An independent investigator hired by the Harper government to look into past Liberal polling practices has wound up shining an unfavourable light on the Tories' penchant for polling.
Daniel Paille notes that the Conservative government commissioned more than two polls per business day in the past year, a figure he calls "quite astounding.''
His report shows that the government spent $31.2 million on opinion research in the last year -- more than any previous year and almost twice the $18 million spent on average during the Liberal years.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Paille, a former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, last April to conduct a probe of federal contracts for public opinion research between 1990 and 2003.
The objective was to determine whether a judicial inquiry into the previous Liberal government's polling practices was warranted.
But Paille's report -- which was released Thursday after sitting for two months in the government's hands -- concludes "it would not be worthwhile'' to pursue further in-depth inquiries into public opinion research contracts during that period.
Mark Holland, the Liberals' public works critic, said Harper's intended "partisan witch hunt'' into Grit polling practices has backfired on the Tories.
He said that explains why Fortier sat on the report for two months before finally releasing it late on the same day that all eyes were on former prime minister Brian Mulroney's testimony before the Commons ethics committee.
"Clearly, they didn't want anyone actually paying attention to this report,'' Holland said.
A combination of gall and arrogance, the Conservatives fail to see the obvious pitfalls of a probe, while they are spending money in an unprecedented fashion. In the end, no dirt, a self-inflicted wound, a waste of taxpayer money and the unseemly appearance of hiding the conclusions. Nice job. And we wonder why these characters can't get into majority terrority.