Has Don Mills put CRA in a conflict of interest?

A Contrarian reader asks:

Does it not seem to you that there is a major conflict of interest in the Savage-for-Mayor camp? [AllNovaScotia.com, the online news service]  lists Don Mills as one of Savage’s top supporters. Since  Mills operates Corporate Research Associates, the major polling firm in the province — one that just recently reported Savage with a big lead — why would one trust anything CRA has to say on the race?

A fair question, and we put it to Mills, who replied:

Corporate Research Associates has been since its inception a non-partisan polling company. It is one of the reasons our polling is so respected by the media. Every time we publish poll results , our reputation is on the line. We adhere to the highest standards in the conduct of our business. We attempt each and every time to ask questions in a fair ad unbiased manner. We publish the questions used in order for the public to judge the quality of our work. I have worked hard all my career to ensure the integrity of our work. Our record speaks for itself in that regard.

I have lots of issues with political polls and the way they are presented, but in this case, I’m inclined to accept Mills’s assurances. He runs the pre-eminent blue-chip polling firm in Atlantic Canada. It’s his bread and butter. He would be foolish indeed to squander that standing by rigging polls in a municipal election whose outcome doesn’t seem all that hard to predict, with or without polling data. Reinforcing this view is the fact Mills made no effort to hide his support for Savage.