census

Census change is about smaller government

I received a call today from a reporter around noon about what he conceded was “the story that just won’t go away”. He was, of course, talking about the census. He wanted to know if I could pass on a few names of possible interviews for right-wingers that support the government’s stand to scrap the long-form census. Of course, there are the folks over at the Western Standard who are taking up their obvious position against the mandatory “burden”, but in broader view, it got me thinking about who opposes the government’s plan and why the story would not just go away.

Every day it seems that there’s a new group of people lining up to bemoan the Industry Minister’s announcement that the census would forego the long-form. Certainly, this illustrates a serious problem that Stephen Harper faces as Prime Minister. Facing an opposition that can’t get its act together is one thing, but a nation where the voices of special interests are louder than ordinary citizens is another.

Indeed in this country, there are two groups of people. In fact, some would call these groups the haves and the have-nots. This is an not inaccurate way of describing it, but those that would might have the two switched. Canadians form two groups: those that receive from the government and those pay to the government. Those who form — or are constituent to — organizations dependent on government policy (and spending) are firmly against the changes to the census. Those on the other side are largely ambivalent because they are the large, unorganized and unsubsidized net taxpaying masses.

The conservative/libertarian Fraser Institute think tank’s motto is “if it matters, measure it”. The untruth of the inverse of this statement is at the centre of why this government should follow through. “If you measure it, it matters” is the motto of those net tax receiving organizations who only matter if they can make their case. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has tried the ideological argument against these groups for years. But ideology is by its nature debatable; removing the framework of debate is his shortcut to victory.

If Stephen Harper succeeds in moving in this direction, he will be in the initial stages of dealing a huge blow to the welfare state. If one day we have no idea how many divorced Hindu public transit users there are in East Vancouver, government policy will not be concocted to address them specifically. Indeed if this group were organized (the DHPTUEV?) and looking for government intervention, they’d be against the census change. The trouble is that in Canada, the non-affiliated taxpayers not looking for a handout have not organized. Indeed, the only dog they have in this fight is the amount of tax they pay (aka “transfers”) to sustain the interests of others.

QMI’s David Akin exclaimed surprise that from his cell within the beehive of special interests that is Ottawa, he was shocked to find that a full half — that other half — of Canadians aren’t upset about the changes to the census when it seems that’s the only thing the other bees seem to be buzzing about. The story that “just won’t go away” is a flurry of activity “inside the beehive”, because until you go outside, you can’t see the forest for the trees.

The other recent Lockheed Martin-related news story of the past couple of weeks was the Conservative government’s huge sole-sourced $16 Billion contract with Lockheed Martin to buy F-35 fighter jets. Perhaps I was a bit naive to think that every part of that sentence should be offensive to the Ottawa media… sole-sourced… American arms dealer… flying war machines… Conservative government. No, this largest military purchase in Canadian history didn’t even make a significant blip on the Ottawa establishment radar, simply because it didn’t challenge the position of any special interest groups. There’s no bevy of community/cultural/government organizations ready to line up to criticize/laud such a move. If the government had taken $16 Billion out of HRSDC’s $80+ Billion annual budget to pay for it, however, there’d be a swarm.

I believe that this Prime Minister has a few objectives in mind as he integrates seemingly transactional initiatives into something transformative. First, he merged the Progressive Conservative party and the Canadian Alliance to challenge what seemed to be entrenched Liberal electoral domination. Through initiatives such as financial starvation via election finance reform and ideological force-feeding on the policy front, Stephen Harper seeks to diminish or destroy the Liberal Party to replace them with the Conservatives as Canada’s default choice for government. His greatest challenge is to dismantle the modern welfare state. If it can’t be measured, future governments can’t pander. I imagine that Stephen Harper’s view, Canada should be a country of individual initiative, not one of collective dependence “justified” through the collection of data.

Comments

comments

  • RayK

    Oh no, I hit “like” instead of “reply”!

    Anyway, since when is “asking for handouts from the government” the definition of a special interest group? That's just silly.

    Even if you accept your ludicrous premise that's government funding is somehow a “handout” (which is just silly), the definition of a “special interest” group is that they support a particular private interest rather than a more general political interest.

