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

  • Mary T

    I think the only thing being eliminated is the mandatory part of filling out the census and no longer being threatened with jail or fines. Regardless of how much the media and the goodales whine, that is the only thing changing. Can't wait for a campaign on the idea yes, if you don't fill it out you should go to jail. or be fined.
    If one googles Privacy Commissioner and Stats Canada you will find the 1975 report where there were numerous complaints made and Stats Canada had to promise to quit asking some questions. But, they haven't done it in all these years as religion is still on the form.
    The problem is trying to get an ordinary Canadian to be interviewed as we have no paper trail of the threats we got.
    I would suggest Dave Rutherford, as he was also threatened with jail or a fine for not complying with all the questions.

  • wilson

    When the United Church speaks to THEIR NEED for a mandatory (jail/fine) census,
    you know it's gone too far.
    A church against voluntary questionairs….

    Get rid of the long form census entirely.

  • Jasper502

    I agree it's about smaller Government – this explains the over the top reaction from the lefty-loons. I often troll the CBC comments to find the choice biased left perspective on these topics that only the CBC can attract. They are going crazy over this – way more than any real issue that affects the average Canadian.

    Also did you know that StatsCan has it's own $500,000,000 anual budget (that's right $500 million!). I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw that.

  • Beauger

    Are we so much conservatives on this issue or perhaps the better description is libertarian. I had to fill out one of those long forms the last time and really was annoyed with the part regard ethnicity. I am a Canadian, my children are Canadian and the cultural homeland is none of your business. Cheers.

  • wilson

    Was Canadian even an option?

  • Pcoleman

    Hey Stephen

    We at the National Citizens Coalition support this move- the faux histeria around this is quite something to watch. We would hope if they scrap the mandatory census they can get rid of the civil servants that monitor this as well. It truly is amazing to watch all these special interest groups crying the sky is falling. The census is such an accurate and critical piece for all of these parties to plan- so critical that they still think that way when 21,000 people in the 2001 census put “Jedi” down as their religion.

    The thought that people in a developed country could go to jail for not filling out the mandatory census is not becoming a country like ours. If you want this info on the surveys- go ahead and pay for it yourself.

    Peter Coleman
    President and CEO
    National Citizens Coalition

  • http://kinnyscomments.blogspot.com/ Paulmacphail

    Stephen, I’ve given this some serious thought. Thinking back, the most common thing that I heard from people regarding the census is that it was too intrusive. When I think of all the comparisons from the loony left about how far-right the Conservatives have gone toward the Nazis of world war 2, (although in my opinion they’d have to go right just to be considered left) it boggles my mind that people would be against scrapping mandatory jail terms for refusal to comply. The long-form census is reminiscent of what the Nazis did prior and during WW2, which was categorize every citizen for their own benefit so that they could target their programs at those people that they wanted to affect. It’s difficult to find any sense in it all. People with lazy minds believe the propaganda that Stephen Harper is the next incarnation of Hitler, and yet this is a very libertarian freedom from the intrusiveness of the state. It’d be hard to convince these people that snakes don’t have armpits.

  • Mary T

    From the 1975 privacy commissioners report.
    Among the report's highlights is resolution of the Office's longest and most complex investigation; 27 outstanding complaints against Statistics Canada's Census. To resolve the complaints, Statistics Canada has agreed to a number of important changes, including dropping from the short form (sent to four of five households) questions about “persons living elsewhere who stayed overnight” and about the residence. It will also eliminate questions about fertility and religion from the long form.

    Statistics Canada also agreed to improve its explanations of why particular information is needed and how it will be used; beef up its privacy training of census staff; offer a mail return option to avoid local enumerators seeing answers, and testing a centralized edit process which could eventually eliminate the need for enumerators.

    One issue remains to be resolved between Statistics Canada and the National Archivist; keeping personal returns in perpetuity. Destruction of personalized census data is the ultimate solution to Canadians' recurring privacy worries about the Census, particularly about the highly-detailed long form.

