The Nisga'a Treaty: Polling Dynamics and Political Communication in Comparative Context
Published: May 2006© 2006
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 208 Pages
Dimensions: 5.97 x 8.83
208 Pages, 5.97 x 8.83 x 0.47 in
The Nisga'a Treaty presents an inside story of the socio-political dynamics behind the massive polling and advertising campaign through which the Government of British Columbia "sold" the Nisga'a Treaty to British Columbians. A complementary chapter on the polling done on the Aboriginal reconciliation issue in Australia provides further international context. J. Rick Ponting's research draws from archival sources, stunningly frank Freedom of Information documents, and lengthy interviews with bureaucratic and political elites.
This book has two purposes: to contribute to the understanding of an important event in the history of relations between government and Indigenous people in British Columbia and Australia, and to contribute to an understanding of the dynamics of public opinion polling in all its phases. The book explores the processes of marketing government policy to the public, which is to say, the shaping of public opinion. Accordingly, it speaks directly to the basic democratic issue of whether governments should lead, follow, or ignore public opinion on important policy issues.
- "It's One of the Things I Never Know If I Should Put On My Resumes": The Political Climate
- "Like Shovelling Money Off the Back of a Truck"
- "It's Not About Politics": The Ad Campaign up Close
- Questionnaire Construction and Content
- The Polling Results and Their Use
- Gatekeeping, Analysis, and Interpretation of the Data in the Inner Circle
- Processing Public Opinion on Reconciliation in Australia
- Summary and Conclusion
Postscript: The Impact of the Nisga'a Treaty in Northwestern British Columbia
J. Rick Ponting provides a well documented and analytical comparative piece, detailing the processing of public opinion of the Nisga'a Treaty in British Columbia and the official reconciliation process by political powers in Australia. More broadly, this work speaks to the intersection between public opinion polling and issues related to democratic politics and leadership. Specifically, it poses some key questions: how should government use public opinion polling and should it be responsive to it or lead and shape it? Canadian Ethnic Studies
This insightful and informative book takes the reader inside the workings of government, warts and all, at a historic moment in British Columbia. The selling of policy is part of what governments do in the modern communication age. This carefully researched book takes one inside the British Columbia government's controversial efforts to convince the public of the merits of the Nisga'a treaty. Government scholars and citizens alike should read this book—its tells a good story and informs at the same time.Doug McArthur, Professor and Distinguished Fellow in the Graduate Public Policy Program, Simon Fraser University
This is a well-written and accessible account of the polling and communications that went on behind the adoption of the Nisga'a Treaty in British Columbia and the work of Australia's Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Rick Ponting's book is thoroughly researched and vividly written. It provides a unique blend of attention to the day-to-day details and broader analysis. The author makes extensive and very effective use of interviews with senior politicians. This book is essential for anyone interested in how policy makers use public opinion and polls. Rick Ponting's focus on justice for aboriginals gives his book a moral force that is refreshing.Francois Petry, Universite Laval
Ponting introduces the reader to the 'backstage' of public opinion polling, and, in so doing, delivers an engaging narrative on the social and political factors that influence the gathering of public opinion. This narrative offers a seldom viewed, but nonetheless important, window into the Nisga'a treaty as well as the broader project of Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal reconciliation that gives insight into the politics of historical repair.Andrew Wollford, University of Manitoba