Green Party admits 2015 election poll flyer misled Victoria voters

The Green Party of Canada has admitted distributing misleading poll results in the Victoria riding prior to last year’s federal election.

In a compliance agreement with the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the party acknowledges that it delivered 1,200 “erroneous” and “unreliable” flyers door-to-door in target neighbourhoods the day before the Oct. 19 vote.

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The flyer said, “It’s a Two-Way Race — the Choice is Yours Victoria” and purported to release the “latest polling results” showing NDP candidate Murray Rankin leading the Green Party’s Jo-Ann Roberts by a single percentage point.

The party now admits the poll results were intended for internal party use only and that it failed to disclose the survey methodology or its high margin of error — 9.8 per cent.

The party also cherry-picked the results from an Oct. 13 poll even though surveys on subsequent days showed the party’s support slipping, the agreement states.

“The flyer was intended as an invitation for Conservative supporters to vote strategically for the Green Party candidate, whose support, according to the flyer, was within one percentage point of the NDP candidate in Victoria,” the agreement states.

In fact, Rankin easily held the seat for the NDP, defeating the Green candidate by 6,731 votes.

By signing the compliance agreement and agreeing to post its contents, the Greens cannot be prosecuted for offences under the Canada Elections Act unless they violate the deal.

Dr. Emily McMillan, the party’s executive director, acknowledges that faulty flyers were created and approved by the national office. She said that neither she nor other party employees and volunteers had much experience with the publication of survey results.

The compliance agreement also notes that McMillan and her deputy executive director both received emails Oct. 7, 2015 reminding them of information that must be included with published polls, but neither of them read the advisory nor passed it along to party workers.

In a statement posted on its website, the Green Party points out that it co-operated fully with the investigation and admits responsibility for its mistakes.

“As a small, grassroots political party, the Green Party of Canada executed a professional and respectable federal election campaign,” McMillan said in the statement. “We regret this one-time lack of compliance with the Elections Canada Act, and we have put measures in place to ensure full compliance with the act in future.”

lkines@timescolonist.com

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