Letter to Editor, Metro News – RE: “Survey Shows Support For Shutting City Occupy Camps”

2 Nov

RE: Survey shows support for shutting City Occupy Camps

Source: Metro Calgary

Good evening honorable Council, members of the media, and citizens of Calgary.

Early this afternoon, the Calgary Metro News posted an online article discussing a recent survey conducted by Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart. In this survey, the honorable alderman asked for public opinion regarding shutting down the city’s Occupy Camps.

The results sound frightening for the movement and supporters alike: 871 responders were surveyed in all, with 71 per cent believing a group of “mostly young activists” at Olympic Plaza should be removed immediately. 57 per cent of respondents supported moving the “mostly homeless group” of occupiers off St. Patrick’s Island.

My friends, colleagues, supporters and opposition, I hope to show you another side of the same coin.

Thanks to the efforts of the honorable Alderman, I learned that Calgary has more than one ward. We have fourteen, in fact. Thanks to her efforts, I learned how numbers can be made to present vastly different stories.

As of July 2010, the city census shows a total population of 1,071,515 fair citizens. Applied to the results of the honorable Alderman’s survey, the “support” is a respective 618 and 496. Ladies and gentlemen, members of council, that is 0.0576% and 0.0463%, respectively.

I also learned, thanks to the honorable Alderman’s efforts, the population count for all wards as of the July 2010 dataset. In Ward 13, the population was 79,467. Applied to the survey, the results are 0.778% and 0.624%, respectively.

Ladies and gentlemen, these numbers are clear. While it can be argued that this survey was merely a sampling of public opinion, what is not disclosed is the representation by ward. As an esteemed member of Council, the honorable Alderman has omitted a key piece of information.

What the survey does show, ladies and gentlemen, is that there may be a significant list of reasons why turnout was so low ranging from apathy, inaccessibility and literacy to quiet support, undecided opinion, or simply a lack of awareness such events were occurring.

I call on the press to withdraw their bold headline “Survey Shows Support” and represent the facts in a more accurate light. It is to the press we will turn in times of disaster and crisis; let us hope that such misinformation is not prevalent when we will need it most.

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