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A lot of concern suddenly about Census intrusiveness where there was none.

The Census is your hot political topic for the summer – right up there with the F-35 fighter jet purchase. Who’da thunk? Certainly not the Harper government, I’d expect, who have now shifted gears (with ex-Cabinet minister Maxime Bernier apparently and suddenly given the lead starring role/spokesperson of this dumb move, in place of Tony Clement, who hasn’t exactly been stellar or persuasive with his arguments, if they can be called that). They now want to recall the House of Commons committee that looks into issues like the Census, so they can explain to Canadians how tyrannical the longform Census has been in mandatory form the past 30 years, and how the freedom-hating Liberals are bad to support it (plus a tonne of organizations and groups and newspaper editorials out there, but they conveniently neglected to mention them in their haste to attack the Liberals as haters of liberty).

My main observation this morning, however, has to do with the Conservative government’s allies in the blogosphere and in the think-tanks out there, that are rushing to defend this move and to try to paint the mandatory longform census as invasive on privacy and so forth.

In my particular case, I’ve seen nothing online on the blogs going back over the years from any of the Blogging Tories being critical of the “intrusiveness” of the long form census – not even this past year of any of them complaining about it up to the date that the government killed this and then was getting hammered on it unexpectedly. Suddenly, every Conservative blogger and organization that supports the Conservatives are worried to death about the Stalinist mandatory longform census and are insta-libertarians (and instant Tea Baggers). It speaks to the parrot attitude many of them hold and of defending their heroes in government at all costs from taking political damage. Rather pathetic, actually.

The related point is about the Conservative government’s attitude on this.  I also didn’t see the Conservatives run promising to kill the “tyrannical” long form mandatory census questions in their 2008 or 2006 election platform. If you can make the case for killing it, or you think its so terrible, you bring it up in Parliament and/or hold public hearings; you don’t secretly kill it with an Order-In-Council, hoping no one will notice in the summertime.

Either the Conservatives were too cowardly to do so, knowing the reaction they would get, or they were too arrogant about it (more likely, since they do seem genuinely surprised/stunned at the furore this has caused).

EDIT: You know you’re grasping for straws when Dimitri Soudas, the PM’s main spokesperson, sends out this type of statement yesterday:

Canadians don’t want the government at their doorstep at 10 o’clock at night while they may be doing something in their bedroom, like reading, because government wants to know how many bedrooms they have.

I’d like to vote this statement from Dimitri as the most asinine attempted defence (so far) of the scrapping of the mandatory longform census by a Conservative government spokesperson.

UPDATE @ 11:37 am: I think this blogpost is a bit closer to the mark as to the Harper government’s thinking of killing the mandatory longform, titled Harper Burns His Report Card. It may have less to do with rallying his Tea Party/libertarian wing of the Party (since that didnt appear to be a concern prior to them doing this move), then it is an intent to kill off having accurate data and facts as it pertains to the policies Harper wants to implement or leave behind after he’s gone:

I’m just guessing here, of course, but I think that what Harper really doesn’t want is for the census data to show what the effects of his own policies have been in the here and now.  Harper appears to like control more than anything else, and there’s just no way he can control what a thorough and complete census will tell.  He’s perfectly happy to take the limited data that he gets from Bay Street which seem to show that Canada’s economy is doing all right in the abstract: he may not be so happy about broader census data that may show that such prosperity is not getting through to average people.

…This is in part a legacy matter: Harper wants to control his own reputation long-term, and the one thing he can’t control is reliable, independently collected and analyzed data. Therefore, he’s just going to prevent its collection in the first place.


10 comments to A lot of concern suddenly about Census intrusiveness where there was none.

  • We’ve been searching for a really perfect getaway, after reading this page I’ve got a much better idea of which place to go now. It is always wonderful to have someone else’s knowledge on spots to go prior to taking the actual plunge.

  • Brammer

    Although spoken in context of the census issue, Maxime’s “out of your bedrooms” statement is sure to offend the Reformer Social Conservatives base.

    Methinks Maxime is “incrementally” working on differentiating himself from Steve in the run up to a perhaps not too far off leadership contest.

  • ck

    As mentioned, the forms will probably stay, but Steve will still do what Steve likes.

    To Steve, Canada is his playground and Canadians are nothing more than Fisher Price people.

    He doesn’t care about his long term reputation. He is looking for that perfect storm for his fall election.

    Right now, in spite of a rocky start, Iggy’s bus tour is starting to get some positive press slowly. Steve wants to knock those wheels out before that positive press continues to grow. Thus, the emergency meeting. Hence, the emergency meetings. Iggy’s bus tour is now on hold until Wednesday. Honestly, I’m not sure how well Iggy is going to handle this one, given Steve’s game of the perfect attack. He’s already got flunky Dimitri projecting the imagery of statscan bureaucrats literally standing there, overlooking a bedboard (such a prude he is)watching folks’ pillow talk.

  • JMR

    In my opinion no one thinks about the census until it is upon us so I would like to adk Tony Clement to explain just which and how many Canadians he has spoken to and what number of those actually object to the census long form.
    A distraction is what I think this is all about

  • Soudas is an idiot. But then again, he’s not speaking to progressive Canadians or even those with heads on their shoulders. Dimitri Soudas is speaking to other idiots — people naturally agitated with “the government,” who, ironically, probably support THIS government.

    He’s speaking to people who are ignorant, who think that the census is a waste of their time. Add a little CPC ideology in the mix, and now the census becomes an “invasive” waste of time. The only purpose the census serves, to Mr. Soudas and other CPC flying monkeys, is to give the bureaucrats and “elitists” something to do.

    I remember filling out my census form and it wasn’t all that bad. That being said, I was surprised at its length. Did it keep me away from ‘reading” at 10 o’clock at night? No. I wasn’t filling out my census night and day like Soudas’ comment insinuates. In retrospect, it was anything but a burden on my life. But he doesn’t care what MY experience was. He wants to reinforce the opinions of the perennially agitated and galactically stoopid. And to me, that’s the problem with the framing of the census debate.

  • I second your vote on Dimitri’s statement, but really how few important government statements are based on a glancing and unexplained reference to Jedi knights.

  • My main observation this morning, however, has to do with the Conservative government’s allies in the blogosphere and in the think-tanks out there, that are rushing to defend this move and to try to paint the mandatory longform census as invasive on privacy and so forth.

    I have to say, watching the Fraser Institute getting ripped to shreds has been more than worth this whole thing. Gordon and Milligan (?) have been relentless in exposing those idiots as the CPC hacks they are.

    I wish we had an election over the issue, I can see the CPC ads now…

    *ominous music*

    statisticians… in your bedroom…

  • Michael

    The Harper government wants to axe the long-form census to facilitate social spending cuts by pointing to the inaccuracy of data being used by groups to justify their funding requests. Period.

    The balance of the debate about census data is a distraction.

    • ck

      Michael; long form census or not: Steve is planning to cut social programs and pretty much shape policy according to his ideologies anyway.

      I think in the end, the forms will end up staying because his friends, the Evangelical Christians as well as those Jewish groups he has been pandering to want him to keep the foms. But make no mistake, he’ll use them simply to line the bird’s cage or put them through the paper shredder. He will still cut social programs and do whatever he pleases anyway.

      • Michael

        @ck, While I agree with you generally, that’s hardly the point. Why give him more ammo, more excuses? Why give him another free pass, an easier route to achieve his objective?

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