Saskboy joins Paulitics, Jim Harris and the Green Party in the ‘dog house’?

conservative-party-support-september-to-november-2007.pngFor those of you not aware, a while back I posted mathematical evidence that Ipsos-Reid’s polling numbers are dramatically off from every other major polling firm in the country insofar as the level of support they attribute to the federal Conservative Party.

Jim Harris, the former leader (not ‘president’ as John Wright claimed him to be) of the Green Party of Canada, read my blog and enjoyed the post enough to reproduce it (with my permission, of course) with some additions of his own over on his blog.

Ipsos-Reid’s senior vice president John Wright (he seems to like it when we use his full title) didn’t particularly like what Jim and I wrote, and thus has, how shall I say, become a regular reader of Paulitics for the past few days.  Since then, however, it seems as though some additional bloggers have stumbled across Wright’s comment on this blog and have written posts on their own sites discussing what they think of Wright’s tactics.

I am not going to comment one way or another on whether I endorse Saskboy’s analysis or not.  However, in the interests of ensuring that my readers have every opportunity to critically consider and contemplate for themselves all facts as well as what they think on their own about his analysis, I have decided to link to it.

Specifically though, I wanted to draw my readers’ attention to two comments on Saskboy’s post which very much interested me.  The first was one by Wright himself wherein he wrote:

“each one of those who posted the comments have now, on their own advice, taken them down or altered them, because in the end they knew you cannot make unfounded or defamatory claims about a person or company.”

This, of course, is demonstrably untrue.  As I informed Wright when I made the changes on my blog, the changes I made, to use legal language, were made “gratuitously” and thus were accompanied by no admission of guilt nor were the changes an admission that the original text was defamatory or unfounded.  Moreover, Jim Harris explicitly spelled out, in an e-mail to Wright, that his changes to his blog post were also not an admission of guilt or an admission that the original posting was defamatory.

So, I found it interesting that Wright received explicit wording stating that changes were not made because they were defamatory, yet he still wrote that above comment on Saskboy’s blog.  Thus, I invite my readers to critically consider and contemplate for themselves whether Wright’s comment is founded in reality.

The second comment on Saskboy’s blog that I found interesting was made by an acquaintance of mine (but was not made at my behest or request).  While I have no opinion or comment one way or another on whether I endorse or share Kim’s analysis or not, I did want to present this comment to my readers for them to be free to draw conclusions on their own.

Kim wrote:

“You know, I showed Wright’s original comment to a lawyer friend of mine and she asked if he’d gotten drunk one night and went trolling on the internet. Just saying.

And Wright, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Paul at Paulitics changed his post “gratuitously” for your benefit. Just in case you’re not near your legal counsel at the moment, I’d like to refresh your memory that the legal definition of “gratuitous” is something that is done unnecessarily, without admission of guilt – so essentially, giving the baby his bottle.

The blogosphere knows you’re full of it, Jim. Instead of attacking a bunch of bloggers, I suggest that you make some inquiries into your survey-taking at the lower levels, where the mistakes are evidently being made. As a former employee, this seems entirely plausible to me. It could be the callers, or those people writing the questions themselves.

Numbers aren’t a personal attack on you – the methodology of some people in your company has been found to be lacking. Unless Ipsos-Reid has a mysterious database of Conservative supporters that nobody else has access to (you and I would both agree that this is ludicrous), Ipsos-Reid and other polling firms are contacting the same public. Why they would not get the same result is something you may want to look into, instead of making empty threats to bloggers who, despite what you may think, aren’t out to “get” you.

My point is, relax and carefully consider the facts before you comment on the blogs of others. Paul didn’t change his post because he believed what you were saying – he spoke to three or four lawyers and they said that changing the language would be the easiest way to appease you, even though he did nothing wrong. I actually know for a fact that one of his lawyers begged him to take it to the media, because nothing would be better than a story about a grown man, executive to a major polling firm, bullying a college student who crunched numbers and found his company’s polling to be inadequate, just because he can. It’s fear-mongering, John. Paul gratuitously changed his post, when he could have met your case and won, or taken you to the media and made a serious dent in your personal reputation.

And instead of attacking the evidence, be the better person and admit that there might, just might, be a problem, and look into it.”

Once again, I’m not saying I endorse Kim’s comment or not, and I certainly didn’t ask her to make it, but as a public service announcement, I felt it best to allow my readers to draw their own conclusions from it and to draw their attention to the lively (and still ongoing) debate over at Saskboy’s site.

Happy reading!


