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It’s ideology, not concerns over privacy or coerciveness on Census decision.

Briefly, that’s what it looks more and more is the motivation behind the Conservative government to ditch the mandatory long-form census:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has acknowledged that switching to a voluntary census would make some data unusable for federal institutions, documents submitted Monday in Federal Court show…The government eliminated the mandatory long questionnaire in late June, arguing it was intrusive and the threat of jail was overly coercive. The decision resulted in the resignation of chief statistician Munir Sheikh, though Sheikh did draw up an order for the new, voluntary form of the survey before he quit his job in July. The order, obtained by the federation for the court case, describes the resulting impact on the data collected by Statistics Canada.“It is recognized that the quality of the data collected by the voluntary (survey) will be lower than that of a mandatory survey,” the order reads. It lists 39 federal institutions that use census data and goes on to warn that some information will simply be lost.

This government could have easily kept the mandatory longform census and removed any privacy concerns and alleged coerciveness by adjusting the questions and removing the potential jail sentence (which hadnt been used in Canada’s history in 400 years) but it chose to kill the LFC.

My conclusion? The Conservative government doesn’t care a whit about coerciveness or privacy, & more about hobbling govt services by hobbling data, because of its ideological hatred towards government and any involvement it may want to take in the economy or service or so forth. The best way to do that? Destroy or hobble the statistics and data that help to make informed decisions.


3 comments to It’s ideology, not concerns over privacy or coerciveness on Census decision.

  • Yes, this accounts for some of it, but because this whole thing appeared out of nowhere, I also suspect there actually was a money-making agenda behind it.
    Polling and market research is big business and corporations are doing it more and more. Though the federal cabinet may have been pretty ignorant of the implications, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that some of the players in this drama knew just now much corporations and agencies used the long-form data, and they thought they could pick up millions of dollars in contract polling once the long form was gone.

    • Namesake

      @Cathie from Canada, I’m not so sure about that, because w/o the up-to-date lng form census data, the polling co’s can’t over-sample & weight their findings properly on things like ethnicity, income, & education level, so on many topics, their findings will be equally worthless (gee, all 1,000 lonely old seniors who answered said they liked / hated X; I don’t understand why your rival’s product launch worked and yours blew up). And increasingly, they’re finding it harder & harder to deliver the goods, anyway, since fewer & fewer people participate in their stupid polls (we call screen, we hang up, we don’t have land lines, we swear at them)… Only that Tory hack Darrell Bricker (Mulroney’s ex-pollster) of Ipsos Canada endorsed this bone-headed move, which is probably going to hurt rather than help the market research industry, overall.

  • robert jones

    That was [and is] my conclusion from the start. Anti-government ideologues do not want technocratic tools to assist them with what they have no interest in doing Plus they get to make another little piece of government disappear. But that is the [not-so-] stealth agenda. The rest of the populistic bull is just distraction and dress-up for electoral exploitation.

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