The Ontario government did extensive polling to gauge the public’s appetite for a multibillion-dollar Canadian bail­out of the troubled auto industry — and got information that closely mirrors how Premier Dalton McGuinty and his cabinet have tried to sell the idea to voters.

Two polls costing $5,662 tracked public support for a joint federal-provincial bailout, assessed people’s familiarity with the plan, and tested four different “messages” to see whether they would affect the result, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under freedom of information laws.

An online poll conducted Nov. 19 to 25 by Harris-Decima found that public opinion was divided over whether the province or the federal government should provide financial support to the beleaguered auto industry.