Pro-oil ‘citizens group’ flip flops on its robo-calling of BC voters

British Columbians for Prosperity admits to polling about resource development and how people will vote federally.  The society said it is funded by corporations, but won't disclose which ones.

British Columbians for Prosperity montage robocalls Vancouver Observer
A pro-oil and resource-development group called “British Columbians for Prosperity” (BC4P) did an about-face Tuesday, after it was asked to respond to claims that it was polling Vancouver residents about federal voting intentions, and the Northern Gateway pipeline.

After some probing, the group revealed it is now polling more than 1,000 residents, province-wide with robocalls.
 
But that was not the story to begin with.  
 
The self-described “citizens group” -- which says it is “not a political organization” -- originally told the Vancouver Observer it was not asking residents about their political party affiliations.  However, several residents reported otherwise.
 
“If an election were held today, who would you vote for?” Vancouver resident Neal Jennings recalled being asked by a computerized telephone voice on Monday.  
 
“Then… they explicitly said the leader of the parties – it was Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth May, and Thomas Mulcair,” he said.
 
The group’s executive director – retired oil executive Bruce Lounds – vehemently denied the voter polling when asked about it early Tuesday morning.
 
“That’s absolutely not true.  I can tell you that flat out,” said Lounds“We’re polling about Northern Gateway and general resource development.  It’s for our own internal use, to develop campaigns, or to provide information to people.” 
 
But by Tuesday afternoon, when asked to explain the difference in stories, the group’s communications representative – Alise Mills – sent an e-mail stating:
 
“We also asked about people’s voting intention – if an election were held today which party they would vote for.”  
 
“We think there is a myth that development is a left-wing versus right-wing issue – and we wanted to dig into this,” wrote Mills.
 
“Canadians and British Columbians like natural resource development.  They just are not 100 per cent [supportive] on Northern Gateway."

Ironically, Public Relations juggernaut Jim Hoggan received one of the robo-calls.
 
“Yeah – one of those things came up on my cell phone,” laughed Hoggan.
 
Jim Hoggan Climate Cover Up Author
 
The Vancouver-based author wrote a well-known book on PR tactics employed by big oil companies to deny climate change.  He said British Columbians for Prosperity appears to be an industry front group.  
 
“If you don’t think it’s a front group for industry, then you’re not paying much attention,” he said. 
 
Hoggan added he was surprised that such a group would poll about voting intentions. 
 
“This is the kind of stuff we wrote about in Climate Cover Up that has been fine tuned by right-wing American think tanks.”
 
“Just as you can pollute the natural environment – you can pollute public conversations.  It undermines public trust in public discourse.  It’s just polarizing for the sake of partisanship." 
 
Mills countered that British Columbians for Prosperity has no relation to a similar-sounding Americans for Prosperity think tank.  She added her group is not funded by the U.S. Koch brother billionaires and is not pushing heavy oil development in particular.  

She also made this correction of her director: “the survey did not ask any questions about Enbridge.”

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