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Young People Were Excluded
by SARAH-MAUDE LEFEBVRE
Published in the Journal de Montréal, Thursday May 31, 22:44
Original French Text: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2012/05/31/les-jeunes-ont-ete-exclus
Two polls on the Special Law Bill 78 published in the Le Soleil and La Presse dailies underrepresented those aged 18-24. This caused an “important distortion” in the poll’s results.
Certain observers and polling experts, like Pierre Drouilly of l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and blogger-reporter Jean-François Lisée, have in turn criticised the methods used by the polling firm CROP to survey the population about Bill 78.
In the poll, published May 26, only 3% of respondents were aged 18 to 24, whereas that age group represents 11% of the overall population, according to Statistics Canada. This proportion was also present in the poll undertaken the previous week, according to Mr. Lisée.
“This is unacceptable,” says Pierre Drouilly. “It’s an important distortion of reality, particularly when we know that this is the age group principally opposed to the tuition hike and to Bill 78. The sample is therefore not representative.”
The CROP-Le Soleil-La Presse poll, published several hours before the Special Law came into effect, suggested that 66% of respondents were in favour of this measure by the Charest government.
The poll, which was begun in part before the adoption of the law, enraged many activists and was the subject of multiple critiques on the web. Furious, comedian Christian Bégin even published an open letter calling for the population to withdraw their subscriptions from La Presse.
Since then, criticism has continued to rain down on the CROP polling organization. The organization is accused of refusing to allow poll respondents to decline to answer certain questions or to state their positions as “undecided.”
In an interview with the Journal de Montréal yesterday, Alain Giguère, president of CROP, maintained that his firm has “done nothing wrong.”
“Those aged 18-24 were included in the group of respondents aged 18-34, because their demography is not large enough, compared with the rest of the population, to have an impact,” he explained.
He says the polling firm has already recalculated its figures by changing the weight of numbers to better reflect the proportions established by Statistics Canada.
“Nonetheless, the data hasn’t changed. Not even 1%,” he insists.
As for the issue of respondents who were forced to choose a response, Mr. Giguère says this is a “choice” by his company.
“The way we used to do it, by telephone, we never offered people the choice of not responding to the survey. That’s part of the way we do things. Certain people don’t want to think too hard, but we want them to make those connections.” [translator’s note: this final clause is hard to translate. I’ve tried a few options and this feels like the best, but “se brancher” doesn’t have a proper equivalent in English that I can think of.]
Alain Giguère says he “is afraid” of the potential effect the criticisms may have on the population’s trust.
“We have never hidden the limitations of our polls. No matter what the poll, there is always the underrepresentation or the overrepresentation of a group. There’s no such thing as perfect results, so we adjust accordingly.”
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.