, you know, we’re no different than the rest of the population.”


Refused comment

When asked for comment for this story, Kent replied by email, “Thanks for the opportunity to comment, but I’m not really interested in doing interviews based on information from anonymous sources.”

Granter also replied via email to a request for comment, and with a familiar refrain.

“I am out of province,” he wrote, “but in reality I cannot do an interview based on information from anonymous sources.”

While the PINs indicate which MHAs and staffers sent emails encouraging others to vote or phone radio shows, there is no indication of who responded to those messages by taking action.

Except for one PIN.

In response to a message from Lane encouraging caucus to vote on an NTV question, Bellevue MHA Calvin Peach responded, “Done done done and then some.”

Peach originally talked to The Telegram when contacted about the issue, but abruptly withdrew his comments upon learning that none of his colleagues had done interviews.



Twitter: @TelegramSteve

With a file from The Western Star

Organizations: The Telegram, NDP, Board of Trade

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Western Star

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    February 25, 2013 - 12:29

    I understand why Dean Macdonald desided not to run for the Liberal Party at this time, the only problem he had, was his own party. I just read over sixty postings, about 95% of it was done by the opposition(on MHA's Padding the Polls), what a joke!! It's scarey, the thoughts of these people running our province. Keep "talking" and "on the computer" we will be safe.

  • Devil's Advocate
    February 25, 2013 - 08:49

    I am not really in to politics, but I do remember when the Conservatives first got the power back, a conservative manifesto was found, a plan to disrupt parliament. So what happened? Well they disrupted and shut down parliament, remember that? and then they get voted in again, WTF? If people are not stupid then they certainly have short memories. I think all politicians, and judges, on all levels, should be replaced with poll systems. A 3 part poll system (city, provincial, federal) that lists the issues and each citizen gets to log in with their SIN # and vote once on each issue. The money we would save by getting rid of all these self serving A-holes would easily pay for such a system. That would be true power to the people... imagination that.

  • Johnnnnnn Smith
    February 22, 2013 - 10:25

    I am finally seeing the light. The PCs and the Premier have crossed the line in this attempt to manipulate the public opinion by skewing the polls. Terrible. And the premier says Ya betcha, we do it . Immorality at the top . I'm rethinking my support for Nalcor and the Muskrat falls deal. Surely we need honestly and transparency for using so much public money. Even Nalcor is using spies to monitor who is a critic and what they say, paid by public funds.

  • John
    February 21, 2013 - 22:24

    I think online polls should block the ip addresses of politicians and government employees so it is impossible for them to vote. Also, if a politician does use the poll that they should be required to identify themselves in the comment section of the poll so that people will know it is a view of a political party and not of a member of the general public. The fact that anyone would feel it is okay to skew a poll of any type on government time represents a serious ethical problem in government thinking.

  • stephen
    February 21, 2013 - 17:38

    The liberals have been doing it for ten years in Ontario.

    • Kev
      February 21, 2013 - 23:16

      "Liberals did it too!" - the last refuge of a fading Conservative party.

  • Steve
    February 21, 2013 - 16:51

    These aren't really anonymous sources, these emails are from the MHAs themselves. Also, what is the problem with anonymous sources anyway? If an anonymous source, like in a whistleblower case solved a terrible crime, why would that be wrong?

  • Boy Scout Wonder
    February 21, 2013 - 14:58

    Steve Kent is a real dandy. He sucks around, gets nowhere, and is now revealed to be a big part of this scamming. Scouts dishonour???

  • Duffy
    February 21, 2013 - 14:55

    We don't pay the scumbags enough to be honest. Maybe they should get $125,000 a year instead of a paltry $90,000 plus benefits. Blunderdale....Musk-Rat Falls......Caribou Slaughters and nothing done,,,,,,,,,Stacking Polls to favor their party..........Millions to Nalcor before sanction..............gestamating oil at outrageous prices then going into a deficiet.... Vote anything but what is in office. It can't get any worse!

