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Will former BC Socred and current BC Liberal spin-man Greg Lyle lend any Innovation to dying mainsteam polling
  Jan 20, 2007

Glen P. Robbins, President and CEO of ROBBINS ASK and ROBBINS Sce Research (1998) asks the BC public to "Do the right thing and stop reading the Vancouver Sun." The establishment media, and in particular this provincial newspaper seems hell bent on recycling old politicians/handlers and hangers-on in order to maintain some sense of continuity of control over the means of production of communication over the public, a circumstance which ROBBINS believes unequivocally is detrimental to the advancement of democracy in the province and in the country. In the matter of Innovative Research, it isn't so much a comment on the principal in the company but rather to point out the history of that principal. These include ties to former polling companies. As Mr. Holman, an excellent BC journalist who hired by Vancouver Sun quit soon thereafter, points out, Mr. Lyle has a long history in BC with the BC Liberal party and current Premier Gordon Campbell. He has received much of his pay from ties to this company. He cannot therefore fairly speak independently of these close connections to public opinion in this province. It is also clearly evident that Mr. Lyle has intermittent connections to other political polling firms of dubious independence. For instance Decima Research is a polling firm owned by a lobby company. Lobbyists work for clients often receiving considerable retainers for their work. If this isn't a conflict of interest I don't know what is. Mr. Lyle has also worked for Angus Reid, arguably the best known public opinion pollster in Canada at one time, but who has a long history and close ties to the federal Liberal party. This is another history of conflict of interest. Bear in mind that in Canada, political parties in power can largely influence through their relationships including those lobbyists the contracts that public opinion firms receive. It's legal, but it always calls into question the validity, the true independence of those public opinion firms. Indeed when I first pointed this out to my friend and associate Jim Van Rassel, he referred to the subject polling firm of this discussion, "a trojan horse" for the political establishment. Indeed, even those mentioned in Mr. Holman's article who are not well known, such as Canadian Alliance candidate of the past, Tom Long, it is important to note that Mr. Long's history is one of the backroom's, in keeping with the history of Mr. Lyle. We do not want to interrupt or frustrate the ability of any of these individuals to earn a living, however we steadfastly believe their living should not be at the continued expense of the public. In the case of the Vancouver Sun, it isn't that we don't believe this is a good newspaper, we simply don't believe it operates with 'clean hands'. For instance we made comments in one of our earlier polls about the 'ressurection' as it were of Mark Marissen, husband of former BC Liberal Christy Clark, who was the chief advisor for former Prime Minister Paul Martin and now has the same role with new Liberal leader Stephane Dion. This is perfectly legal, however politically, we believe, it represents what is wrong with politics in this country. That is, when the old is out (in this case Paul Martin), to be politically viable, the new (allegedly Stephane Dion) being closely connected to Mr. Marissen, and being from Quebec, the home of PowerCorp a company which has longtime influence over former Prime Minister Chretien and other Liberal leaders and politicians, provides enough evidence to suggest that Mr. Dion may not be his own man, that in fact he too is just a recycled 'puppet' of old regimes. Similarly, Prime Minister Harper being quoted in an editorial interview with the Vancouver Sun within the same context of an article written about a poll conducted (by a relatively new polling firm-Innovative) with the ties to others we (and Mr. Holman) have described (a situation my money suggests the PM was likely not aware of), unfortunately connects the PM to an individual and a group with connections to the BC Liberals and to a close advisor to Gordon Campbell, Mr. Lyle. For Mr. Harper's handlers to have allowed this was folly. A high school political campaign in the United States would not have made such an error in judgement. In Canada however we do this all the time. Why? Simply because the means of production wants to control all of the political actors, the political polling, and the influence therein on public opinion, thus ostensibly controlling the entire democratic process and the political industry and the cash that supports it. This is wrong. For this reason we believe newspapers like the Vancouver Sun are anti-democratic, operating in their own interests only, pretending to be a medium of impartial news, when in fact they are a broker of power and advertising revenue, at least in our opinion. In order to show our own good faith in this, I might suggest that it