    I understand that American conservatives have tried to redefine this term to make it synonymous with advocacy or pressure groups, but they are totally distinct concepts.

    (I would, however, agree that the NCC and the Manning Centre are general poltiical/advocacy/pressure groups, not special interest groups–though, they may well be funded by special interest group, I don't know.)

  • kenn2

    Applying your logic:

    Business Economists are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Nurses are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Planners are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Agencies Serving Immigrants are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Those supporting Co-operative Housing are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Union members are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Members of Canada West Foundation are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    United Way of Canada are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Glendon School of Public and International Affairs is full of mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Community Medicine proponents are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management is full of mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Nanos, Ekos, Environics Research are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    University Teachers are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view
    Toronto Board of Trade are all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view

    … and so on.

    Glad we cleared that up.

  • Beauger

    Oh dear, spirited defense of the A listers. So vote the Conservatives out – simple but elegant solution to the new census format. Cheers.

  • kenn2

    This is of course the fallacy of the “average”. Nobody is average or ordinary. Just about everyone is touched or influenced in some fashion by a special interest – through race, ethnicity, language, disability, poverty.

    Special interest groups are made up of ordinary people sharing a common need. They're not freaks.

    This have/have-not dichotomy is a fiction that the right-wing uses to block anything that smacks of social progressiveness.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    To that I say that social progress is not parallel with government intervention.

    But I guess that's what doesn't make me a “Progressive”.

  • wilson

    Organizations don't vote,
    Canadian citizens do.
    168,000 Canadians refused to fill in the 2006 long for census.
    21,000 Canadian citizens joined in protest in 2006, religion: jedi Knights

    Now that the sleeping giant, the previously 'silenced' majority has been allowed a voice,
    we shall see…

  • RayK

    As I wrote in reply to another comment, I find your definition of “special interests” laughable. As kenn alludes to–while using different nomenclature–what you're describing are not “special interest groups”, but rather just people–citizens, communities–with common goals and priorities. These are just people engaged in our political debate.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Interest_G

    The idea that most people are part of the “net taxpaying masses” and paying for “handouts” to others is totally unfounded. All Canadians benefit from government spending and the great majority pay below the mean in taxes thanks to the progressive income tax. Certainly the 62% of Canadians who voted against Harper don't seem to think they're paying for some massive handouts to mythical “others”.

    But all that not withstanding, the fact remains: you're admitting that it is not politically viable to convince Canadians (i.e. the voters who decide elections) to oppose government action aimed at solving social problems, so Stephen Harper is cutting off the means by which his opponents can prove these problems exist to begin with.

    It would be one thing if you were arguing that these groups have some kind of special powers–like well-connected insiders with behind the scenes influence or monied interests that can affect election results in ways that have nothing to do with the substance of their issues. But your very argument implicitly admits this is not the case. As you wrote, Harper is cutting off the information these groups need to make their case which–ipso facto–means that these groups are succeeding by… making their case. If these groups–and the government action for which they advocate–didn't succeed through public support then cutting off their data–“removing the framework of debate”–would be irrelevant.

    The funny thing is that you and I very much agree on about the fundamental corruption of the status quo. I too believe that our system of governance can and is being manipulated to produce policies that run counter to the best interests of the vast majority of Canadians, but–you see–I do believe it's “well-connected insiders” and “monied interests” who are using their personal power, not the political/voting power of those they represent, to manipulate the system.

    That's the problem–not people advocating for government action based on facts and data.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    You said:
    “you're admitting that it is not politically viable to convince Canadians (i.e. the voters who decide elections) to oppose government action aimed at solving social problems, so Stephen Harper is cutting off the means by which his opponents can prove these problems exist to begin with.”

    Wrong, I'm saying that the voices of special interest groups are louder than those of ordinary citizens and that being bogged down in the news cycle by every group that lines up to take shots skews one's view of what the silent majority cares about. This silent majority (or indeed plurality) decides elections.

  • kenn2

    Still the “us” vs “them”. As in “They” want entitlements and “We” resent paying for them.

    RayK, it's a very useful fiction for conservatives.

  • kenn2

    “Progressive” is probably the label I'd most likely accept for my views.

