Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Political polls at a virtual town hall meeting

I just got a phone call from the Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan and the local Member of Parliament, Rick Bartelucci, on a virtual town hall meeting. Unfortunately, I had to go put the kids to bed before I had a chance to ask my question, but I will write about it here instead.

They asked 2 polls, and, as a student in a program called "Applied Social Research" I have no choice but to comment on these questions. They were horrible.

What is your biggest concern about the economy?
1. Jobs
2. Taxes
3. Deficit
Press 4 if your situation is worse than it was a year ago

No "other" or "none of the above".

So, if your situation is worse than it was a year ago, you cannot choose a main concern? Or if you have a concern (from this list), then you can't say your condition is worse than a year ago?

Not exactly an exclusive or exhaustive list.

What about those of us who have concerns that are not on this list. A few things come to mind... $2-4 billion in corporate tax cuts, cuts to social programs, the wage freeze for non-unionized employees that attempted to undermine union rights to bargain for a collective agreement.

What about education? That was going to be my question. Do they have any plans to make education more accessible?

I was going to start by saying something along the lines of "As a social researcher, I think that it is important to have a more exclusive and exhaustive list. How do you expect to get accurate information about what we think when you are severely limiting our response options? Is this the type of information on which you base your political platforms?"

Then I wanted to answer their poll by telling them that what matters most to me is education- tuition is going up and course options are dropping... my program has NO electives because they do not have the money to pay for it. Student loans are at unprecedented levels... I will have to pay $600 per month for 10 years when i graduate. Will they freeze (and by freeze, I mean eliminate, but I'm being realistic here) tuition and/or come up with other ways to make education more accessible?

Unfortunately, I didn't get that opportunity. Not that I expected it to make a difference for his platform, but they reported an absurd amount of people on the call, and I wanted to get the message out. Maybe I'll turn this post into a letter to the editor so that it might be read by a few more people than my blog allows.

The second poll question was better written, but I think there was a reason for that.

What do you think was our [provincial Liberals] top accomplishment?
1. Strengthening education (did they do this? I missed that memo)
2. Improving health care by getting doctors for people (what about the tens of thousands in my hometown who don't have doctors?)
3. Getting people working (again, when did this happen)
4. Cutting tax for 90% of Ontario tax payers (at what cost?)
5. Building clean, reliable energy system (some progress here, but still not enough)

They did give us more options, but this question was not to ask our opinion, but to tell us what it is that they did. To make us think that they have really accomplished something over the past few years. To advertise their supposed accomplishments.

What a joke.

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