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New poll: Canadians support keeping mandatory census by 2-1 margin.

I’ve been telling many of our Conservative friends who’ve been pointing to the Ipsos-Reid poll saying that nearly half of Canadians said the changes to getting rid of the mandatory longform were “good” to wait on other polls before asserting that number to be rock solid.

And sure enough, courtesy of Norman Spector in the Globe, comes word of a new Angus-Reid poll released today that shows overwhelming support for retaining the mandatory longform census:

.. according to the poll (margin of error 3.1 points), 52 per cent of Canadians think the government should reverse its decision and keep the mandatory long form census. Only 27 per cent support the decision to replace it with a voluntary form (24 per cent of Canadians think the long form is overly intrusive).

Nearly three in five Canadians think the long form yields data that is important in the formulation of public policy (53per cent of Conservative supporters).

Some thoughts:

a) I’m not going to take cheap shots at the Ipsos-Reid poll. At the time, perhaps it was accurate of the people on its online survey panel, but possibly the resignation in protest of the decision by the Statcan chief statistician (as well as the overwhelming opposition that has developed against this from various organizations and newspaper editorials and columnists) caught Canadians attention as to the serious stupidity of the Conservatives move, and it’s reflected in this new poll.

b) I’m pleased to see a majority of even Conservative supporters acknowledge that the mandatory longform is important for public policy formulation – perhaps that party doesn’t have as many Tea Party folks in it as the Conservatives hoped.

c) Will the Conservatives back down? Probably not until other polls confirm these numbers, but this is a very poll-conscious party. I predict if they receive additional backlash against this from the public, those in the CPC who have an ideological hatred of the mandatory longform will give way to hasty pragmatism and drop this boneheaded idea.

d) When even Tom Flanagan, Harper’s former mentor, thinks this was a dumb idea, and says so publicly, see point c).

e) Yes, the Angus-Reid poll is also an online poll, as was Ipsos. My dislike and mistrust of online polls and whether they are truly random/accurate or not does remain in effect, despite the fact this is obviously a poll result I like. I’m waiting to see what the pollsters that use the traditional tried and true  telephone poll show when they poll on this topic.

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23 comments to New poll: Canadians support keeping mandatory census by 2-1 margin.

  • Hard data obtained from the anonymous census long-form clearly helps in setting public policy and planning. This hard data provides the public with vital information that helps them make the case for many government-financed initiatives. Do some initiatives go against the Harper conservatives vision of what the public should be entitled to? In the absence of hard census data, the conservatives can ignore well-supported arguments and instead implement their view of what public policy and planning should be. No wonder they have dug in their heals on this issue, and keep spouting off their silly talking points that the government will put you in jail if you fail to fill in the unanimous census long-form questionnaire.

  • Stan

    Europe ditched the long form type of census years ago, odd the CBC never mentions that.
    Shouldn’t it be mandatory they tell us the truth?

    • Jon Pertwee

      @Stan, Um, Stan… Im not sure if you were awake in school this day but Europe isn’t a country.

      The interesting thing is Stan, since the formation of the EU in 1973, they have had compulsory census that involve the member countries. Their next one is coming up in 2011.

      In fact here’s an article about the EU urging Bosnia and Herzegovina to adopt a mandatory census.

      “”The lack of a census in 2011 would be unfortunate for Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of its EU perspective. Moreover, it would make it more difficult to solve important socio-economic questions because of the lack of reliable statistical data,”

      “Bosnia and Herzegovina risks being a country that will not join the international community in this important exercise,”

      http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/25282/

      So Stan, maybe you should consider doing a bit of research before you try to make something up.

    • You obviously haven’t been keeping up, Stan. I’ve already written here about that; but here is yet another reminder: The Europeans generally use far more intrusive measures to collect data then the census ever has.

  • Stan

    I guess you missed the irony of using a voluntary poll to show support for a mandatory census.

    But then as 73% of people know, 87% of liberals don’t use logic to arrive at conclusions.

    All hail the Jedi knights!

  • Jay-TO

    Whats wrong with saying you are a Jedi master? Scientology and Christianity are as fictitious. You guys don’t have a monopoly on bullshit. What ever happen to freedom of thought and freedom of religion? Religions are all made up so who really cares?

  • Do you get those voluntary polls or surveys from your Alma Mater or professional organization? Do you complete them? These surveys ask if I am working, where I am working, and in what position I am working. Most of the time, I do not. When I wasn’t working, did I reply to the survey stating that I was not working? No, I did not even bother completing the form. If other people were like me, my university would receive replies from people of which 99% were employed when in reality, the numbers could be lower.

