Comment 44283

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 20:33:08

•most countries get along without such a thing
- If you see the wikipedia article on "census" you'll find that most modern countries have a census in some form or another, although some are just population based, others, especially in developed countries, contain more substantial information.
•political, media and consumer polsters manage to come up with polls (valuable enough for people to pay for) despite having no powers of imprisonment for non-compliance
- Yes, but when you ask people for opinions rather than facts you generally have no shortage of people willing to speak. The census is about facts, which people volunteer much less readily, especially if they actually have to think or research the answers, like figuring out how much they contributed to their RRSP last year.
•the government maks oodles of money selling this data - which makes motives for keeping it at least slightly suspect
- No suspect movtives at all. If anything as a net income generator they should keep the census as a way to fight the budget defecit, no?
•the government does more and more "for our own good"; a step away from creeping nannystatism - even backwards - is refreshing and good for everyone now and again
- I don't see how eliminating the mandatory census does that. The census is about improving the information the government has to work with when making important policy and funding decisions. Removing that information does nothing but give governments less information when trying to make important decisions.
•there's something about the apologias which feel uncomfortably close to "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" to me
- I'm not quite sure what you mean, but statistical data they are obtaining is pretty much useless as far as tracking individuals and privacy concerns.
•there's something just wrong about not being allowed to say "no" when the government just wants to know more about you for no immediate reason (vs. wanting to know your income for taxation purposes, or your address in order to issue a driver's license) - it's a bit of an affront to the course of our political history, which has been in the direction of increasing respect for individual dignity and respect
- I'm concerned by your use of the phrase "immediate reason". Isn't targeting the delivery of healthcare and social services an "immediate enough reason"? The information statscan obtains is used, not "immediately" if by immediately you mean by the end of the year. But why should the immediacy of the use matter? If they have a reason for measuring this information, and they can put this information to good use, why it be any different than the information you give the Canada Revenue Agency, the Ministry of Transportation, or the employment insurance office?

People still think statscan and these numbers are irrelevant. Sure the average Canadian doesn't use statistics, but that doesn't mean they're not important. Numerous groups, including provincial governments are saying we need this information, and we need it to be accurate. Why are we still having this debate?

As an aside, I also think that like the gender neutral national anthem and political party funding, this was a non-issue that the government decided to bring up for whatever reason. I don't recall hearing people complaining and articles written about how intrusive the census is. So why manufacture a crisis where there is none? If it ain't broke...don't touch it!

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