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Keep the Long Form part of the census mandatory; what you can do to protest this decision.

Some ink has been splashed of late detailing the Conservative government’s quiet decision to scrap the mandatory filling out of the long form census -without parliamentary debate, I might add.

There have been more then a few newspaper editorials condemning this rather short-sighted move, based it appears on ideological considerations (or more specifically, bowing to pressure to the Conservatives’ paranoid voter base), but I’m opposing it not on political/ideological grounds – I’d oppose this move regardless of who was in government – but based on a genealogist’s point of view, which is best expressed here by Gordon Watts, who writes at the Global Gazette, Canada’s Online Family History Magazine:

Genealogists and historians will understandably be extremely upset with these changes… There had been hopes that some of the information included on long form questionnaires might be transferred to the short form. For genealogists, information relating to makeup of the family, immigration and nationality, ethnicity and religion, is particularly important in determining their ancestry. Without that information, many researchers may never discover their ancestral country of origin. Information relating to the remaining topics covered by the NHS is important to future historians in documenting the history of our country.

…The Census is the single most important documented information available to the historical and genealogical communities. It is the only source in which you find information regarding families instead of individuals. Through successive censuses, you can track the formation of the family, you can track when children are born, when children grow up and move away, and you can track patterns of migration. By removing the information contained in the Long Form questionnaire, the government is taking from us the greatest source of information for the history of the country. It is a huge change, one that will have disastrous consequences for future genealogists and historians, and one that genealogists and historians will have to protest.

Watts goes on to state the hope that genealogists, historical societies and such will band together and protest this move.

Beyond the usual move of writing your member of Parliament or the federal party leaders, here are two other ways that have just been formed to express your dissatisfaction with this bone-headed short-sighted ideological manoeuvrer of the Conservative government.

One is joining the new Facebook Page set up to protest this move (Again, it’s put in page form because it’s easier for the administrators to keep in touch with people after it gets over 5000 people, unlike a FB group). The other is to sign the online petition telling the government that you oppose this move.


3 comments to Keep the Long Form part of the census mandatory; what you can do to protest this decision.

  • Brammer

    It may be short sighted and all, but I have a real hard time getting excited about the government collecting less personal information, especially after the increasing attacks on our privacy we have had to endure since 9/11.

  • Online petitions are not accepted by the House of Commons. If people are serious about this, they should go out and do a proper petition. It too will be completely ignored, but at least it will get tabled.

    Seriously – online petitions are a waste of time. There’s not a government in this country that accepts them. Not yet, anyway.

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