  • Daryl
    February 21, 2013 - 14:43

    Oh Grow Up, John Smith and No One Tells Me How To Vote - is that you Stevie, Paul or Kathy???????? LMFAO.... Come on Telegram, please reveal to us all if these pretend names are all the guys and gals of the PC group tring to slant things again. Please, come on, the waiting is killing me.

  • Albert
    February 21, 2013 - 14:42

    The premier needs to be reminded, there is one poll she can't pad, and people will not forget the giveaways and arrogance when that poll rolls around in 2015.

  • Jon Smith
    February 21, 2013 - 14:16

    Its Ok to rig polls, lie and cheat in the political arena and then go and read to the elementary children and condemn bullying and tell them right from wrong.After all its the age of secrecy,hiding, cowardice, cheating and stealing if you are above the rest-have the power.

  • Alma, Mount Pearl
    February 21, 2013 - 14:11

    Politics aside, surely we can all agree on one thing -that Kent has to be the most obnoxious, hard faced, crass, out-of-control politician of any stripe. And is that any surprise, all things considered? I don't know if this government will survive another election but my guess is that Kent won't. Which would be a good thing for government, the public and perhaps even Kent himself. He is young enough that a resounding knock-back by the electorate might actually lead to an attitude adjustment and a better understanding of the concept of public service.

  • Rob
    February 21, 2013 - 13:52

    Steve Kent! Useless, he is the kid at the table calling Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!!!! Useless is too good a word for that fella. Maybe its because he is from Mount Pearl, I also despise Randy Simms..... But this polling thing. Who cares this is old news all parties do it.

  • Torey Normore
    February 21, 2013 - 13:24

    These fools have less credibility than, say....some fellows named: Brazeau; Duffy; Armstrong; Pistorious; Peneshue; OJ; et all.

  • truth or consequences
    February 21, 2013 - 13:09

    Keep up the good work reporters! You are the only real hope we may ever have of finding out how BILLIONS in public funds went missing from public view. They severely restricted the auditor general in his examination of the books and they enacted their own secrecy legislation but the truth shall prevail!

  • Ed. Anstey
    February 21, 2013 - 12:37

    vaughn i thought that you were a decent person but now i see you are associating with some pretty crappy people. get back on the high road and start demanding our new hospital. if you don't you know the rest of the story.... thats what we elected you to do.

  • David Wilson
    February 21, 2013 - 12:26

    I wonder how many MHA's and staff cronies (from all parties) are chiming in on this discussion board. Reveal your true identies cowards.

  • Marty
    February 21, 2013 - 11:31


    • dan
      February 21, 2013 - 12:00

      Here Here Marty! Kent and Lane are the two biggest slime balls and boot licks there can be! Bye Bye boys next election, the move is already underway in Mt. Pearl to get rid of you two! nanananananananannaa hey hey good bye!

    • Mr.U
      February 21, 2013 - 14:41

      So many comments of complaint...lol the entire human race lie,cheat,manipulate why is this a story?! I say the only ones who write in to bash & complain are those that just are not very good liers,cheaters,manipulating ppl.

  • Political Watcher
    February 21, 2013 - 11:28

    And there is my surprise look; the only question is why it took three days to find this out. He was useless as Mayor looking only after his own interests and now Boy Wonder is useless as an MHA. Me thinks he should go back to being an eagle scout.

  • Eli
    February 21, 2013 - 11:24

    And the premier doesn't have a problem with this bullshit while her minion is paid in excess of $100,000.00 a year and WE foot his bills? What a rep for NL's first female premier, and what a dud Mt. Pearl North has for a member.

  • D Smith
    February 21, 2013 - 11:23

    Just curious...would "Access to Information" allow the media to check Internet IP addresses to see how much time was spent and/or votes were cast from staffers' computers? If this is done on a politician's own time (or that of his/her staff), it's one thing...on taxpayer time, whole different story!!! Keep it up Tely!

    • W McLean
      February 21, 2013 - 14:21

      Someone tried that. It was raised during the Bill 29 debate as an example of a "frivolous and vexatious" request. It was also obvious that the government stalled and stymied the request.