    But you don't have to be a progressive to think that Harper shouldn't be trying to change the country's direction by poking its eyes out.

  • http://twitter.com/ChristianConsrv ChristianConservativ

    Well said Stephen… a fantastic analysis of what this fight is REALLY about… average, taxpaying Canadians, vs. “special interest” and welfare state status-quo

  • http://twitter.com/ChristianConsrv ChristianConservativ

    Well said Stephen… you've accurately defined what this fight is REALLY about… average, taxpaying Canadians, vs. the status-quo special interest welfare-state

  • http://twitter.com/brazierdv brazierdv

    And everybody knows just how reliable the religious census is: do we really have that many Druids, Vulcans and Klingons here?

  • kenn2

    Bullshit.

  • kenn2

    Most people can agree that the “jail” part can safely be scrapped. The battle is with regards to keeping the long-form mandatory, with fines for non-compliance.

    Relatively speaking, very, very few people object to the census on principle. Most Canadians accept the census as a reasonable part of their bargain with government. The vast majority complete them and send them in. For the ones who don't, by far the most common reason is that they either forgot or misplaced the form. Way down at the bottom of the list of reasons for non-compliance are the few who object on principle.

    Pure libertarianism, like pure socialism, is a polar extreme and doesn't exist successfully in practice. Ours is a free society, so libertarians have the luxury of indulging their fantasies in the security of their own homes, with government-backed mortgages, protected by government funded police fire and EMS.

    It's beyond the capability of any private polling firm (or their client's ability to pay) to gather population statistics that approach the depth and completeness of StatsCan data. By removing the mandatory designation, and portraying the long-form census as something odious that people shouldn't be obligated to complete, Harper will seriously damage the integrity and statistical accuracy of the next census results. It's a hell of a price to pay for a fairly small ideological point.

  • Liz J

    Nice to have so much ado about changes to the census. One would think there were hordes who love to bare their souls to a government agency.

    It sort of breaks the monotony of a long hot summer while Iffy rides the bus and his handlers continue with his extreme makeover.

  • Mary T

    Next Tuesday we will all be glued to CPAC to watch the committee go crazy questioning Tony re the census change. Regardless of the outcome, and the recommendations brought back to the HofC in Sept, they can't make me or thousands of others answer every question we don't want to.
    And I think the next one will have a lot more weird answers, after all this flack.
    And due to the affirmative action crap, I will now look at every announcer, govt employee, guest on any tv political show and ask myself-are you there because of qualifications or race, gender, minority group. And, what qualified person of any race did you climb over to get there. Bet I am not the only one who will question that.
    Re the census thing, do they realize that 2 yrs before a census is due, all organizations, special interest groups and individuals can submit proposals for questions, and in 2008 all decisions re the next one were made. And do they know that in 1975 it was recommended that questions re religion be abolished, and agreed to by Stats Can. But the head honcho at the time did not do it.
    Funny what you can find in Canada Gazette re the census and Stats Can and the annual report.
    So, when the guy that quit says he was not consulted, he could be telling the truth as all decisions were made before his appointment. He was supposed to implement said changes but didn't.

  • Liz J

    Mary, I have already noticed the changing complexion on all fronts and also wonder if they got there on a broad spectrum of qualifications or because of their minority status. I'm sure those who are considered in minority due to race or ethnicity would prefer not to be given preferential treatment because of it. It's simply bad policy for all concerned.

    Who will we see on that committee, some of the usuals like Wailing Jennings, Ralph Goodale, Mark Holland and chaired by Szabo?

    I'd also like to know who gets access to our souls as private citizens from government information, and how much of that information leads to filling our mail boxes with junk mail and nuisance phone calls? Will there be any such thing as a “private” citizen left?

  • Gayle

    “I don't think that the NCC is asking for handouts from the government. If groups like his and mine are to be counted it is not so that we can justify an influx of cash from the state.”

    Government funding has nothing to do with being a special interest group. A SIG is a group of individuals or organizations with interest in a shared area.

    “There are privacy interests at stake here, I chose to focus on another facet of this discussion.'