    Commissioner and staff received 1783 new complaints, handled more than 9,000 inquiries, completed 1307 investigations, 13 compliance audits and follow-ups and delivered 43 speeches during the year.
    So, this proves that census takers did open forms. And if so many people said Jedi to religion, it appears that stats canada has not removed the question.

    July 22, 2010

    No canadian was not an option on previous years census but we always said Canadian, and when questioned hubby got a little more specific, Canadian you a@@holes.

    Next time if they question race I will answer 100 yard dash.

  • http://kinnyscomments.blogspot.com/ Paulmacphail

    Y’know, as an aside to my previous comment, I w0nder how many people lied when filling out previous forms? It’s quite possible that we have 5 million less males in this country than what was reported. I myself am quite perplexed because even those that claimed to be Jedi haven’t specified if they were on the council, were masters or just padawans. Do you have any idea what that can do to your long-term marketing plan if you’re selling light-sabres?

  • calgaryjunkie

    Talk about an incremental change by Clement. And yet look at the massive pushback from the usual suspects ! Hopefully those within our Party who want PMSH to move faster and further in other areas, will remember this ridiculous kerfuffle, and cut him some slack.

    Further to the effect that the change in financing rules has had … is that PMSH is not dependent on any of these special interest groups for donations. Thus he is not much compromised in his policy decisions. These groups have no financial leverage over him. Thank you Mr. Chretien, for helping PMSH in the dismantling of, not just the LPC, but the organizations that supported it. “Dumber than a bag of hammers” indeed.

  • Derbinger

    I guess he wasn’t getting any more leaks on purpose from the government of the day. I always saw him as a snot nosed jerk anyway.

  • Mary T

    OT, but what caused this.
    Update: Greg Weston's Sun column is dead and he and the chain have parted company

  • Darcy Meyers

    It's a monopoly on information, using personal intellectual property forcefully extracted from citizens. The least they can do is make it voluntary, and obtain consent for it's use. It is amazing how many groups feel threatened by this, and see the underlying message on the wall.

  • wilson

    Maybe, like StatsCan employee, he quit because he was not in agreement with the objectives of the employer!

  • Brian

    Did the reporter really concede that this is “story that just won’t go away” or was it simply a description? More to the point, why not name the reporter? Did he ask that you not reveal his identity?

  • wilson

    And here we go,
    now all the yahoos who 'attacked the change' in the census,
    are worried that the 'attacks on the change' in the census will hurt the census.
    Are yah following that!

    there's more
    Ivan Fellegi, the man who insisted the sky was falling and he too would resign in the situation.
    now says
    “It's very important that this not go on in an increasingly hostile and partisan manner. That would really damage the agency forever,” he said in an interview.

    LOL, then maybe yah shud of thought before you attacked, eh
    But he still thinks he is in control, and wants to call the shots now….huh,
    Prime Minister Harper makes appointments, not an ex-civil servant

    Just get rid of it.

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/breakin

  • http://twitter.com/cayside lwestin

    Good article. I especially appreciate the comment about “a nation where the voices of special interests are louder than ordinary citizens”. As an aside, Stats Can already collects information in a biased way, refusing to collate info on things like numbers and types of abortion – info not helpful to the loud voices that drown out the taxpayer.

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

    No, but I like them to call back!

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

    CJC and the evangelical fellowship are against the changes too.

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

    That seems small when compared to other government largess.

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

    Hey Peter. I know the NCC is fighting the good fight on this one.

    I'm waiting for the Jedis to stage a storming of Parliament on this one.

    Maybe the Toronto Star would headline it:
    Census Wars: Return your form, Jedi

  • calgaryjunkie

    This Fellegi dude should have stuck to calculating standard deviations.

    Did he check with Goodale before going off-script ?

    Anyway, he is now a welcome loose cannon onboard the coalition ship.

