January 12, 2011

Oilsands "Split" Saskatchewan?

There may be a reason that the Star Phoenix's Jeanette Stewart's report on Saskatchewan support for the oilsands from last week reads less like a polling result than it does a math quiz. Readers who tried to decipher the numbers provided would have noticed a glaring omission - the complete polling results.

Well, now is the time at SDA when we juxtapose!

Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Jan. 4, 2011;

Despite alarm bells raised recently over toxins spewed from Alberta's oilsands into Saskatchewan, results of a recent survey indicate one-quarter of the province's residents support oilsands development.

The results of a survey performed by Sigma Analytics for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Regina Leader-Post show 24.9 per cent of respondents "strongly support" oilsands development in the province. But those who caution against this type of development see a different picture in the survey numbers.

"If you didn't really know much about the issue, sure, why wouldn't you support it?" said Ann Coxworth, research adviser for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) and author of a report titled Carbon Copy: Preventing Oilsands Fever in Saskatchewan.

"I think the fact that 23 per cent of people are opposed or strongly opposed is a fairly high level of opposition," she added. "Over 50 per cent of the respondents have some reservations about it . . . which I think is significant."

From the now-released Sigma Analytics poll, January 11th;


That's quite the "split". But no matter - Stewart's misleading report was regurgitated, unquestioned, by news outlets across the country. Mission accomplished.

Posted by Kate at January 12, 2011 1:06 AM


Mushy Simpleton Mastications

Posted by: trappedintrudeaupia at January 12, 2011 12:13 AM

Activists are selectively bad at math & statistics.

Posted by: ChrisinMB at January 12, 2011 12:16 AM

Yeah, that 21% in the fourth column mysteriously disappears. I hope that's not the quality of statistics they teach in journalism school. :(

Is there any way we can vote journalists out of their position? I know of a few who would be looking for work.

They'd be sure to find new jobs, given they're that good at spinning the truth....

Posted by: antelope at January 12, 2011 12:26 AM

I wouldn't be so sure it was unquestioned. They just didn't bother to change the answers or enlighten their readers.

Posted by: ward at January 12, 2011 12:40 AM

The way I read that chart is over 75% of the people of Saskatchewan have some support for the development of the oil sands, and they never asked me.

Posted by: Louise at January 12, 2011 12:43 AM

Carbon Copy: Preventing Oilsands Fever in Saskatchewan

Absolutely marketable tittle. Bullshit premise...but that's the point. No?

Posted by: syncrodox at January 12, 2011 12:43 AM

So is Jeannette Stewart also moonlighting for CBC?

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at January 12, 2011 12:45 AM

Just don't spend a cent on the dinosaur tablets. You might just as well ask Bill Clinton for fidelity advice, or Jack Layton for hockey advice, or Kinsella for his favorite Chinese food diner, you will get just as accurate info as any MSM drivel. This monster will thrash around for a good long while in its death throes, but a little spike in interest rates will be the end to these purveyors of lies and distortions and all things liberal.

Posted by: bartinsky at January 12, 2011 12:57 AM

One question: Can I make good money on 'em?

Posted by: Erik Larsen at January 12, 2011 1:29 AM

wow. regurgitate your way to success.

just like the edjukashun cystem in ontari-ari-ario.

you people really hate liberals eh?

Posted by: beagle at January 12, 2011 4:04 AM

The Prime Minister and Mr. Kent praised the Canadian oil sands as a source of ethical oil late last week. The G&M was in a panic about it too. The comments were frenzied.

Ezra Levants' idea, to put the country of origin on the gas pump so that the consumer knows where the oil is from, is an excellent one too. Country of origin is on absolutely everything. Why not gas? Buy Canadian!

Posted by: concrete at January 12, 2011 5:57 AM

since I'm a welder and a Power Engineer
and plan on staying with my cousins in Sask
FU you idiot tree hugger s
BTW wind generators kill more birds than the oil sands ever have
jerk off douchenozzles

Posted by: dwright at January 12, 2011 7:08 AM

never fear... i understand the big 3 automakers are working
on a new vehicle that runs on rainbows & unicorn farts.


Posted by: neo at January 12, 2011 7:09 AM

So, reading the poll results and splitting the mugwumps in the middle to equal advantage, 61.4% favour development, with 15.3% susceptible to being swayed either way, so those in favour could be as high as 76.7% or as low as 46.1. Still a lot more than 25%...

