By now you’ve probably heard that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is axing the mandatory long-form Census questionnaire, supposedly in the name of safeguarding the privacy of Canadians.
It’s remarkable all the fake problems this man finds to “fix” while ignoring very real problems like climate change.
His tough-on-crime legislation is a classic example. He’s spending billions of dollars to expand the prison system, even though crime rates have been falling for decades and there’s a huge body of evidence proving this approach to crime doesn’t work.
I used to work for an organization that made extensive use of Census data. We were part of a coalition of non-profit organizations and municipalities who pooled our resources to purchase this expensive – and valuable – data from Stats Can. We used it to generate statistical profiles of cities and neighbourhoods across Canada. We were essentially mapping social and economic conditions across the country, right down to the FSA geographic level (first three characters of a postal code).
Census data is purchased, shared, mapped, analyzed and used by literally thousands of organizations across Canada. They design policies and programs, allocate resources and base critical decisions on this data. They monitor Canada’s social progress (or lack thereof) with it. It’s used by researchers, urban planners, social scientists, hospitals, school boards, social planning agencies, United Ways, universities, business, and all levels of government itself.
So many people and organizations are calling for this decision to be reversed, because Census data is a crucial tool in their work. But Harper remains steadfast in his refusal to reconsider. He didn’t consult with those who use the data before deciding to axe it, and he’s not going to change his mind now just because they’re unhappy.
So what does Stephen Harper have against the Census anyway?
Privacy concerns, he says.
This is absolutely and obviously not the truth. I’ve seen and worked with this data. It’s made up of huge tables of numbers. There are no names. There is no personally identifying information.
What’s the real reason?
I believe it’s because Prime Minister Harper finds it irritating when people use data to back up their arguments against him and his policies. He has a long history of favouring ideology over evidence. He is notoriously dismissive of experts and facts.
A person could spend their entire career thinking about and studying something, thereby accumulating a wealth of knowledge and insight far greater than Harper could ever hope to possess on the subject, and Harper would simply scoff and implement a policy or eliminate funding to a program based solely on his own opinion.
It’s my opinion that Mr. Harper is now taking his personal contempt of evidence to the next level. Rather than simply ignoring the evidence, he’s literally eliminating it so nobody can use it against him.
The Globe & Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson wrote a terrific column – PM’s Census Policy Senseless, but Great for the Party. It left me feeling weirdly sorry for Tony Clement, the Minister responsible for holding this latest bag of Harper’s steaming excrement.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Dan Gardner wrote this: Statisticians go wild -
When the number-crunchers get angry, government should know it made a mistake.
If you want to add your voice to the growing number of Canadians who want the mandatory long form questionnaire reinstated, there’s an online petition here.
Canadian Social Research Links has tons of links on this subject.