02/20/2013 15:59 EST | Updated 04/22/2013 05:12 EDT

N.L. premier says poll manipulation no big deal

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale says it's not a big deal that her caucus and political staff attempt to influence the results of online opinion polls.

She responded for the first time on Wednesday to a story in local newspaper The Telegram, which detailed how far the Conservatives go to manipulate those polls.

The story was based on leaked messages from the BlackBerry of Conservative MHA Paul Lane.

In the messages, Lane urged supporters to vote, and also demonstrated how to get around the security features to vote multiple times to manipulate the result.

Dunderdale brushed off the story.

"Oh please. There's no story here. Do we participate in polls? You betcha. Who in Newfoundland doesn't?" she said.

"We're politicians. We have a perspective. We have to relay what that perspective is, and talk about that perspective to the people of the province."

Dunderdale compared voting in online polls to TV show Canadian Idol and annual CBC Sports competition Kraft Hockeyville.

Opposition calls poll manipulation 'inappropriate'

Provincial NDP Leader Lorraine Michael called it a blatant attempt to manipulate the public.

"I find it inappropriate actually, and I find it a manipulation," she said.

"It does show a lot of time and energy, which means public money going into this kind of effort to get people to vote."

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons agreed.

"You know, this goes to show that the government is trying to manipulate the public when it comes to issues facing this province," he said.

"They are spending time and resources on it, and in a very calculated way."

But Dunderdale put it back on the opposition.

"Certainly nobody in any other political party is going to tell us that they don't participate in political polling?"

The opposition parties do admit to a lesser focus on these polls.

They said they inform their supporters whenever these polls arise. But they said it's nothing compared to the Conservatives' efforts.

"We don't in any way communicate with people; find out who voted, who didn't," Michael said.

"We don't give people notes. We may notify them of a poll – that's allowed."

Parsons said his party wouldn't put in such targeted efforts.

"We really don't have the time, the resources to do that, in such a highly calculated way," he said.

CBC News tried to reach Lane for comment, but he declined to do an interview.

A spokesperson for the MHA said Lane doesn't comment on stories based on anonymous sources.