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Canada’s pollsters are losing their watchdog.

Canadian public opinion and market research firms are vowing to create a new oversight body after the Market Research and Intelligence Association abruptly announced it was shutting down operations.

The self-governing, not-for-profit association broke the news of its closure Tuesday morning, telling its members in an e-mail that it would cease day-to-day operations almost immediately, and wind down completely by the end of August.

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The MRIA’s board chair, Amy Charles, who was appointed to the post in June, indicated the body was facing financial difficulties, but did not elaborate, according to a reported e-mail statement attributed to her.

The news appeared to catch many polling and research firms by surprise.

Don Mills, CEO of Corporate Research Associates, called the action “a very unfortunate occurrence.”

Mills’ organization, along with six others, issued a joint statement late Tuesday, vowing to ensure the highest industry standards would be policed under a new umbrella.

“In spite of the difficulties faced by the association, the market research and intelligence industry itself remains vibrant and financially strong,” Mills stated.

“We are also in agreement that, in the absence of MRIA, a new organization must be created that will act as the standard-bearer for quality research, industry standards and certification process,” added Leger 360 president Jean-Marc Leger.

Not everyone was disappointed by the association’s demise.

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Independent pollster Janet Brown said the organization did a poor job of policing its members.

“The industry need(s) a new organization that’s serious about standards and ethics,” she wrote on Twitter.

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