  • Mary T

    Have no one in the media or lib/ndp paid any attention to what Tony Clement suggested re the long mandatory form. It was to get rid of the threat of jail and fines, and today it has finally sort of got thru some very thick heads. Rose Barton on P&P suggesting that the threats of jail/fines be dropped. And now this
    Compromise calls for dropping jail time to allow mandatory census to go ahead .
    Gee what a great idea, but still keep it mandatory- Wonder if the talking heads are aware of how they have been snookered by the liberals. Looks good on them.
    Also a question re Will Tom Clark return to his show after his holiday.

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

    Well said. As a Jedi Knight I will be ensuring our culture is fully protected against the empire. The debate on no changes in the Census, requiring coercion to maintain it's validity is an interesting point from the stakeholders.

    I am curious with the databases from various government agencies already in existence if the Census could be conducted online.

  • wilson

    I want to know if these church groups and others , use the census information to canvas rich neighborhoods for donations.

  • wilson

    Oh looky here,
    3 weeks ago Sheikh was gung ho,
    but his huge oversized civil servant ego felt insulted when Tony said StatsCan was a-ok with the change, which 3 weeks early it appear he was….so he jumped ship, gawd.

    Now all the 'most important people on the planet' (in their minds) are scrambling for a compromise.
    Stand Firm Mr Clement,
    boot the entire census if must be.

    ''…Sheikh had apparently been willing to implement the government’s decision after it was first announced, telling agency employees in a June 28 email that the changes to the census had been published in the Canada Gazette two days earlier. The email notes the change from a mandatory long-form questionnaire to the voluntary one, and that it will go to more households.

    It concludes “I know that I can count on your ongoing support to ensure the success of these two important Statistics Canada priorities.”

    But Sheikh went offside with the initiative after Clement began implying that the move to a voluntary survey was done with the backing of the agency itself, a suggestion former employees called “offensive.”…

    http://www.thestar.com/article/838880–compromi

  • Mary T

    2011 Census questionnaire

    In accordance with the Statistics Act, the questions for both the Census of Population and the Census of Agriculture were prescribed by the Governor in Council through an Order in Council. The Order and the schedule questions were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on June 26, 2010.

    The 2011 Census will consist of the same eight questions that appeared on the 2006 Census short-form questionnaire. It will be conducted in May 2011.

    The information previously collected by the long-form census questionnaire will be collected as part of the new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS). This questionnaire will cover most of the same topics as the 2006 Census. The NHS questions will be made available by the end of July.

    The National Household Survey will be conducted within four weeks of the May 2011 Census and will include approximately 4.5 million households.

  • Mary T

    Who makes an Order in Council.

  • Mary T

    Maybe goodale and other should read Canada Gazette more often. Lots of info there re the next census.

  • Mary T

    Re the questions on the census, the same 8 used last time will be on the short form again.
    It appears that there was a lot of input by lots of special interest groups, businesses, individuals, and others that were consulted for questions on the long form. No wonder these groups are upset, perhaps their questions didn't make the final cut. Regardless all decions were finalalized a while ago. Pay attention to the dates: From Canada Gazette and Stats Canada.
    2011 Census Consultation

    Before each census, Statistics Canada embarks on an extensive user consultation and testing program. Data users and interested parties across Canada are asked for their views on the type and extent of information they believe should be available from the census. The goal is to ensure that Statistics Canada takes account of emerging social and economic issues and, where appropriate, uses the census to shed light on them.

    Statistics Canada welcomes your comments on any aspect of the census including questionnaire content, products and services, geography or census communications at any time during the census cycle.

    The 2011 Census and Geography Dissemination Consultation centred on the dissemination strategy for the upcoming census and was conducted from October 2008 to March 2009.

    The 2011 Census Content Consultation focussed on the questionnaire content for the next Census of Population and was held from April to November 2007.
    Census discussion forum

    The Census discussion forum is now closed. Statistics Canada appreciates the valuable feedback participants provided through this medium.
    How do YOU use census data?

    The How do YOU use census data? module is now closed. Statistics Canada would like to thank all participants for sharing their diverse uses of census data.

    Could the above be what Tony was referring to when he stated that Stats Can was involved in the decision making.

