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Robocall Poll on Casinos A Preview of Our Next Wedge Issue?

A telephone poll indicates that Casino Toronto might be our next political hot button.

Photo of a casino in Niagara Falls, New York. By {a href=""}Phil Marion{/a}, from the {a href=""}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

Last month, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation announced that it intends to build a resort casino somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area, and now Mayor Rob Ford appears to be taking up the cause. He’s been touting the job-creation potential of the proposal (though the economic benefits of casinos are notoriously hard to measure), and has even said he’d be open to a referendum.

Last night, reports began circulating on Twitter that residents in different parts of the city were receiving robocalls inviting them to take part in a phone poll designed to gauge their feelings about the prospect of a resort casino in Toronto. The poll also sought their opinions of their local councillors, as well as the mayor.

We have a recording of the robocall, provided to us by local activist Dave Meslin, embedded above. The call is conducted by a recorded male voice, who, at the end, identifies a company called “iFusion” as being responsible for putting the whole thing together. That name doesn’t register on Google, but the phone number that the robocalls originated from does, as city hall observer Jonathan Goldsbie was the first to point out. The number is associated with a virtual call centre company called Campaign Support, whose administrative contact uses the same email address as Amber-Joy Kouvalis, wife of Nick Kouvalis, Rob Ford’s former campaign manager and chief of staff. Kouvalis is head of Campaign Research, a political research consultancy.

Whoever commissioned this poll—be it the mayor or another person with an interest in local politics—seems to have been wondering if the way Torontonians feel about gambling can be used to influence 2014′s municipal election. We know the mayor is already in campaign mode, as are a few of his foes on council. Someone’s looking for a leg up.

Here are the poll’s questions, transcribed:

First, it asks for the respondent’s age and sex. Then it gets into meatier matters.

Question three,” says the recorded voice. “There are news reports on the possibility of a casino resort being built right here in the city of Toronto. To what degree are you positive or negative on a casino resort being located in Toronto?”

The poll continues:

Question four. If it was decided that a casino was going to be built in Toronto, which of the following locations for a casino resort would be your first choice?” Options are Ontario Place, Exhibition Place, the Port Lands area, the Woodbine race track, and “the old Downsview base.” Rob Ford has said that he favours Woodbine as a potential casino location.

Question five. Do you have a favourable or unfavourble opinion of City Councillor Ana Bailao?” (This question appears to have been custom-tailored to the respondent’s ward.)

Question six. Do you have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford?”

Question seven. If a resort destination, with casino, was built in Toronto, and resulted in thousands of jobs being created, how would you feel about this casino now?” (This echoes Rob Ford’s public statements about the casino’s job-creation potential, meaning he could be using this as a way of refining his message.)

The poll concludes:

“Thank you very much for participating in our poll. For more information please call 1-877-821-6024.”


  • Vampchick21

    Someone please tell me what a given city councillor’s approval rating has to do with casinos? Same with the approval rate of the mayor. These two questions have shit to do with the issue at hand, a casino in the city of Toronto. This robocall stinks of Election 2014.

    • Anonymous

      It will tell Rob Ford’s puppet masters where to concentrate their efforts in swaying potential referendum voters. Transit didn’t work as a wedge issue, so they’ll try to use this to pit ward against ward, councillors against “the people”, etc.

  • Chris

    I received a call with the poll, they asked me my opinion of Cesar Pelacio even though I live in Ward 11.

  • Canadianskeezix

    Interesting that they ask about a “casino resort”, not just a casino.

  • Anonymous

    Have those developer/speculator campaign donor iou’s reached the baseball bat stage already?

    There’s more than a whiff of desperation to all this…

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone know what the status of Ontario Place is with respect to property tax? It’s not exempt as a provincial site I hope?

    • Anonymous

      Ontario Place is provincial property. It does receive some revenues in terms from the boats which doc off of it. Ontario Place’s business model is broken. No one wants to pay $14-$24 to go to park that is designed for 6-11 year olds, with nothing to do for the teenagers / adults.

      That is why the Ontario Place is considered a possible site… waterfront views… close to the downtown core… accessible by TTC. Eitherwise its just a park that the province has to seal off.

  • Jim Bond

    Watch the video that casino lawyers had banned from YouTube. Please click the link below. Feel free to re-post or share. See what McGuinty is doing about it.

  • Anonymous

    SOOOOOOOOO many bad polling questions torqued to get a certain view point. The results would be meaningless for anything other then to create pressure through private publication.

    If this is the standard way Kouvalis has been judging Torontonians view on things, no wonder the mayor thinks people want subways subways subways.

  • Moondogsballroom

    Notice the choices of location offered, “The Portlands, Ontario Place or The Ex which are non starters, “Downsview” probably is as well leaving us only with the mayor’s pet project; Woodbine.

  • Moondogsballroom

    Oh and by the way everybody knows that people want “Casinos, Casinos, Casinos!!!” Don’t they? And a monorail. And a ferris wheel. But only if it’s going to be the biggest in the whole wide world.

    • Anonymous

      This will finance subways! And create 4000 jobs!

  • McQuaid

    We need a casino. We need to pay for Mr. Ford’s Fishin’ buddy’s new jail for pot smokers. And since we don’t believe in taxes any more, and we need to lock up people who smoke pot (Sorry, Rob, this will be you, too…) we need a casino. Logical? If you think this is good logic, vote for the Ford/WhoDat/Harper slate. Otherwise, vote for somebody with a brain.