Posted by: Skip at January 12, 2011 7:19 AM

Who better to write such an article than an expert in the field of "spewing"?

Posted by: glasnost at January 12, 2011 7:23 AM

Maybe a simple Do you support YES--NO would be the way to go.Although the lefties like to have all the BS in between to manipulate as they wish.Next time a poll of this nature surfaces go directly to five or 1 and forget the in between MSM BS numbers.

Posted by: bert at January 12, 2011 7:40 AM

Gee, lying with figures from the MSM. How... expected.

Posted by: The Phantom at January 12, 2011 8:08 AM

Send your native Son's and Daughter's to Alberta.
Don't forget to turn out the light's.

Posted by: doug at January 12, 2011 8:12 AM

Wow. Unbelievable.

They really are shameless, aren't they?.

Posted by: Norman at January 12, 2011 8:19 AM

Wonder if she was bought off with some of that American money flowing in via Tides Canada - as has been well documented by Vivian/Rethink Campaigns to fight the Oil Sands?

Wouldn't be the first time a "journalist" took a bribe to spin the results.

Posted by: Fred at January 12, 2011 8:19 AM

Misleading, my ass. The article was an outright lie.

Posted by: Woodporter at January 12, 2011 8:44 AM

If it weren't for lies they would have no truth.

Posted by: Speedy at January 12, 2011 9:00 AM

Funny that comments aren't allowed on that article.

Posted by: grok at January 12, 2011 9:45 AM

The criticism should not be directed to the reporter. What she wrote is all accurate. She can't change the quote of Ann Coxworth because that would be dishonest. Perhaps you are not aware that headlines are not written by the reporter. You should be taking up your quarrel with him or her for their laziness to check polling results and reliance on the accuracy of the environmentalist's quote. (I would hope that the reporter did challenge the environmentalist in the interview though.)

In a similar vein, I recently read a story about HSAS polling released. After reading the entire poll (published on the HSAS web site) I thought it odd that no one did a more critical review of its findings, much less the premise of some of the questions even. I have yet to see any employee poll where employees say they are not overworked and understaffed! In any discipline. Ever.

Posted by: mmm at January 12, 2011 9:54 AM

Yay, Kate! Ezra's promoting this on his blog and Facebook. I don't have the twitter, so I can't speak to that.

Posted by: Another Calgary Marc at January 12, 2011 10:06 AM

I read the article and I noted the gaps and inconsistencies in numbers and the large amount of negative comment about oil sand development. I also noted the organizations that were quoted and felt that they wouldn't have an objective view. In the end I knew that the article was slanted and hoped that somewhere someone would come up with the real numbers.

But I was really PO'e that such a piece of propeganda would be passed off as an objective report. It should have been accompanied by a conflict of interest disclosure.

Thanks Kate.

Posted by: rroe at January 12, 2011 10:24 AM

Stick & move, stick & move.
Since there are no consequences, why bother presenting the truth, when your truest fans 'can't handle the truth'? Most of us who at times have had the urge to 'fudge the numbers' or mislead the customer would quickly be reprimanded by our employers if we attempted such a thing. Since there is no desire from the journalist's employers to properly serve the customer, there are no consequences for such poor work. When you complain to a manager at your local retailer, how that manager responds to your complaint will likely determine if you return or not. Often, good service after a complaint will ensure that customer returns, and the opposite goes without saying.

So, now that I've have divulged this long kept secret to business and customer service, I expect that we shall see improvements from the MSM regarding this issue./sarc

In the end, I'm not sure what the value of misleading the public at the expense of your reputation is, considering the likelihood of such articles having any tangible effect on the issue is negligible. It's clear, regardless of the spin, that Saskatchewan is warm to the Oil Sands development; and as I said on other threads with regards to unemployment, no matter how you cook the numbers it has no bearing in reality on what the folks think about the issue.

So what gives?

My dad told me "I don't care if you lie to me, just don't lie to yourself".

This is good advice.

It seems to me that in most cases now, the MSM's only concern is appeasing their truest fans: themselves.

Posted by: Indiana Homez at January 12, 2011 10:37 AM

Hasn't this old biddy Coxworth done enough yet to try to keep this province in the dark ages?
Btw, where's Peter Prebble? You'd expect him to be spouting off too.
Quite tiresome, really.

