The new census plan is a disservice to all Canadians

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I was going to write a long ranty post about the federal Conservative party's asinine plan to scrap the long form from the next Canadian census in 2011. But Beth did a much better job. What's puzzling is that Statistics Canada is renowned around the world for its excellent work, and I've never heard it accused of misusing or leaking census information.

Despite opposition from groups of all political stripes across the country, the government is being intransigent. I hope that if they do manage to screw up our next census by removing the long form, the Conservatives get turfed next election and the new government will reinstate it. I'm dismayed that senior ministers today seem either not to understand how demographic statistics work and must be used, or are letting a poisonous ideology override what understanding they might otherwise have.

Regardless, cancelling the mandatory long form (available from StatsCan, if you want to see the "controversy") is a stupid move, and a disservice to everyone in the country.

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Of course, the government isn't cancelling the long form. They are moving it from mandatory to voluntary. The census will still be taken. Stats Can will still send people en masse to poll people missed when the mailings are completed.

Mischaracterizing this issue will get you nowhere. When the long form census starts arriving in people's mailboxes next year they're going to look hard at you and all the others in the chattering class who went apeshit about this and wonder why the hell they got a form that was supposedly cancelled.

The only thing that will change is that when people don't fill out their long form census, and the Statistics Canada representative who shows up at their door insisting that they comply, the non-compliance doesn't lead to legal action.

Besides, who says the threat of jail improved the quality of the responses anyways?

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