THE BC Liberals on Thursday said that after their questioning, the NDP government has admitted to spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on secretive opinion polling before their unnecessary pandemic election. This information confirms suspicions that the government had been planning to call a snap election for months.
“Despite [Premier] John Horgan’s claims, the fall election was not spontaneous — it was carefully planned months in advance to take advantage of British Columbians,” said Mike Bernier, BC Liberal Critic for Finance. “Not only does this polling reveal the NDP’s calculated decision to risk public safety and call an election, but it also shows they have no problem spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for their own political benefit.”
Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests show the government direct-awarded a $95,000 polling contract to Strategic Communications, a firm that has donated nearly $40,000 to the NDP. The opinion poll tracked the public’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and perception of government programs on a daily basis. Additionally, in the month before the election was called, NDP MLAs spent more than $200,000 on taxpayer-funded advertising, including $150,000 on a direct-mail campaign.
“Both the polling contract and advertising spending demonstrate the cynical nature of the fall election and the NDP’s willingness to do whatever it took to secure a majority government — regardless of the cost,” said Bernier. “It reveals the hypocrisy of this government, which has continually claimed to ‘follow the science,’ all while making risky decisions based on public opinion polling. It has become increasingly clear that John Horgan purposely misled British Columbians about why he called an election — costing them thousands in the process.”
Pressed on the issue in Budget 2021 estimates debate, the Minister of Finance confirmed that taxpayers were funding $600,000 worth of past and future opinion polling contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attachment: GCPE Work Order Request