Posted by: Snagglepuss at January 12, 2011 10:46 AM

Notice the photo accompanied with the Star-Phoenix feature of Jan. 04-2011. The stacks at Fort Mac's Syncrude facility appear to be spewing tons of CO2 (etc.) in the air when in fact, 99% of the visible emmission is steam.

That's a CBC and other enviro-geek's favorite to show steaming stacks at minus 40C. They often show footage of the stack at the SPC facility in Coronach, Sk. one of the tallest in the province. Yet on a warm day, there is zero visible emmissions coming from that stack. If you boil a tea kettle at minus 40, the vapour will be quite visible.

Another favorite is footage of melting icebergs and polar bears that appear to be disoriented, when in fact they're just upset at having the CBC invade their space.

Posted by: Jack Frosst at January 12, 2011 10:49 AM

Good line from your dad Indie; every person deserves a job, it creates pride in most, excepting the business of journalism, where a job promotes self loathing and animosity toward those who create every day, the very commodities that journalists need. Saskatchewan needs to develop their natural resources for ther future prosperity, the ag sector has been beaten down so bad the only hope is for commodities, don't believe the people funded by tides. Where is the outrage in media over the flooded lands James Bay hydro Quebec, Canadas favorite welfare bum? Better yet, where are the royalty payments to Canada from that project?

Posted by: bartinsky at January 12, 2011 10:53 AM

Cheating with statistics is a common stunt:

You just have to keep an eye on the pea under the shell.

Posted by: PaulH at January 12, 2011 11:00 AM

This looks exactly like the Canadian Wheat Board producer survey's. When you add it all up most farmers don't want the wheat board to be their only choice but the boards survey slices and dices the results and then the media only reports on one of the slices.

Posted by: Farmer Joe at January 12, 2011 11:11 AM

Notice how Coxworth states that the people in support of oilsands development are only in support of it because they don't understand

Posted by: johnboy at January 12, 2011 11:13 AM

I don't think it matters anymore. The Greens increase the costs for little benefit. No company I have ever invested in had a bad environmental record. It's a upcoming liability I don't want.
The same story for safety.
When the time comes we will develop the resource. We will learn from Alberta as they are the leaders of recovery on that scale. There will not be pits, it will be injection or what ever is best when we start.
To the trolls, get that looked at, it looks cancerous.

Posted by: Speedy at January 12, 2011 11:15 AM

Public opinion polls, especially those used as an indicator of voter intentions, are a major tool employed by the media to sway the people.

Over the years, I have had a few back and forths with Chantal Hebert over skewed media polls. In the end she really could not defend the media's use of tainted poll results to further the media's agenda - so she blocked/dumped my emails.

And I consider Chantal as one of our better MSM journalists.

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at January 12, 2011 11:32 AM

Did she think that normal intelligent people would overlook her bias and spin? Ezra tells it like it is: (Not that Kate doesn't..)

I'm clairvoyant: Jeanette Stewart has at one point -- or will someday -- work for the CBC.

Posted by: Simon at January 12, 2011 11:40 AM

'are a major tool employed by the media to sway the people.'

But do they sway people? That is the question. I can definitely see why the Left would expect public opinion to be swayed by polls, considering that stepping outside the 'community' with respect to opinions and such is frowned upon by the Left. But I truly wonder if average folks are so concerned with 'keeping-up with the Jones's' that they have no opinion of their own. All of that said, I do see how the fear of being ostracized can deter someone from sharing their politically incorrect views; but, I expect that they vote differently in private.

Are there any numbers that demonstrate that this skewing of information is effective?

Posted by: Spindiana Homez at January 12, 2011 11:42 AM

On reading the Star Phoenix report, my first question was ,"why in hell are the people of Sask against the oil sands development"?

Turns out they aren't,and again the MSM has successfully conveyed an outright lie to their readers.

Looks like 75% of folks in Sask want the development, but that story will never make it to the people who don't peruse the internet.

Ethical journalism,is that a contradiction?

Posted by: dmorris at January 12, 2011 12:08 PM

Beagle.. I don't hate "liberals" it is their bullshit socialist ideas that I have no time for.

Posted by: Rob C at January 12, 2011 12:13 PM

The media can and do influence voters BIG time!!