would be less untoward if someone like former PM Brian Mulroney were involved in the public opinion business. I say this because Mr. Mulroney, (who obviously retained old ties to political connections) has been relieved of public influence for some time, indeed throughout the last 10-13 years. It is fairly obvious that it benefits my own polling firm when the old political hacks are dismissed from the scene and new fresh ideas can be brought to the industry. This is one of the main reasons we never connected with the organizations that allegedly oversee conventional and mainstream polling firms. We dont' like the control nor the apparent conflict of interest. You will see the subsequent poll on this BC scroll about conflict of interest. The public hates it, cannot stand it, and wants no part of it. The owners of the means of production do not want to relinquish it because it means a loss of power, influence and cash. We say "too bad". Obviously, we want people to appreciate our public opinion polling, but from the outset we have always said we would be true to our principles and do our very best to articulate true public opinion and to expose the injustices of those who control the money and power to a standard of account which is without compromise. If we are able to accomplish this, naturally we will emerge as a viable entity in a commerical regard. This is how it ought to be. To recycle the same control agents as a crass exercise in greed and power mongering is unjust and wrong. The times they are a changing, or they had better be. The same old, same old isn't working, and those of the past who have benefitted from political ties that are no longer relevant ought to sever their relationships with the political industry and go out and do something else, so the rest of us can have an opportunity to make the world a better place, which continues as our objective at ROBBINS ASK and ROBBINS Sce Research (1998). When we see the emergence of new Presidential hopefuls like Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton (Democrats) soon after our impartial (Canadian) poll of Democrats in the United States, including the pronouncement from respected Washington correspondents like Henry Champ that Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama and (unlikely) candidate possibility Al Gore as three top leadership contenders (prior to the actual aforementioned announcements), we take great pride in this. When we see on our statistic site evidence that some of the best newspapers and media in the world have come to our ROBBINS website we are very proud. We do not manipulate hits or exaggerate claims of attendance to our site, we run this gig au natural. That is the way it ought to be. Naive? Perhaps. But we are confident in our abilities and hope that our readers absorb something new and insightful from reading our polls, or in the alternative, simply conisder us.

Commentary
Shadowy men from a shadowy planet From PUBLIC EYE'S Sean Holman (2004) Public Eye online magazine is owned and operated by BC Legislative reporter Sean Holman
As you may have already heard, Finance Minister Gary Collins and influential backroom boy Pat Kinsella are chairing the provincial Liberal's re-election committee. But who else is beavering away to make sure the party stays in power? That's a question we've been asking party headquarters for the past two months. But the Liberal's executive director Kelly Riechert hasn't return repeated phone calls about the matter. So last week, we got tired of waiting for Mr. Reichert and started asking more talkative folks the same question. And, so far, our investigation has managed to add two more names to that list. Everybody give a big Public Eye welcome to secret advisors Greg Lyle and Jess Ketchum. Greg and Jess, come on down and read your backgrounders!
g Lyle is a principal with Navigator Ltd., a Toronto communications and strategy firm. Mr. Lyle has been involved in politics since 1981, when he was just 18 years old. He met Premier Bill Bennett's then principal secretary Bud Smith in 1984. And two years later, Mr. Lyle became Mr. Smith's body man during the dark prince's bid to win the party leadership.
After that campaign, Mr. Lyle was hired as a field worker for the Socreds, responsible for the province's northern ridings. But opportunity took him to Manitoba in 1987, where he was named executive assistant to Manitoba Progressive Conservative leader Gary Filmon. When an election was called a year later, Mr. Lyle, who was then serving as the leader's campaign secretary, convinced a number of Socred operatives to come work for the Filmon Conservatives. Those operatives included elections day expert Jacee Schaefer. Following that election, the victorious Premier Filmon made Mr. Lyle his principle secretary.
But in 1991, returned to British Columbia, where he was put in charge of managing Socred election campaigns in five Surrey ridings, including the one held by Premier Rita Johnson. Each of those campaigns failed. And the Socreds were thrown out of government by Mike Harcourt's New Democrats.
