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Letter: Leading questions, scripted answers

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I just hung up on a very pleasant female who asked a series of questions which were, to say the least, intrusive and unsettling.

First off, she asked if anyone in my household worked in government or the media — the usual question. I answered, “No” and then the questions started. There were “answers” suggested “Do you strongly agree? Partly agree? Partly disagree? Strongly disagree?” to such statements as: Immigrants coming to Canada are a burden on the government; Immigrants do not represent Canadian values; etc.

I was aware of the probable origin of such a survey after about four such statements followed by the question: “What is your opinion of the United States of America?” — this was followed by a “choice” of answers which stated “Very favourable; partly favourable; partly unfavourable; and very unfavourable.” I explained that I love the United States but am having considerable difficulty approving of many of the tactics and policies of the present administration. However, I was not allowed to answer precisely so I explained that if they want truthful replies, they should allow a person the right to frame their reply precisely — and I wasn’t being allowed to.

The questioner spoke more stridently: “What is your opinion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? If a situation required a choice between supporting this Charter, or asking the Supreme Court to intervene, which do you believe should follow?”

That did it for me. I realized that such a survey doesn’t want to engage in any sort of discussion or thoughtful research into a particular issue, but wants to build “button” answers for robots — which is what we, as a public, are fast turning into. I told the questioner that I didn’t blame her; I declined to answer because such a question required much forethought and research. I said that I would hang up and I did so.

Of course, the number which called me was unlisted. Such surveys seeking information never provide any about themselves nor their motives in asking questions.

I realized that such a survey doesn’t want to engage in any sort of discussion or thoughtful research into a particular issue, but wants to build “button” answers for robots — which is what we, as a public, are fast turning into.

My support of a political party has always been dependent upon actions, statements and initiatives of candidates and party as they prepare for an election; so, I have voted over the years for all three of Canada’s major parties. Times have changed. The reasonable-sounding “one man, one vote” has morphed into a movement for power which would centralize in cities, and means that in Canada, the rural areas, the North, the Atlantic provinces, the Prairies would not have as much power. I therefore refuse to support the initiative which is strongly embraced by certain parties seeking to solidify the power base that designs such surveys and diminishes the real power of people. That power, in my mind, is inherent in the right of each individual to equal representation, wherever on this Earth the person lives, however they may be employed, whatever may be their income, social status, race, gender, religion or philosophy, level of education and state of health. That means that migrants should be supported by countries which they have turned to in the helpless need to find a safe and humane place to live. I tried to answer the survey in such a manner but was denied the right by the limited answers offered.

To me, it appears that the pressure from ambitious and power-hungry interests around the world, including on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, shows a very dangerous turn of events. The extremist wings of politics are riddled with dirty players. Freedoms which I have treasured all my life have been discarded by both right and left. Truth no longer matters to such subversive groups; politics is no longer a development in which civilization progresses, but regresses.

In future, I will decline to take part in telephone and computer surveys which do not reveal their origin, nor their particular biases.

Judy Gibson

St. John’s

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