  • John Smith
    February 21, 2013 - 11:22

    Oh goody, a nice little hatefest by the liberals and the NDP...how quaint. funny how when asked both Dwight and Lorraine admitted to doing the same thing...but let's not talk about that...'eh Telly...LOL this is a hoot...

    • Robb
      February 21, 2013 - 11:41

      Very well said John. I just hope there are more important issues to deal with....I mean the Tely has this big story......who gives a crap...???.....but this is what the Tely likes to do...the only way to sell a few newspapers. What I would like to see in the Tely is them just sticking to something important.....maybe spif up your classified section, or have more in the comics section, but that's about it. Now, in the real world, who gives a rats a$$ about some stupid online polls......and all parties will give you a different view of them depending on who is ahead and who is in the basement....so they mean little, and as far as I am concerned they should be against the law......I am going to vote for who I am going to vote for, and no stupid poll or politician is going to sway my vote. So just like bars cannot be open on voting day, as people coudl be swayed to vote a particular way, polls should not be allowed, as they may sway people to go with the popular vote, or not, whatever....they are useless instruments that are glorified by the media, period. So once all you disappearing liberals and un-economically sound ndp stop the bickering, hopefully the govt can get down to business and get something done.

    • Get a Grip
      February 21, 2013 - 12:53

      John, is this the best defense you can put forward for the indefensible? It's wrong by any party; don't you get it? Now go back to the backbenches and wait for your que to distribute the Con Party spin notes.

  • Whaddaya At
    February 21, 2013 - 11:15

    This just in !!!. Paul Lane's thumbs are healing quicker than expected after the outer layer of skin on both thumbs was rubbed raw from non-stop use of his Blackberry. His sidekick, and fellow Crackberry addict, Steve Kent, had less serious injury to his thumbs. Both of these slackar$es are expected to be back on Open Line, ad nauseam, but Dunderdale has warned them to cut out that Blackberry $hit.

  • Fred Penner
    February 21, 2013 - 11:05

    This simply demonstrates another failing of modern "democracy". It is a self styled popularity contest and will continue to be until the body politic insists on a higher standard. You get the government that you deserve!

    • coco
      February 21, 2013 - 14:29

      Well at least when you get mugged on the street you can demand that something be done about it. Having to wait for an election is like having to wait two and a half years for a court date while the robber’s hands are still firmly planted in your pockets.

  • Mac
    February 21, 2013 - 10:58

    The clowns are the voters. Every comment here and every comment I hear about this government (the government we landslided in) is about how awful they are. Come election day, they will get in again. We know they will. Maybe the opposition does not give good options, but people acknowledge how bad this option is, but they will vote them in again. Guaranteed. The clowns are not the politicians. The clowns are the voters. "I have seen the enemy, and it is us!"

  • Remember Brian Tobin
    February 21, 2013 - 10:55

    The manipulation of public opinion and the media really took off under Brian Tobin. He tripled the PR staff and created an entire floor in Confederation Building to media monitoring and public manipulation on the seventh floor. I note they did not have to give up their offices for the Premier during the renovations. Instead, they moved the Dept of Justice to Elizabeth Avenue. That shows you what their priorities are; not what is right, but what is in their own interest.

  • crooks, crooks, and more crooks
    February 21, 2013 - 10:47

    when will all this corruption end ? a crook is a crook, no matter what colour they wear, but what does politics and the court system have in common ? in court you swear under oath to tell the true and nothing but the truth, in politics its lies, lies, and nothing but lies. SICKENING !

  • Don II
    February 21, 2013 - 10:42

    The Telegram and the brave person who revealed the documents exposing this issue in the public interest should be highly commended and encouraged to continue with such inquiries and reporting. This is another example of why Government in Newfoundland and Labrador needs Whistleblower legislation, more transparent and full access to information, increased budgets and personnel for such oversight bodies as the offices of the Citizens Representative, the Information Commissioner, the Auditor General and all other investigative and oversight bodies. It appears that Premier Dunderdale has a flippant attitude toward ethics and fairness in public matters and politics. The Premier should seriously consider enrolling in professional ethics and public administration courses as soon as possible. There is a huge difference between voting for someone on an Idol TV show and manipulating public opinion polls which are purported to demonstrate the public opinion on vital issues which may lead to legislation, public policy changes and decisions which will adversely affect the people of the Province. This behavior and attitude on the part of the Dunderdale Government is not acceptable!