  • Louise

    This is a brilliant analysis. It will take years, though, to dismantle the welfare state. Unless we can get past these succession of minority governments, it might not even happen.

  • wilson

    Has anyone compiled a list of all the StatsCan surveys that are voluntary?

    Best I can find is that most of StatsCan data comes from voluntary sources.

    Did Fellegi and Sheikh just discredit ALL StatsCan data from voluntary sources?

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

    The GG on advice of the PM, iirc

  • Gayle

    “Canadians form two groups: those that receive from the government and those pay to the government.”

    Name me one single person who does not receive anything from the government. Do you have health care? Do you have roads to drive on? When someone breaks into your house, do you call the police? Did the Conservative Party of Canada use tax dollars to send out 10 %'ers? Do they keep the subsidy they receive from Elections Canada?

    Not to mention the fact there are many of us who both pay to the government and receive from the government. In fact, I would say that would account for the overwhelming majority of us. Some of us even pay more to the government then we receive.

    I get that it benefits you conservatives to paint everything as “us v them”, but sometimes, most of the time, it just is not like that.

    As for special interest groups, what on earth makes you think YOU are not a member of a special interest group. In fact, I think you even work for one. Certainly Mr. Coleman here does.

    But I must credit you for being a conservative who finally openly admits this whole thing has nothing to do with privacy interests but rather Harper's plan to dismantly our social safety network. Why do you think he will not just come out and admit that? Do you think it might have something to do with the fact he knows people are not going to like it?

    As for this:

    “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.”

    What a crock. See, I always thought it was you conservative types who did not like our tax dollars wasted. If a liberal government had agreed to spend this much money on an untendered contract, do you think conservatives might have been a little upset? I think it is pretty obvious they would. So the question you should be asking is not why aren't “special interest groups” concerned about this. Your question should be why aren't conservative supporters concerned about this. After all, they would be the ones you would expect to make a stink over such a large, and unneccessary, expenditure. But they aren't – because it is not about principles for them at all.

  • east of eden

    When I started working at a 'real' job when I was 16, we had to put our nationality and religion on the application form. For nationality, Canadian was not an acceptable option. I used to lie and put down 'English' because in those days, ethnics were usually the last to be hired. I annoyed me that Canadian was not an option because my parents, as well as I, were born here in Canada and had never even come close to visiting our ethnic homeland. My grandparents never even returned for a visit. I am happy that the mandatory part is now optional.

  • RayK
  • Julia

    This story won't go away because there are no other stories. Does anyone really believe that Conrad Black getting released from jail is as big a story as CBC and CTV have made it out to be. Leading the news for 3.5 days….please come on. THe only reason this story wont go away is because they have nothing else to talk about on their pathetic little 24 hr news stations. This isn't the united states, were just not that interesting or big enough to even justify one of these stations!

  • kenn2

    This sets the tone:
    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.

    A new low, Stephen. This nonsensical example demeans the very real value StatsCan provides to government, and also belittles anyone who has ever organised around a social need. Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Those silly women – why would they want to vote, anyway?

    The move to scrap the mandatory long-form census is a self-serving, ideological pander to the right, and a deliberate attempt to dismantle the necessary mechanics of good government, regardless of your feelings about government size. This doesn't necessarily make government smaller; it sure makes it stupider. (btw it's another move copied from the CPC's Republican idols to the south of us)

    There's nothing positive about the move. Anyone with a smattering of statistical analysis knows that making the long form voluntary will seriously reduce the statistical accuracy of the data. It could actually cost more to obtain statistically relevant data when it is needed.

    By deliberately blinding us with unreliable data, the CPC hopes to hide the extent and successes of our multicultural, multi-religious makeup, and to bury the facts that disclose the real size and makeup of our social problems.

    The privacy issue is pure hogwash. StatsCan is world-class in its care with the data, and insiders have reported on the elaborate precautions by which statistical data is kept separate from identification data. Where's the list of privacy complaints? Have any of the very few complaints ever been upheld?