Take away the Canadian media and the LPC as we know it would never win another election.

How many people do you know who conduct their lives 'on-the-right' yet watch The National and then vote for Utopia as will be delivered by the 'what-can-go-wrong' latte liberals ? I know many of them.

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at January 12, 2011 12:15 PM

The way I see it.
23.2% oppose development, Saskawhinners.
30.6% are neutral.
46.1% support development, Saskawinners.

By almost two to one the Saskawinners are thinking about growing Saskatchewan. The 30.6% could care less as their glass is neither half full nor half empty.

The MSM, why let the facts get in the way of spreading their BS message.

Posted by: Swill at January 12, 2011 12:23 PM

That's how partisan punditry is done. Tell half the story.

Posted by: rabbit at January 12, 2011 12:31 PM

Can anybody comprehend why anybody involved in Saskatchewan's political scene would actively deny the province becoming better off economically? It not only flies in the face of pragmatism but also shines a light on the ideology that serves as the Left's base--"keep the people poor and we will be their masters"

Posted by: favill at January 12, 2011 12:32 PM

If Coxworth feels justified in combining the I and the 2 to get 23% then she should combine the 4 with the 5 and get the number 46%.
Coxworth is not an "advisor" she is a manipulator of numbers and people should be made aware of that.

Posted by: Peter B at January 12, 2011 12:53 PM

Thank you Kate!


Posted by: Eric Anderson at January 12, 2011 1:01 PM

There's far more in this than just Coxworth's deceptions about adding supporters and opponents. mmm is right; the reporter is the last and least villain in this.

The poll itself is distorted. The question on the oil sands only comes after a string of questions that get the subject to think about Saskatchewan's environmental problems. The sequence of the questions predisposes the responses to be negative. Do the same poll with a set of questions in front of it on economic development, growth, jobs and the economy and you will get entirely different results.

What you are seeing here is an object lesson in how a skilled pollster produces the answers a client wants. With the right string of questions, a skilled pollster can produce just about any result desired. You only get a clean answer to this question if you start off with a raw question about support or opposition before you've put any other thoughts in the respondent's mind.

What is surprising to me is how high the support was even after this heavily biased poll. And don't blame Coxworth for her distortions either. She's just spinning what the newspaper gave her. ANY reporter knows what Coxworth will say on any given issue. The real villain is the S-P which decided to interview her to the exclusion of anyone else.

This is a pure hatchet job by the S-P. Remember, they commissioned this in the first place. The reporter is of no consequence; she's just the witless tool that put down the paper's editorial position. Mere reporters don't commission biased polls on behalf of the newspaper. If you are looking for villains, look to the publisher and editor.

All that this piece proves is that all too many of you have been suckered by the S-P.

Posted by: cgh at January 12, 2011 2:08 PM

The lamestream media and environmentalists form an unholy alliance on a great many issues. The result is a steady stream of lies being fed to the public. Thanks to the Internet and the ability it gives people to uncover the truth for themselves, the end result of this alliance is outright mistrust of both environmentalists and the lamestream media. They just don't get it. They think we are stupid but we are not.

I just finished reading Ezra Levant's book on ethical oil. I highly recommend it.

Posted by: JMD at January 12, 2011 2:09 PM

On a scale of 1 to 5, 3 almost always equals "Don't care/don't know." Attempting to co-opt those who are not participating in the debate as your supporters reeks of desperation.

Posted by: JSchuler at January 12, 2011 2:49 PM

On a scale of 1 to 5, 3 almost always equals "Don't care/don't know."

Fine, lets stipulate for the sake of argument that the "don't knows" be removed from the equation because they have no opinion.

That leaves 23.2 opposed to developing the Sask oilsands and 46.1 supporting development.

People who do know, support development by a ratio of 2:1 over people who are against development.

Happy now?
Have a nice day.

Posted by: Oz at January 12, 2011 3:13 PM

The environmental "expert" quoted in the story uses the 'don't care/don't know' figure to enhance her argument. I'll go with jschuler above, reeks of desperation. As does the cheap shot about those in favour not knowing anything about the issue.

The estimable cgh does an excellent job of eviscerating both the story and the survey it's based on. But, I'm not inclined to cut Ms. Stewart, the reporter, any slack unless she was given specific direction about what to write and who to interview (and not interview). When your expert sums up numbers in the survey to make her point, it is only "fair and balanced" to include the complete breakdown in your story. Normally intelligent readers are going to notice the omission.