For the next three years, Mr. Lyle was a vice-president at Hill and Knowlton Canada Inc. and Decima Research Inc., the company's polling arm. Toward the end of that tenure, Mr. Lyle campaigned on behalf of federal Justice Minister and Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Kim Campbell. But after she won that leadership, he is said to have been muscled out of the prime minister's election machine by Ottawa-side handlers. In 1994, Mr. Lyle became a senior research associate with the Angus Reid Group, whose founder taught at the University of Manitoba and had taken a liking to the young up-and-comer. That association lasted a year. At around the same time, he was hired by the provincial Liberals as their election campaign planning director.
In April 1996, Mr. Lyle's involvement with the party became a source of controversy when The Vancouver Sun reported he had been invited to a "national conference of key conservatives," organized by columnist David Frum, to plot the downfall of the Chretien government. Asked for his opinion on that invite, provincial Reform researcher Martyn Brown, who is now Premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff, said it proved "the (British Columbia) Liberals have been captured by former Kim Campbell, Bill Vander Zalm and Rita Johnston strategists (whose) principal agenda is to elect a Conservative government, not a Liberal government."
But, when the ballots were counted, Mr. Lyle, who became the party's campaign manager, wasn't able to do either. He lost the 1996 election and quit his job with the Liberals shortly after. But he continued to do work for the party.
In January 1997, the Liberals got in trouble when it was revealed the party had spent $727,200 in taxpayer-provided caucus funds on a householder attacking the Clark administration. Of that amount, $283,000 went to Gastown Printers Inc., a company owned by one of Mr. Campbell's closest friends and political allies, Jan-Paul Shason. And $5,000 was spent on an untendered consulting contract for Mr. Lyle. His friend, caucus secretary and former Progressive Conservative Youth godfather Stewart Braddick, resigned over the affair. Mr. Braddick now works with Navigator, which was co-founded by Mr. Lyle in 2000.
Mr. Lyle's political resume also includes stints working for Ontario Premier Mike Harris and Canadian Alliance leadership candidate Tom Long, among others. Back in June, Public Eye spies spotted Mr. Lyle in Victoria. When we asked him about what he was doing back in the province, he told us, "I just can't get into what I'm up to. It's client stuff. And if clients want to say what I'm doing then they say what I'm doing." Asked today for comment on this story, he said "I don't talk about the people I work for one way or another." But Public Eye does.
*** Jess Ketchum is president of Ketchum Communications Ltd., a West Vancouver lobbying and public relations firm whose clients have included the Council of Forest Industries and the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council. But before he became a hired political gun, Mr. Ketchum was one of Social Credit's best known operatives.
After the Socreds were elected in 1975, he was named an assistant to Socred cabinet minister Alex Fraser. Mr. Ketchum then went one to become the vice-president of communications for the Expo 86 Corp. But he ended up leaving that position before the fair got underway. In 1990, he was hired as the Socred's director of operations. He also became a member of the their election readiness committee, along with Mr. Kinsella. That committee was chaired by Premier Bill Vander Zalm's principal secretary Jerry Lampert, who is now president of the Business Council of British Columbia. When Mr. Lampert quit the committee in 1991, having already resigned from the premier's office, Mr. Ketchum took over his job and eventually became the party's election campaign manager. He also convinced Mr. Lyle to return to British Columbia and work on the 1991 election.
convinced Mr. Lyle to return to British Columbia and work on the 1991 election. That election reduced the Socreds to seven seats in the legislature. Mr. Ketchum sat out the 1996 election. But after that, Vancouver Sun gossip columnist Malcolm Parry spotted him schmoozing with the Liberals. And in 2001, he was instrumental in winning the election for that party along with Mr. Kinsella, sitting on their election committee.
Mr. Ketchum has also been a consultant to Great Canadian Railtour Co. and is friends with the company's chief executive officer Peter Armstrong. In September 2004, Canadian National Railway Co. announced Great Canadian had been selected to operate tourist trains on its newly-acquired British Columbia Rail routes. Mr. Ketchum does not sit on the company's board of directors nor is he an executive officer.
Mr. Riechert did not return repeated phone calls from Public Eye placed yesterday specifically asking about this story. Mr. Ketchum is currently out of the country.

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