    But this other facet is one that the government does not want exposed. If so many people would support THAT facet they would be shouting it from the rooftops, wouldn't they? Besides, why did this suddenly become the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER. There is no evidence of a backlash against the long form prior to this announcement. You know perfectly well the conservatives are claiming it is about privacy because they are trying to hide their true motives.

    “I am miffed about this being sole-sourced.”

    Your point was that the media was ignoring it in favour of the census debate, and my point was the reason for that is because the people who would usually make a big stink out of it are silent. Silent because it is bad when liberals spend like that, but really really ok when conservatives do it. If conservatives were complaining, the media would cover it more than they have.

  • Gayle

    The mindless voters are the ones who, just a couple weeks ago, did not think twice about the long form census, but now think it is the worst invasion of privacy in the world, just because Harper tells them so.

    Stephen pointed out how no one seems at all concerned about the sole sourced contract for the fighter jets. Where are all you fiscal conservatives hiding out?

    The answer is obvious – you are all screaming about privacy rights instead of big spending decisions by your conservative government.

    You people are so easy for Harper to control.

  • Gayle

    “When governments count people in order to pander to pander to them more effectively I worry about true intentions and good public policy.”

    Only a conservative would think that the government meeting the needs of the people who elect them, and give them their taxes, is pandering.

    That is just sad.

    As for paying the market rate for data? I am pretty sure they already do – to Statitistics Canada.

  • Gayle

    Sigh…

    Special interest groups ARE ordinary citizens.

    You know, when you have to lie to prove your point, it generally means you do not have one.

  • Beauger

    Gayle – I wish Iwas on speaking terms with the PM and members of his government. I am happy to report that my marching orders are transmitted via an implant in the back of my head. Its an XFiles thing for people who have legitimate privacy concerns. I don't even ask my grown children these questions – none of my business and most certainly not yours. Cheers.

  • Gayle

    Your marching orders are transmitted every time Harper or one of his caucus gets up and says “ordinary Canadians want/don't want…”

    That is when you conservatives say “oh yeah, I do want/don't want…” and you go on every blog and write letters to every newspaper to say so.

  • Gayle

    And, of course, I will never ever ever know what you answer in the census, since the information is collated and individuals' information is KEPT PRIVATE. But you knew that I am sure. It is just that the facts make it harder for you to support your position, so you make something else up instead.

  • Mary T

    Someone should tell Gayle that the jet contract has been studied, restudied and restudied. I don't see all the other nations that are buying this jet having fits like liberals are. Does she know that it was her love of her life, JC and liberals that signed the original contract to get this going. Other plane manufacturers submitted prototypes etc and the final choice was the one purchased. She seems to think that the DND woke up one morning and said, hey lets buy this one. Guess she wants Canada to be odd man out with the world.
    One training program for all the countries, but Canada should have its own. Need maintenance anywhere in the world, ok for all countries and pilots except Canadians.
    But, some lib honcho got his shorts in a knot (could have been iggy, looking at that photo) and was mad that they didn't make the call, got the lib media all hot and bothered and guess what, another faux scandal ready to roll. Just like the census and affirmative action. Anything to get the tour de farce out of the news, as the wheels are falling off the bus. Call Harper's Diesel, mayby they can put air in the tires.
    And why is Justin always in the photos of Iggy, with a big smile on his face. And why is Iggy crying when JC choked him. The look on JCs face says it all-should I finish the job.

  • Gayle

    “Someone should tell Gayle that the jet contract has been studied, restudied and restudied.”

    Actually, you should tell Stephen that. He is the one who said he was miffed over it.

  • kenn2

    People here bring up “privacy concerns” with nothing but idle speculation to back them. even to suggest that the pearsonal data is provided to telemarketers. Complete bullsh!t.

    Fact is, I don't think anyone can point to ONE privacy complaint against StatsCan that has been shown to be valid. StatsCan has a very strong reputation for taking immense pains to ensure that demographic info stays separated from personal ID. VISA and the other card companies have worse track records than StatsCan for leaks of personal info and for lax security. Torn up your charge card yet?

