Metadata Suggests Another Anti-Abortion Activist May Be Involved With The Secretive Parental Rights Poll

CTV has connected the poll on abortion rights to ProLife Alberta and Blue Direct, a conservative call centre. Metadata suggests another anti-abortion activist had a hand in the report.

Hazel Woodrow
Canadian Anti-Hate Network 


person using smartphoneSource: Unsplash


Correction: A previous version of this story suggested that Campaign Life Coalition posted a report based on the parental right's poll on or around February 1st, before it was public. We did research, but ultimately misinterpreted, how Google ascribes dates to its search results and made an error on that basis. To be clear, we have no evidence to suggest that Campaign Life Coalition had any foreknowledge of the poll. This error appeared online for fewer than three hours. We care deeply about journalistic ethics, which is why we are addressing this quickly, comprehensively, and transparently. We genuinely apologize for the mistake.

On February 1, the day after Premier Danielle Smith’s announcement of sweeping policies restricting the rights and medical care of transgender youth in the province, 6,047 Albertans picked up a mysterious robocall. The survey asked one question: “Should parental rights include parental consent for a minor child seeking an abortion?”

CTV Calgary has released a new report which states the polling firm responsible, National Public Research Canada (NPRC), is one of "several registered operating names belonging to Blue Direct, a Calgary-based, conservative-oriented calling house specializing in direct voter contact." The report also states that Richard Dur, the principal of Blue Direct, serves as the volunteer executive director of ProLife Alberta.

The calls came from a number attached to NPRC, a group with no website and sparse details, which, according to media reports, had previously refused to identify the voter contact firm under which it is a subsidiary. 

According to press releases by NPRC the results were first published on February 5. 

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Metadata (data within a file which includes information about that file) attached to the PDF shows that it was created on February 2, 2024 at 6:37 PM EST on Canva, a free and subscription-based graphic design tool, by a user called “alissagolob” — three days before the reported release of the results. 

Screenshot of metadata attached to the PDF included in the NPRC press releaseScreenshot of metadata attached to the PDF included in the NPRC press release

Based on metadata, the file appears to be identical to the one embedded through file hosting site Scribd in CTV Calgary’s reporting of the results on February 5, as well as the one sent via a press release issued by NPRC from an Outlook email address.

Alissa Golob is the Executive Director of RightNow, an anti-abortion group dedicated to getting anti-abortion politicians elected by working within existing political structures. 

An earlier report published by CTV Calgary on February 2, as well as the updated version of the February 5 article, quotes Golob talking about the poll and saying that it makes sense and is “logically consistent” to include abortion rights of minors in the “parental rights” discussion. Neither the CTV Calgary reports from February 2 or February 5 attribute the poll or PDF to Golob or RightNow. 

The updated February 5 article from CTV Calgary calls the details of the company behind the poll into question. 

“The company behind a new poll on parental rights in Alberta for minors seeking abortions is refusing to disclose information about itself, casting doubt on the veracity of the survey,” the article now reads.

“Two reputable pollsters say they haven't heard of the company.”

The call introduced the issue by asserting “Decisions regarding minor children, such as medical treatments, piercings or tattoos, the use of tanning beds, or even the administration of Advil at school, all require the consent of parents. Minors do not, however, require the consent of their parents to get an abortion in Alberta. Nor is it required for parents to even be notified about their minor child' s abortion.”

Many concerned X users compared notes on their experiences receiving the polling call, with some referring to a Hamilton Spectator article from 2014 identifying “National Public Research Canada [as] a subsidiary of voter contact firm PrimeContact Group.” 

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network reached out to PrimeContact Inc. for comment and was directed towards a statement issued by the firm, which denounces the poll. “It is our opinion that CTV has irresponsibly published findings from a highly dubious source, identified as ‘National Public Research Canada,’ a ‘company’ with absolutely no ties to our organization, Canadian National Public Research,” the statement reads.

“We categorically refute any association with this poll and cast serious doubt on the existence and ethical standards of the so-called ‘National Public Research Canada.’”

An emailed press release viewed by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network says that 6,047 Albertans responded to the robocall, and that nearly half allegedly said they believed “Parental notification and consent should be required for a minor to undergo an abortion procedure.”

When reached for comment by email, an unnamed representative from NPRC told CAHN, "The information we collect is typically not intended for public consumption. Our main objective is to provide accurate data, serving as a reliable basis for advising our clients in government, business, and not-for-profits, privately." 

Alissa Golob did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication. 

 

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