    The noise re possible jail-time is also a red herring. No one has ever spent one minute in jail for failing to complete the census form, and just about everyone has agreed that the jail-time clause can be dropped anyway.

    This is about willful ignorance. This is about hiding facts to create more nice dark, damp pockets of uncertainty, where prejudices and fears are free to multiply, and pundits are free to argue that black is white, without fear of contradiction.

    This is about divide and conquer. As Stephen says:

    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.

    Stephen and his masters WANT you to think that this issue has neatly divided along the have/have-not lines. The truth is of course different. Look at some groups opposed to this move:

    Canadian Association for Business Economics
    Canadian Nurses Association
    Caledon Institute of Social Policy
    Canadian Institute of Planners
    Institute for Research on Public Policy
    Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
    Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada
    Canadian Labour Congress
    Canada West Foundation
    United Way of Canada
    Glendon School of Public and International Affairs
    National Specialty Society for Community Medicine
    Environics Analytics
    United Way Toronto
    University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management
    Nanos Research
    Canadian Public Health Association
    University of Toronto's School of Public Policy and Governance
    Canadian Association of University Teachers
    Canadian Council on Social Development
    Canadian Economic Association
    Toronto Board of Trade

    Heh. University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. Bleeding heart scum, eh? Always with their hand out…

    Both Stephens (and a Tony) want to pump new life into the common misconception that “Canadians form two groups: those that receive from the government and those pay to the government.” To believe this, you have to ignore the fact that the “payers” are also receivers – they use roads and healthcare, are protected by the same police and fire depts, play in the same parks, draw the same CPP, are served by the same army, take the same transit. You also have to ignore that all “payers” weren't always payers; they get laid off and need EI, and have crises and go off the rails and need welfare, have kids that fell in with drugs, and have old or sick relatives that needed home-care. And so on.

    The CPC likes it when you hold the illusion of a neat have/have-not divide; they stand to benefit from your ignorance.

    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.

    BS. Harper has a liking for ideological purity, but his main goal is power. If he thought that making everyone fill out the full census on pain of death would gain the CPC votes or damage the Liberals, he'd do it.

  • kenn2

    Riight. Cos so many people have been jailed for this.

    If that was really the reason, then yeah let's just drop the “jail” part. We don't have to throw out the statistical baby with the bathwater.

    Jeffrey Simpson has Harper's number on this census move.

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

    That's not a very useful comment.

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

    So you're suggesting that we make the census long-form “voluntary”?

  • kenn2

    No, just drop the jail part. Long-form should remain mandatory, with fines for non-compliance.
    (has anyone ever actually been fined?)

    Sorry if that was unclear.

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

    You said:
    “As for special interest groups, what on earth makes you think YOU are not a member of a special interest group. In fact, I think you even work for one. Certainly Mr. Coleman here does.”

    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.

    You said:
    “But I must credit you for being a conservative who finally openly admits this whole thing has nothing to do with privacy interests but rather Harper's plan to dismantly our social safety network.”

    I have said no such thing. There are privacy interests at stake here, I chose to focus on another facet of this discussion.

    You said:
    “What a crock. See, I always thought it was you conservative types who did not like our tax dollars wasted. If a liberal government had agreed to spend this much money on an untendered contract, do you think conservatives might have been a little upset?”

    I am miffed about this being sole-sourced.

  • Hollinm

    I think we all agree that no one has been jailed or even fined for not completing the long form census. However, I understand those that do not fill in the form have government “visitors” reminding them that the form is mandatory. Beside that then the census is already voluntary. Barton on P&P told Clement to just drop the jail and fine portion. Clement astutely said to her then that is the government's position today. No fine, no jail time. That in essence makes it voluntary.

    However, if Canadians are watching and listening they can see how there lives are controlled by the special interest groups and all of those that use the government data to extract money from the government or to further their ideological interests.

    There is nothing that says the government, once they try the voluntary approach, cannot change their position if the results etc are not as desired. There is nothing that is irreversible in this world.