    Next Tuesday we will all be glued to CPAC to watch the committee go crazy questioning Tony re the census change. Regardless of the outcome, and the recommendations brought back to the HofC in Sept, they can't make me or thousands of others answer every question we don't want to.
    And I think the next one will have a lot more weird answers, after all this flack.Next Tuesday we will all be glued to CPAC to watch the committee go crazy questioning Tony re the census change. Regardless of the outcome, and the recommendations brought back to the HofC in Sept, they can't make me or thousands of others answer every question we don't want to.
    And I think the next one will have a lot more weird answers, after all this flack.

    Well, no foolin'. By stirring this pot, and by falsely portraying the census as onerous and StatsCan as having privacy issues, of course all the faithful have taken up the cry, and grabbed their pitchforks.

    Data Bad! Data BAAAAD!!! What's next – book-burning?

    Nice to see the race card finally getting played, too. Bravo.

  • Liz J

    Nice you are so sure and confident in StatsCan. If information isn't shared of what value is it?

    Even though I agree with Mary's comment, please give proper attribution to the quotes you use.

    Don't go off the deep end, we're simply having a discussion here, nobody said all data was bad or “BAAAAD”.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    As a Jedi Master

    I have been busy explaining to my children how the Liberals abandoned liberty, small accountable government for a nanny state.

    The Empire will not have my children to use a storm troopers to push “social justice” to limit our liberty or increase our taxes.

    They are critical of all political parties and promises from the snake oil salesmen behind the curtain.

  • kenn2

    Sorry, I thought it was obvious I was responding to Mary. I will add better attributions in future.

    Nice you are so sure and confident in StatsCan. If information isn't shared of what value is it?

    1) StatsCan is well-regarded worldwide, I have heard from an insider that they go to huge lengths to keep personal identification info secret and apart from statistical info, and as far as I know they have never leaked personal information or otherwise compromised the privacy of anyone who has submitted data. That's fairly confidence inspiring. If you actually have info to the contrary, please share.

    2) Re info sharing -I hope that you can appreciate the difference between statistical and personal info, but at the risk of being condescending, I will give you an example:

    PERSONAL INFO: The population of Alpha is 3. Tom made $32 k, Dick made $62k, Harry made $74k

    STATISTICAL INFO: The average income of the population of Alpha was $56k.

    The statistical info can be shared without revealing the individual incomes. StatsCan is very good at this. I trust them, I don't understand why you wouldn't.

    Don't go off the deep end, we're simply having a discussion here, nobody said all data was bad or “BAAAAD”.

    I'm sorry, this at the very heart of the matter. Quoting from Stephen's post:
    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has tried the ideological argument against these groups for years. But ideology is by its nature debatable; removing the framework of debate is his shortcut to victory.

    removing the framework of debate – could this be more obvious? Harper is setting about to compromise and reduce the statistical accuracy of StatsCan's information gathering, to limit the ability of what he calls “special interests” to demonstrate the legitimacy and scope of their cause.

    When Harper hates the message, he attacks the messenger. That's been his method all along. This time it's not a person, it's an institution. For Harper, ignorance IS bliss.

  • Mary T

    Gayle has made an astounding comment at BCL, this stupidity is what voters will remember on election day. Perhaps those liberals for life will remember, and vote liberal again, but it wont change conservative voters. And those liberal for life voters would never vote anything but liberal, if they still support the party after all the thefts of our money, adscam, choking a man, pepperspraying a crowd, keeping a candidate charged with a crime, keeping another MP in caucus who is facing drunk driving charges.
    An supporting a leader that was forced on them by undemocratic actions.

  • http://www.did101.wordpress.ca D.I.D.

    People likewise follow the “guidance” of Iggy and Layton (and Duccepe for that matter) as if their words come from a being that is Jesus, Mohummed, and Bhudda combined.

    Harper isn’t the only politician with a horde of mindless drones at his command…

  • http://www.did101.wordpress.com D.I.D.

    “The CPC likes it when you hold the illusion of a neat have/have not divide, they stand to benifit from your ignorance…”

    Oh boy, is that ever rich. Like you, I stand against Harper, but I do not oppose him for the sake of opposing him. The sad state of our political culture has ALL main-line parties utilize fear and invoke divisions among Canadians for their own benifit, the Liberals included (and especially).

