Saturday, August 06, 2005

Faron Ellis' earlier 'research' on Western independence

There's been some interesting reactions to the recent story in the Western Standard that claims that separatist sentiments in the west are soaring. Over at the Grandite, it's been pointed out (here and here) that JMCK and Faron Ellis, who did this poll, is not really at an arms length from the Western Standard.

Faron Ellis is described thus in the Western Standard story:
The research, which was conducted by pollster Faron Ellis, a political science professor at the Lethbridge Community College, was commissioned by the Western Standard to determine how well the federal government under Prime Minister Paul Martin has been managing the issue of western alienation–something that Martin promised to reduce as part of his 2004 election campaign.
The description is probably misleading. Lethbridge Community College has no Political Science Department, so Ellis is hardly a 'political science professor', all the more since being a community college, the LCC will not have 'professors', but 'instructors'. As far as I can tell he is an instructor in 'Applied Social Sciences' and in charge of Citizen Society Research Lab, which describes itself as
"an applied research and teaching initiative specializing in quantitative public opinion studies. Each semester, Lethbridge Community College and Athabasca University students conduct one omnibus public opinion survey within the city of Lethbridge."
At the site, you can find earlier student surveys, including one on one of Dr. Ellis' favorite themes, Western Independence, 'published' in March 2003, which tracked support in Lethbridge for the statement "Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of creating their own country" and got these results:
Feb. '01 Oct. '01 Oct. '02
Strongly Support 4.7 4.6 4.6
Support 14.2 17.4 18.0
Oppose 42.7 42.0 43.4
Strongly Oppose 38.4 35.3 31.8
The question is reminicent of the one in his famous 'Kyoto poll' that was released in Nov./Dec. 2002 that I mentioned here, quoting a Calgary Sun report on it.

The odd thing is that Ellis' separatism-rising-because-of-Kyoto poll (also done for JMCK) gathered its data at about the same time as Dr. Ellis had his students polling citizens of Lethbridge on their attitudes. But compare the numbers. When asked how the government should respond to the ratification of Kyoto, the JMCK poll (run by Ellis at almost exactly the same time) got these results:
Nothing can be done 43.8
Explore Independence 46.8
Seek to join U.S. 9.4
The question is, why did nearly identical questions asked at nearly identical moments get such different results?


M. K. Braaten said...

You said "...that claims that separatist sentiments in the west are soaring."

Perhaps I'm missing your line of logic here but correct me if I'm wrong:

If 43% of Albertans agreed with this statement:

"Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country."

How does this NOT signify that separatist sentiments are soaring?

Granted, a majority of the answers are a function of western anger, rather then separation. But I dont understand what your problem is with the question. Isn't "forming their own country" correlated to separation and if so wouldnt that mean that there is separation sentiment? Sentiment is much different then an actual belief.

buckets said...

If you read the other thread, you'll see that the question that the pollster is asking is getting lower answers than it did two years ago.

In this thread, I'm more interested in the fact that Faron could ask the same question at the same time and get a 20% different answer.

What's the problem with the question? If we did a poll that asked people if the agree to the statement that we should begin to explore the idea that (say) we should increase taxes, you'll get an answer that is 20-30% higher than if you ask them 'do you think we should increase taxes'.

Are there separatists in Alberta? Yup. I'm from there and I know a few. But only 12 of them believed enough in independence to offer themselves as candidates in the last election, and only 4680 of them believed in it enough to vote for a separatist candidate.

Aizlynne said...

Because they phoned 1500 seniors at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Right Ho said...

Buckets -- While I recognize that this has nothing to do with this post, what are your thoughts on the ETB/MWW affair? Since she was an active player in the Buckets of Grewal saga, I'm just curious.

As well, there has been an interesting development in this matter. Check out my blog and scroll down to the post on Edward T Bear to find out more!

meghanlane7004 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CoteGauche said...

It's probably a push poll.

The good "professor" and his students probably read a pre-prepared text outlining all of the over hyped exagerated greivances that Alberta supposedly has with the federal government and then asked the question.

CoteGauche said...

It was probably a push poll.

In all likelyhood, the good "professor" had his students read a pre-prepared text outlining all of the supposed greivances that Alberta apparently has with the feds and then asked the question.

It really doesn't matter anyways, as I don't believe that Alberta has the right to seperate. As I understand it, international law recognizes the right of people groups not geographies to self determination. There is nothing cultural, linguistic, religious, historical or ethnic/racial to distinguish Albertans from any other Canadians. A province (geopolitical boundaries drawn on a map) can't seperate. A distinct group of people can.