    In the meantime all the special interest groups will have to find other ways to extract funding from the taxpayers of Canada.

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

    “This nonsensical example demeans the very real value StatsCan provides to government, and also belittles anyone who has ever organised around a social need. Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Those silly women – why would they want to vote, anyway?”

    When groups organize for social change, more power to them. When governments count people in order to pander to pander to them more effectively I worry about true intentions and good public policy.

    “There's nothing positive about the move. Anyone with a smattering of statistical analysis knows that making the long form voluntary will seriously reduce the statistical accuracy of the data.”

    Making it voluntary removes the coercive element from collecting data. This is positive. We could have realllllly accurate data if the state moved in with every citizen. Where do you draw the line?

    “By deliberately blinding us with unreliable data, the CPC hopes to hide the extent and successes of our multicultural, multi-religious makeup, and to bury the facts that disclose the real size and makeup of our social problems.”

    I won't link to them but do google the BNP's position on the British census. They are against the scrapping the census because they want the government to keep counting the non-white population so that they can “justify” their own special interest of ensuring that Britain remains white. Creepy motive eh?

    As for the CPC position, the party is winning over multi-cultural communities not via identity politics but by appealing to their common values. You know, by what they think (ideas) not by who they are (their ethnicity).

    As for your list, people who use government-subsidized data are going to be against the move. Let businesses pay market rate for data.

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

    So you're saying that the census should have a built-in selection bias for people who can afford to pay the census fine/tax.

    It's like rich people that park wherever they want!

  • kenn2

    When groups organize for social change, more power to them. When governments count people in order to pander to them more effectively I worry about true intentions and good public policy.

    You prefer ignorance, just in case you smell a pander?

    Making it voluntary removes the coercive element from collecting data. This is positive. We could have realllllly accurate data if the state moved in with every citizen. Where do you draw the line?

    Making the long form voluntary skews the data, much more than this perceived coercion you're trying to amp up. Do you not recognize ANY responsibility on the part of a citizen? Most people who complete the long form do so not out of fear of prosecution, but out of a sense of duty, grumbles aside.

    Of course pretending that the long form is onerous and that we HAVE to force people to do it helps the CPC create the impression that it is some sort of pointless actuvity forced on us by Big Government. So more people will grumble or joke the census, or boycott it. Win-win for the CPC, eh?

    I won't link to them but do google the BNP's position on the British census. They are against the scrapping the census because they want the government to keep counting the non-white population so that they can “justify” their own special interest of ensuring that Britain remains white. Creepy motive eh?

    You know who else used data? That's right, Hitler. Same argument, equally pointless. Data is (are) data.

    As for your list, people who use government-subsidized data are going to be against the move. Let businesses pay market rate for data.

    Ah, the Tower of Babel approach. Businesses and groups can buy whatever statistic they want, whenever they want. OK if you own a survey company or run a “think” tank, I guess.

    There's a saying in the internet grassroots – information wants to be free. In other words, any time you put a restriction on the amount, validity or dissemination of information, you choke growth. The internet owes its growth and utility because of the very few limitations on the format and usage. In a democratic country, an arms-length government supported statistics bureau is going to provide the best, most complete source of unbiased population data. Why would you throw that away?

    (It's because the CPC doesn't like what it's telling them, isn't it?)

  • Beauger

    Just had a peruse of the list of organizations who want the census unchanged. Can't see too many natural Conservative voters in that crowd. Are the members of these groups all mindless voters (led by the nose types) who don't have individual points of view? Will they all vote for the Coalition? You should hope so – the census will be changed, and when the Liberals/NDP/BLOC take over the government they can vote it back in – should only take a couple decades. Cheers.

  • RayK

    “'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.”

    Aren't you basically admitting that Canadians support government action to address social problems, but–because Conservatives can't convince Canadians to oppose such action–Stephen Harper is trying to hobble our ability prove those social problems exist in the first place?

    Cause, man, that's pretty F'd up.

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

    No, not Canadians… a subset of them.

    “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.”