    Harper's political opportunism and his sacrificing his principles the moment they threaten to damage him is well known, but would Ignattief or Layton be any different? The NDP is essentially a cult of personality around Jack, and the highly-disciplined Politiburo that is the Liberal Party always parrot the convictions of its current fearless leader. Every party in Canada is built on a lust for power where principles are secondary.

    We need some better parties, or else it'll always be different pigs, same trough.

  • Beer and Popcorn

    This is a fascinating analysis. I was wondering why all the usual extreme leftists in the media were so up in arms against this.

    The amazing thing is how Canadians let this go on so long given that there is no value to the census to everyday, taxpaying Canadians not affiliated with a special interest groups, except if you count having to shell out more taxes.

  • Switchyard O'Taylor

    I think you're wrong.

    The people do not bargain with the government. The government sits at the will of the people.

  • kenn2

    Where is the public groundswell of people against the census, that the government is reacting to? Point to one violation of someone's privacy by StatsCan.

    You can't convince me that the will of the people is for the government to be less informed, and to leave statistics gathering to private firms.

  • Switchyard O'Taylor

    I think you're being disingenuous in your comments. There is no groundswell of suburban voters, because they don't care that much, this is just a minor intrusion into their lives, but it is a symbolic victory for anyone who is sick of the idea of a government willing to take from you, if you don't give.

    Why does the United Church of Canada deserve data collected at the expense of the taxpayer? Why does Greenpeace? The Knight Templar? or any other 'social' organization….

    I think if I'm also disingenuous we can find a reasonable compromise. I think we should allow get private firms to do the census (my side), but we could allow them to enforce it the way the government does (your side).

    That way I can hire some Pinkertons to come by your neighbourhood and coerce information about your wealth and spending habits, religion or schools your children attend… otherwise I'll take your money or throw you in jail.

    What a deal!

  • kenn2

    it is a symbolic victory for anyone who is sick of the idea of a government willing to take from you, if you don't give

    It's a Pyrrhic victory if they end up damaging a well-regarded institution to make a small ideological point. Particularly when there is no demand to do so from the populace.

    An arms-length publicly funded statistics organization is going to produce the best most accurate dataset, at the lowest overall cost. No private polling organization is equipped or interested in taking this on, and unless you want the government to pay MORE for data they could collect much cheaper by themselves, they have no client willing to pay for a full-up unbiased census.

    Why is the right absolutely silent on the fact that Harper has done less than nothing to improve government transparancy and accountability? No other single action would give you the feedback necessary to ensure the government DOES serve the will of the people. I'd much rather they did that than to set about wrecking stuff.

  • Beauger

    Took an informal census of 8 adults who were visiting on the weekend – one 70ish, five 30ish, two 50ish. For your information the only one who knew about this “controversy” was moi. When I told them the Liberal/NDP/BLOC were going to hold hearings on this matter and perhaps use this as an excuse to defeat the government – they gave me the universal ” are you crazy” look. Therefore, my research shows that this is a non issue and will not be a winner in the fall election. Everybody was happy to answer the question and no one went to jail. Cheers.

  • Marcus

    The bargain is thus: the people pay taxes, the government supplies certain services. The amount of taxes paid and the number (and quality) of services provided certainly varies, but if the people start feeling more screwed over than usual, they install a new government.
    That's the way it works, no?

  • LNicholson25

    My experience has been the same. Everyone I've talked to about this knew nothing about it until I explained it. I never mentioned the hearings, but I suspect I would've got the same “are you crazy” look that Beauger received.

  • Morangie

    What about municipalities that use this information? Are libraries “special interest” groups? As a planner working in local government, I rely on data derived from the census to better plan services, new facilities, upgrades to existing facilities, as well as to demonstrate to “special interest” citizens' groups that the data doesn't fit their anecdotal need for specific services. The information is invaluable for planning purposes, it's the best information we have in making projections to plan for the future and I'm concerned that tinkering with the census without adequate input about the impact on the accuracy of the data will render it less useful or even useless in future.