  • JMR

    All this nonsense about how many bedrooms you have in your house or horrors how many bathrooms. When you put your house up for sale these are the exact facts that are needed to sell. Is anyone worried about these facts getting out? Then you also have to say how much you pay in property tax and an approximate amount of heating costs I ask again is anyone worried? All this too private to declare if so tou’ll not sell your house.

  • I just saw the 2006 long form questions. I can’t see any question that might be considered embarrassing to me. However, I might be worried if under “occupation,” I had to state that I was a hooker. I might instead write fisherman, seamstress, professional hockey player, or Conservative MP.

  • SteveV

    Scott, you’re suspicion of online polls has been proven to be baseless. From the last election:

    http://farnwide.blogspot.com/2008/10/ranking-pollsters.html

    I’d add, AR’s online poll has also proven to be the most accurate in several recent provincial elections. I prefer to look at the outfit, rather than the methodology, and on this score AR is very credible. Also, Nanos and others are moving towards online polls, in part because the “tried and true” telephone surveys are problematic as well. People can stubbornly persist with a bias, but if you have an open mind, you have to concede that AR has shown itself to be amongst the better pollsters in Canada. The numbers are the numbers, and that should be the ultimate judge. Two cents 🙂

    • canadiansense

      @SteveV,
      Sadly will agree with Steve V Angus did the best in 2008.

      • As I’ve already stated – not convinced. I trust a stat guy like the folks over at fivehundredthirtyeight.com, and if he says there are problems with this methodology, (and he’s listed evidence to prove it) I put a lot of credibility into what he says.

        • Canadiansense

          @Scott Tribe,
          You can simply check with each pollster and their predictions (it is public knowledge) I am not sure how you can dispute AR was the most accurate in their prediction for October 2008. I don’t need to link the numerous websites and their final numbers but it exists and has not had the same problem as the CRU with their data.

          • It’s not that. If that’s what the study says about AR, bully on them. I’m talking of the overall methodology in general used for online polling/panel samples. It’s been shown by Nate Silver to be rather inaccurate when used in the US.. and the telephone polling companies were on the whole more accurate with their polling on the UK election then the online ones were.

            If AR has found the magic way to make online panels accurate, then credit to them. I’m just not convinced from seeing these other examples that it will always give as accurate a result (yet) as traditional phone polling (random sampling and such). Perhaps that will change.

  • Harper will only measure how this plays in his base support though. Even with a slim majority of conservatives not supporting Harper on this, his calcualtion may be that it doesn’t matter sufficiently to the naysays, or that they will come around.

  • CanadianSense

    Since this poll was not mandatory it can’t be taken seriously.

    • @CanadianSense, Since this poll is a scientific poll, it definitely can be taken seriously. Are you Tea Party guys going to now start questioning the results of scientific polls. too? You guys just don’t like science and stats, period.

    • @CanadianSense,

      Scientific polls have their problems too; however, as the census is striving to determine far more detailed and specific information and that there is a clear responder bias precisely within groups that the census needs to hit, a random census isn’t reliable.

      The US played with a voluntary-only census several years back, and learned that voluntary-only response to a census isn’t reliable.

      As the information is rendered anonymous, this isn’t such a big deal. And, frankly, I’d rather have a government working from accurate information rather than inaccurate.

      Plans to rely upon private data sources is suspect. And I have to tell you, private data sources know crap about me. What they do know is made up (my apartment is a house, I make $250,000/year…). I even refuse to use Air Miles.

      • canadiansense

        @Mark Francis,

        As a Jedi Master I have raised very few objections to the Census. Decriminalizing the long form should not be an issue but the talking points are identical to the ‘science is settled’ camp.

        I don’t pretend to argue with experts on CAGW or Census. I look to other countries and what they are doing. Chimera is doing very little to reduce Co2 and we don’t matter.

        Europe has/is moved/ing along the same lines with changes to how Census is done. Some using other databases in developing policy. That was the logical step in the debate or discussion.

        I applaud the efforts by many to demand we use data that is 7 years old to make policy that may take another 2 years to implement.

        This is another issue that will be distorted with the left claiming it is an ideological attack from a right wing party that is intent on destroying the country.

        • jon pertwee

          @canadiansense, “This is another issue that will be distorted with the left claiming it is an ideological attack from a right wing party that is intent on destroying the country.” Nothing like a bit of teabag paranoia to start the morning.

  • Gayle

    “Will the Conservatives back down?”

    Let’s just see if they ramp up the rhetoric. Then we will know their answer. However, Sheikk resigning means their exit strategy of blaming StatsCan is now gone. Will Clement be thrown under the bus? If so, will he go public with the fact it was all Harper’s idea and he opposed it (if the rumours to that effect are true).

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