  • Waiting
    February 21, 2013 - 10:41

    I'm waiting to see the Liberals and NDP will own up to doing the same thing. They're strangely silent.

  • Oh Grow up
    February 21, 2013 - 10:38

    Who doesn't vote in these "polls" and vote often. Every political supporter, special interest group, and their dog tries to sway these "polls". What seems to be forgotten are that MEDIA POLLS ARE NOT REAL POLLS. They are not randomly selected votes and the choices are often skewed. They are the complete opposite of what is a real poll. No one, with any basic knowledge of statistics, will ever quote one of these "polls" or rely on the results. They are purely for entertainment purposes. Anyone who actually believes the results of these "polls" is choosing fiction over fact. It makes you wonder what the real reason is for these "polls".

  • John Smith
    February 21, 2013 - 10:35

    Funny how the NDP and the Liberals admitted to doing the same thing, yet no one is calling them out on it. People have opinions, and they should not be allowed to vote because they are in politics, or belong to a party? I never heard about that rule before...give me a break...

    • W McLean
      February 21, 2013 - 11:30

      You've been quiet lately, "John Smith". Was worried about your health. Hope you don't have the same flu that has hobbled half the Mount Pearl caucus.

  • Daryl
    February 21, 2013 - 10:35

    I guess Paul Lane has to find something to do while he sitting at all those supper tables waiting to be served!! Everything he updates his facebook page or twitter - he's at some supper - sometimes several in the same evening..... I am sure we will get this type of stuff again under some other party, but for me, I will never allow my vote to do so again for this current bunch in the PC Party. I have been a lifetime supporter, but you guys are priceless. And Kathy, can you learn to speak without constantly sounding like a two year old about to cry??? Just like the deficits and cutbacks - you guys lie through your teeth.............and then turn around and give your buddies wonderful appointments...........You are legalized thieves!!!

  • Jeremiah
    February 21, 2013 - 10:31

    How stund can political parties get? One would think that they would want to know what the public thinks and act accordingly. Where do we always manage to find the stundest of the stund to run this place?

  • no one tells me how to vote
    February 21, 2013 - 10:30

    I have taken part in different polls,(not the phone in ones or on-line ones) but no one tells me how to vote, I don't care who calls, texts, e-mails or whatever other way they want to get in touch with me, I vote the way I want to, and I think most people do the same, as for those phone in polls, I think they are a bunch of crap anyway, and for anyone to go by them, they believe in crap too.

  • Corporate Psycho
    February 21, 2013 - 10:30

    What a total embarrassment for the Premier.

    February 21, 2013 - 10:15

    And maybe all these negative comments have been posted by one Liberal hack... News? Really? You're all cracked!

  • Galls Me
    February 21, 2013 - 10:06

    And we pay these clowns for this; and pension them off! Politics is such a dirty game; you can tell by the scum it attracts.

  • Newfie SquidHat
    February 21, 2013 - 10:06

    Folks, If anybody here doesn't believe the Liberals or the NDP are not doing the same thing you all might as well press the shut down button on your computers now. Telegram, please for the love of god start writing some interesting stories and not ones littered with anonymous sources and hear-say. The CBC is just as bad promoting this overblown story. Come on b'ys what about that harbour fence? You got any inside scoops on that?

  • saelcove
    February 21, 2013 - 10:04

    Did everyone just wake up because this has been going on for years by all parties, Don,t be so naive

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    February 21, 2013 - 09:48

    Hmmm ....after reading this story it makes you wonder who is the real - "John Smith"

  • holy smokes
    February 21, 2013 - 09:11

    Dunderdale said Wednesday that taking part in polls about current issues is part of the political process. In out scam...Pierre Poutine....Defaming opposition MPs..misleading the public....ALL part of the 'Tory disruption Action Plan'.....Nationally AND provincially.....Until we ALL wake up this type of Political interference and 'padding' will continue ad nauseam!!