  • cheeba 1

    while i agree with the reasons you described them doing this for… i cant help but disagree. i also come from a “have” family but that doesnt mean that people dont need help. its great that i have a good life with no debt but the stars have aligned for me and possibly for you… however there are alot of people that dont get dealt that hand… some do it to themselves but others get sucked in by circumstance.

    sadly we live in a world that once your booted to the curb it can be extremely hard to pull yourself out without some level of assistance. and if you have no family to turn to what do you do. yes you work hard but sometimes you need a little extra help.

    this is were the US got into trouble, instead of nurturing its populace they have let the wealthy get wealthyer and allowed the country to literally rot from within (inner cities).

    if you change this social behavour you change what it is to be Canadian. and once those people that we didnt help have nothing left to loose they start breaking into our homes and stealing our cars, robbing us at knife point..

    but i suppose its ok that your doing alright…. right….. oh whats that, nice car :)

  • Crommunist

    Nothing like constructing your OWN beehive and letting the buzz drown out any rational criticism. There was so much wrong with this post it's hard to know where to start.

    1 – I love the false dichotomy you've constructed between those who pay taxes and those who receive benefits. We all receive benefits from the government. Some more than others, but everyone as a function of being a citizen.

    2 – the reason many people are ambivalent is because they don't care, are uninformed, or haven't heard. As someone who pays a metric arseload of income taxes, and who opposes the change, and speaks to a number of others who are in the same boat, your conclusions are as risible as they are false.

    3 – as regards special interests being louder than ordinary citizens: it's awfully nice when you can just make stuff up. The fact are that 'ordinary citizens' weren't complaining about this issue to begin with. Do a quick Google search starting in May of 2010 for issues relating to the Canada long-form census. Seems as though 'ordinary citizens' weren't talking about it until the government decided to cancel it.

    4 – “removing the framework of debate is his shortcut to victory” – yes, as soon as you remove all of the facts from the table, then you can do whatever you want because you don't have to show what the consequences are. That's like saying we'd put more criminals in jail if we stopped giving people defence lawyers, and defining “criminal” as anyone who gets convicted of a crime.

    5 – “I imagine that Stephen Harper’s view, Canada should be a country of individual initiative, not one of collective dependence “justified” through the collection of data.” – you say that as though it's a good thing when decisions get made with no data to support them. But hey, Conservatives aren't a big fan of facts (which, as everyone knows, have a strong liberal bias).

  • Crommunist

    Nothing like constructing your OWN beehive and letting the buzz drown out any rational criticism. There was so much wrong with this post it's hard to know where to start.

    1 – I love the false dichotomy you've constructed between those who pay taxes and those who receive benefits. We all receive benefits from the government. Some more than others, but everyone as a function of being a citizen.

    2 – the reason many people are ambivalent is because they don't care, are uninformed, or haven't heard. As someone who pays a metric arseload of income taxes, and who opposes the change, and speaks to a number of others who are in the same boat, your conclusions are as risible as they are false.

    3 – as regards special interests being louder than ordinary citizens: it's awfully nice when you can just make stuff up. The fact are that 'ordinary citizens' weren't complaining about this issue to begin with. Do a quick Google search starting in May of 2010 for issues relating to the Canada long-form census. Seems as though 'ordinary citizens' weren't talking about it until the government decided to cancel it.

    4 – “removing the framework of debate is his shortcut to victory” – yes, as soon as you remove all of the facts from the table, then you can do whatever you want because you don't have to show what the consequences are. That's like saying we'd put more criminals in jail if we stopped giving people defence lawyers, and defining “criminal” as anyone who gets convicted of a crime.

    5 – “I imagine that Stephen Harper’s view, Canada should be a country of individual initiative, not one of collective dependence “justified” through the collection of data.” – you say that as though it's a good thing when decisions get made with no data to support them. But hey, Conservatives aren't a big fan of facts (which, as everyone knows, have a strong liberal bias).

  • Aeron

    I find it hilarious that Stephen is saying the PM who has grown government at the fastest rate since Trudeau is going to end the frakking welfare state because he made the census long form voluntary. Stephen, do you really believe your own BS?

  • pete e

    Stephen, wasn't it you who said, “Don't talk strategy. Talk policy. DO strategy.”

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    No, that wasn't me. But that's a good point.