Numbers are good

You know my dirty little secret: I like numbers and data and measuring things. The census debacle has been jaw dropping for me. Let me give you a little back drop on the whole thing:

  • Every five years Statistics Canada (StatsCan) takes count of who we are as a people. A lot of the resulting data is available for free from their Web site (I'll leave the issue of non-free data for another day).
  • In 2011 we're scheduled to have another census. You can read the questions online. Scroll through the top 3/5 of the page if you don't want to read the agricultural questions.
  • This year people decided it was time to get really upset about filling out a form that they've had to fill out on at least 6 other occasions. Obviously taking count only works if people actually respond to the survey. The results of the survey help direct funding to the right place and generally tell us what the people of our country actually do. Folks, this is not an "intrusion" on your privacy. This is you telling the government who you are without some kind of lobbyist political spin or media hype getting in the way. It's about communication.
  • So the government decided to make it a voluntary survey. Can you hear me twitching yet? Wait, it gets better! Making the census optional has resulted in more people being hired to collect the data than when it was mandatory. The voluntary survey will be more expensive but have less informative than if it were mandatory.
  • To add to the pile of insult the heads of StatsCan has resigned. He wants no part of this mess (ok, I made that part up...he actually said it like this ... no wait. that link doesn't work anymore. They've changed the text of the page. If you want to read what it used to say you'll have to get it from the CBC).
  • Which means that not only is StatsCan now, under the Harper government, less committed to doing its job. It's now also committed to covering up information. <scarcasm>BRAVO!</sarcasm>

Maclean's magazine has a pretty hilarious write-up of their solution--including communism, cows and firing people. If you're pretty depressed about the whole situation, go read the article. It'll make you feel better.

PS In case you're wondering: yes the Green Party supports the long form census as a mandatory collection of information. But we wouldn't send you to jail for not filling it out.

There are those who say this

There are those who say this is a move to enable the Harper regime to be able to say "well we didn't know that" or "can you prove that" when their decisions affect social programs and other measures that rely upon accurate data to administer. Kinda hard to argue with that view!

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