  • bob conway
    February 21, 2013 - 09:02

    remember this bs on election day.

  • Pollster
    February 21, 2013 - 08:55

    I conducted a poll; 100% of respondents said out with you clowns. If this is your contributions to society, you're hardly worthy of the title, Honorable Members.

  • Whaddaya At
    February 21, 2013 - 08:51

    Is Dunderdale trying to justify the embarrassing amount of time Paul Lane and Steve Kents spend on their Blackberrys ?. As Dunderdale would say ' you betcha '. Is Dunderdale simply trying to cover their asses after their Crackberry addiction was made public ?.' You betcha'. Does Dunderdale think the public is stupid enough to think the time those two spend on their Blackberrys is time well spent ?' You betcha'. Think Dunderdale read the Riot Act to those two and told them to cut out that $hit and stop making a rod for her a$$.' You betcha '.

  • Thank God
    February 21, 2013 - 08:43

    Aswesome; at least they found something for Kent to do that matches his skills set.

  • Gullible Tory
    February 21, 2013 - 08:30

    These buffoons make even Senators look like credible people with some integrity.

  • Scott Free
    February 21, 2013 - 08:29

    Ministers of the Clown and voiceless and thoughtless backbenchers. I've heard of Kent before, but who's Lane and Granter? I guess this is the only task they're capable of anyway; in Kent's case, he's been passed over so often it's embarassing. I've said all along, like many other posters on here, that there's many an "imposter"....see, John Smith, for example; everyone knew he was a paid Tory wag.

  • Bruce
    February 21, 2013 - 08:25

    Now that Mr. Granter has finished poll padding, maybe he can spend some time on the hospital file in Corner Brook.

  • Bill
    February 21, 2013 - 08:22

    " anonymous sources" sounds like a prepared "talking point."

  • Shane
    February 21, 2013 - 08:22

    This government is now justifying what it does rather than promoting what it's doing. Bad direction.

  • Kev
    February 21, 2013 - 08:18

    The PC party is done, done, and done.

  • oh dear
    February 21, 2013 - 08:17

    Crawling over each other to spin messages. Is this what the party's COMMS professionals have resorted to? Oh dear, and bye bye from me PCs. It's been a slow bleed but I cannot support any longer. Some of the MHAs and party faithful have not been supporting (do not support) this crap.

  • GFD
    February 21, 2013 - 08:17

    Leave Stevie alone. He's only doing what he is told. To go to the extreme, if a poll had 100 votes and they were all from politicians, would Dunderdale say she has 100% support ?? Probably yes. Whatever the numbers, you are influencing the poll, which should be independent.

  • Scott Free
    February 21, 2013 - 08:15

    What other task would you assign to Kent; he's the prototypical boot-licking, brown-nosing, coat-tail politician.

  • Harper Hugs
    February 21, 2013 - 08:13

    Too funny. We have peter penashue in the feds and paul lane here in NL. Is he working with elections canada too now?

  • Cold Future
    February 21, 2013 - 08:06

    Good Government would not need to pad polls or be continuously praising self- but the PC's need to and have to- enough said!

  • randy
    February 21, 2013 - 08:03

    What a bunch of morons- If they were doing what they were elected to do ,the province wouldn't be in the mess it is . They can tweet and e-mail and manipulate all they want ,but the peaple aren't stupid

  • Townie Bayman
    February 21, 2013 - 08:00

    Well I sure am happy to see that our tax dollars are being spent responsibly! Mr kent is really earning his pay, perks and pension by getting people to vote in these polls. I'm some glad to see that he is not in the Confed Building wasting time. Makes me feel right good every two weeks when I see taxes deducted from my pay going into his pocket.

    • MBC
      February 21, 2013 - 13:38

      Steve kent and paul lane have nothing better to do. There should be only one mha for these two districts...save taxpayers dollars!