Back in July, BC Political Insider, a newsletter published by government relations consultants Brad Zubyk and Ian Jessop, reported the provincial New Democrats had put out a request for proposal to find an election campaign pollster. And it looks like that search is over. In an interview Friday, party secretary Gerry Scott confirmed that contract was recently awarded to Viewpoints Research Ltd. and IdeaWorks Consulting Inc., beating out Vancouver/Toronto-based Strategic Communications Inc. Mr. Scott refused to comment further on that decision. Public Eye has prepared the following backgrounders on the two winning firms.
Viewpoints Research is a Winnipeg-based polling company co-founded in 1986 by the late Dave Gotthilf. Mr. Gothilf was instrumental in helping the New Democrats win the 1991 provincial election. After that election, the company became government's principal pollster, being awarded $1.1 million in contracts between fiscal 1997/98 and 2000/01. It also has a close connection with NOW Communications Group Inc., whose president Ron Johnson had a 20-year relationship with Mr. Gotthilf. That relationship dated back to when the two were Young New Democrats together.
Viewpoints is currently co-owned by Manitoba premier Gary Doer's wife Ginny Devine and Leslie Turnbull, a former senior bureaucrat with Mr. Doer's government. Ms. Turnbull couldn't (or perhaps wouldn't) say how much business the company currently does in Lotusland. But we do know its clients include the British Columbia Federation of Labour. In 2002, Winnipeg Sun city columnist Tom Brodbeck reported business was booming at ViewPoints, allowing the Doer couple to purchase a "smashing, two-storey, 3,376 sq. ft. home" located in a posh neighborhood.
IdeaWorks Consulting is a management company, incorporated in April 2002, whose directors include former senior New Democrat government staffers John Horgan, Ian Reid and John Heaney, among others. Mr. Horgan was Premier Dan Miller's chief of staff and is now seeking his party's nomination in Malahat-Juan de Fuca.
Mr. Reid worked as the executive director of research and strategic planning (translation: public opinion polling) in the New Democrat's government policy and communications office, which is now known as the public affairs bureau. After leaving government, he did a stint as the Western Coast Environmental Law Society's communication director. Mr. Reid is friends with Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell. And he worked closely with Geoff Meggs, Premier Glen Clark's communications director and Mr. Campbell's executive assistant.
Mr. Heaney was Mr. Reid's deputy minister at the government policy and communications office. Before taking that job, he worked as a communications consultant, stickhandling the Bingogate scandal and the New Democrat's $7 million advertising campaign to sell the Nisga'a treaty.
The issues management lead at the government policy and communications office, Nancy Thompson, is also with IdeaWorks. And so is Mary O'Donoghue, who worked as the Coalition of Progressive Electors' election day manager during the last Vancouver civic campaign and was the New Democrat's caucus research director.