4 Responses to “Saskboy joins Paulitics, Jim Harris and the Green Party in the ‘dog house’?”

  1. 1 martinp 6 December, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Interesting stuff, as always. He does have a point if the term ‘suppression’ was used. However, he also has a point that IF the Green party put it up at their site then its a different ballgame than blogging. What that does to blogging is quite interesting as well. It’s simple. People like Saskboy and Paul would be smart to simply put up a graph and then post anonymously at their own site about the ‘suppression’ part. Ipsos can’t prove it was them, and probably doesn’t care what with the minimal readership. I can sorta kinda see their point since this is their bread and butter-too many stories about them ‘suppressing’ things can affect the bottom line. The other irony is that it can also be changed by statements of opinion-“that ‘insert name here’ is a lying jackass”. See, thats all above board. He can try to sue, but simply ask “have you EVER told a lie?” and suing somebody makes a person a jackass, therefore its all completely true.

    I do agree that bloggers have to take responsibility for what they say, especially slander. However, the reality of the internet is such that its a long way off before somebody can prove that a blogger supports the comments made at his/her site (which means a blogger can simply post anonymously at their own site). The law simply hasn’t caught up to the technology. However, if this hadn’t been at the Green Party website, I doubt they’d have cared. The only people I’ve ever seen who care about political polls are the ones who actually stay on the phone-and those are damn few. It’s only the ‘intelligentsia’ which likes to talk on and on about its made up view of reality that pays attention.

  2. 2 in favour of free political speech 8 December, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    It’s evident that John Wright made up his own explanation of the action of persons he intimidated. He knows full well that the utterly ridiculous and archaic 17th century libel laws of Canada, in particular those of BC and Ontario, so favour the plaintiff that most people will back down and shut up no matter how well-founded or how much in the public interest their observations are. This makes him a typical corporate-Canada bully, relying on powers granted him by the monopoly of force of the state to continue deceiving others and controlling resources. But it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s covering up a deliberately bogus sampling methodology.

    It does suggest incompetence at that most basic of statistical skills, differentiating causality from correlation. Simpson’s Paradox for instance requires one to consider that a broader consideration of more factors will, by definition, reverse the causality. So if we initially are inclined to believe John Wright’s assertion about cause then we need only expand our analysis to include factors such as “libel chill” and the causality reverses: these comments were withdrawn because they were provably true, accordingly very damaging to Wright, and the basis for an even bigger claim under Canada’s absurd libel law regime.

    In that regime, telling the truth on matters of public interest can cost the criminal establishment a lot of money, which they are entitled to get back from you in the courts. There is no exemption for public interest or political speech (although these can be used as defenses in some cases, that assumes that the defendant can get to court with competent representation, i.e. has tens to hundreds of thousands of spare dollars). No requirement that judges recognize and throw out such cases. Not even a SLAPP clause to entitle victims of such chilling/silencing lawsuits to say triple damages as in California. Now Harper has even eradicated the fund for Supreme Court challenges. So it may be a long time before these laws are seriously changed.

    In the meantime, Canadians would be best advised to:

    1. Comment on these matters from offshore forums or using anonymous proxies such as those provided by the TOR network.

    2. Encourage development of offshore forums that cannot be touched by Canadian lawsuits and which ignore court orders from Canadian courts, and have strong privacy protections in law to prevent the casual release of IP numbers and so on.

    3. Assume that anyone who files, or threatens to file, any libel lawsuit on a matter of analysis or opinion on public interest matters (not spreading of plain false statements of fact which no one wants), is guilty of what they are charged of and that the opinion is correct and should be acted upon.

    3a. For example, refusing to deal with John Wright, sending letters of protest regarding his tactics to any newspaper or media outlet that cites Ipsos-Reid numbers, and pointing out his prejudicial language regarding for instance the likelihood of Green Party support being as high as other polls say.

    4. Insisting that political parties and charities that you support work to ban libel chill and reform Canadian libel laws to protect political dissidents both abroad and at home, as a first condition of donating to them. After all, political speech protects all other rights, so it’s futile to keep pouring money into a black hole of a political system that doesn’t support at least open opinion exchange and removes all barriers to the exchange of true facts and legitimate statistical observations (such as Jim Harris made).

    5. Taking every measure possible to prevent dealings with and disbar or disadvantage any and all legal counsel who act for the plaintiff on such matters. It is not within the legitimate role of the legal profession to suppress political opinion, according to the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights. Their career progress should end as soon as they participate in so much as drafting a letter that tries to intimidate anyone from stating a political opinion, and their careers should end upon filing such suits.

    There are various means to achieve this including exploiting the fact that most credible lawyers in Canada do not advise to file such suits in such circumstances. Precisely because people like us will make observations such as those above. It is therefore only incompetent and unethical lawyers who milk their clients by advising them to pursue such lawsuits.

  1. 1 Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy » Blog Archive » Alberta have a lot of lawyers or something? Trackback on 9 January, 2008 at 7:15 am
  2. 2 That’s some mighty interesting polling data you’ve got there « Paulitics Trackback on 10 June, 2009 at 5:29 pm

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