Posted by: BJG at January 12, 2011 5:20 PM

Thank you, BJG. My comment was primarily in response to the quote "Over 50 per cent of the respondents have some reservations about it . . . which I think is significant." Although a couple people here lapsed into the same tactic, but I think they were simply being cute with Coxworth's (il)logic.

Posted by: JSchuler at January 12, 2011 6:05 PM

BJG, I would only note that Stewart is a 20-something pinhead. Junior reporters don't tackle a story like this in any major newspaper without a fairly heavy hand from the editor. The survey itself, given what these things cost, would have been commissioned and approved much higher up the insect food chain. Also note that it was commissioned by both newspapers, S-P and Leader-Post. That certainly means this was a project initiated by the Publishers and Editors of both newspapers.

As for Coxworth, she's a volunteer with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society. She has a background in adult education and has no expertise whatsoever related to the topic at hand.

I strongly agree with you that this reeks of desperation. Given such a loaded survey, even she had trouble finding anything helpful to the eco-freaks' cause in this one.

The question I find interesting is simply this: why are the L-P and the S-P opposed to oil sands development in Saskatchewan?

Posted by: cgh at January 12, 2011 6:24 PM

Good question cgh.
Why are the local papers so opposed to oil sands development in Saskatchewan?
They have revealed their bias. They have also revealed their detachment from views of the bulk of the Saskatchewan population. I ask all to bear that in mind during the leadup to the November elections.

Posted by: rroe at January 12, 2011 7:13 PM

Has anyone noticed that the Star Phoenix has moved even further Left recently? This paper is horrid reading even on a good day!

Posted by: Sparky at January 12, 2011 7:20 PM

JMD, yes, Ezra's book is a good read. I am about halfway through my signed copy.

cgh, thank you for the explanation. If Coxworth had her way we would be living in caves eating grass, using candles for light and warmth and all be unemployed or working for the state.

Sparky, you are right. I had a subscription to the Star Phoenix for many years, but canceled a few years ago as it supports all the PC crap that there is these days. This is just another example.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at January 12, 2011 7:37 PM

Well said favill @ 12:32:
"Can anybody comprehend why anybody involved in Saskatchewan's political scene would actively deny the province becoming better off economically? It not only flies in the face of pragmatism but also shines a light on the ideology that serves as the Left's base--"keep the people poor and we will be their masters"

What you said is 'it' in a nutshell.

Even the followers of the muddy culvert and his gang are not stupid enough to vote against prosperity. They have their pensions to think about!! Who will fund their 'golden years' if not $$ from the province? Out in Sask. the people know that the east will not 'help' out because Quebec comes first. All old dippers are not self destructive; they want their 'entitlements' and the poverty of Dipper guments would mean less $$ for them to spend in the sunny south.

Posted by: Jema 54 at January 12, 2011 8:43 PM

Some folks can't help but hate others succeeding, either personally or as a State or Province.
Myself I throw a great big God bless you at Saskatchewan for having the balls to cut its vampires away into the sunlight so that their birth right is not crushed under the heels of the greedy envious.
By becoming rich they make us all better off. Something no Dipper can imagine.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at January 12, 2011 8:44 PM

Well, jschuler, it turns out that I also misread your original post. My reference to reeking was a snarky crack at your "stupid" comment. My bad.

I've learned the lesson of failing to comprehend before. Hopefully, this time It'll stick.

Perhaps one of the Saskatchewan regulars will ask the two newspapers cgh's excellent question.

Posted by: BJG at January 12, 2011 10:07 PM

Speaking of the Star-Phoenix, a couple of days ago I was in the service station I normally take my car to for a little problem that was a quick fix. I sat in their waiting area for no more than four or five minutes. Normally, they have a copy of the SP in the waiting area for their customers to read.

There was a woman sitting beside me reading the Star-Phoenix and I swear it was tabloid sized. I didn't see any other sections lying around, so I don't know if the bit she was reading was a "special" insert or if the whole paper has shrunk.

If the later, then whoopie. One more old media of the leftie hue is slowly sinking into the sunset.

Posted by: Louise at January 13, 2011 4:00 AM