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Polling oversight group shutters, leaving questions unanswered about botched polls

Alberta Pollster Janet Brown (Photo: David J. Climenhaga)

If you were wondering about that inquiry by the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association into inaccurate polling that marred the October 2017 Calgary civic election, don't hold your breath.

Publication of the inquiry by three panelists engaged by the national standards association for public opinion research companies was expected soon -- until the MRIA issued a terse statement this morning announcing it is folding its tent immediately and going out of business.

Now the release of the report, mentioned in an earlier story, is clearly in doubt.

"We want to inform you that the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association will cease day to day operations effective on July 31," the statement said. (That would explain why they weren't answering their phones on Monday.)

"The organization will be formally wound down during the month of August. The Board of Directors reached this decision after careful consideration and consultations. The organization's current financial situation leaves no other possible alternative. With a steady erosion of membership revenues and subsequent to the recent Annual Conference that left us with a significant shortfall, we are compelled to undertake this action."

That was all they had to say.

This development, apparently unexpected by almost everyone in the industry until rumours began to spread yesterday, raises the question of what will happen to the report by the three-member panel, which is said by some who heard a discussion about a preliminary version at the MRIA conference in Vancouver last month to have been highly critical of some industry members.

Carleton University Journalism Professor Paul Adams, one of the three high-profile inquiry members, said this morning the surprise announcement leaves the panel "in a bit of a quandary."

"We submitted the report in May, but the MRIA did not release it as we expected," he said. "The panel hopes to consider how to proceed in the next week or so."

Well-known Calgary pollster Janet Brown, who was interviewed by the panel, was critical of the MRIA. "This was an organization that wasn't enforcing standards, and that was dangerous to the industry," she told me this morning.

"Good riddance," Ms. Brown said in a cranky Tweet.

Now we may not get to see the panel's important report, she added in her conversation with me. "I hope that leaders in the industry who care about standards can regroup."

A story in iPolitics yesterday quotesd industry insiders suggesting no one saw this coming. "Some of Canada's biggest stakeholders and CEOs in the market research industry converged over a half-hour phone call (this) morning to talk about what's next for market research standards and practice in Canada," the story reported.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Image: David Climenhaga

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