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Why Harper keeps a tight lid on his Cabinet, & some sense on the Census.

When Conservative cabinet ministers give the occasional press conference on their own (Edit: ..and are forced to adlib from their PMO-prepared talking points), they tend to make a mess of it and say the darndest things that probably causes Harper and the PMO nightmares. Stockwell Day is your latest example of a press conference train wreck. Blogging colleague BCL already has detailed Stock’s “enlightening” comments on the census controversy, but his statements on data as it pertains to crime is even more bewildering:

The Treasury Board President also faced questions about the Conservative government’s commitment to cutting the deficit while spending billions of dollars on new prisons while the crime rate is, in fact, declining. Mr. Day doesn’t buy the view that crime rates are declining. Rather, he maintains crime is going unreported in Canada at “alarming” rates.

Reporters were left scratching their heads.

As Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen said at his Twitter account: There’s no mystery. If the numbers support Tory beliefs, they’re valid. If not, not. Statistics 101. (See also Dan’s column on this from last week.)

Speaking of the Census, here’s a novel idea – why doesn’t the government test both the voluntary and mandatory longform census, as was done in the US in 2003, and see if one works better then the other? That’s what the Statistical Council of Canada proposes:

Mr. McLeish said his professional society is pushing for both the mandatory and voluntary census forms to be distributed next year, so that the government can study the difference between the two, and make its decision based on the results.“Then they will know what the biases are. Otherwise, it’s totally untested,” Mr. McLeish said.

The only problem with this idea is it makes far too much sense. This Conservative government operates on ideology and hunches, not on facts and data – at least not on facts and data that contradicts their narrow mindset (See Dan Gardner’s tweet above as reference to why this idea probably will be rejected).

UPDATE @ 5:07 pm: Here are some excerpts from that amusing/bizarre press conference:

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3 comments to Why Harper keeps a tight lid on his Cabinet, & some sense on the Census.

  • Brammer

    As Big City Lib put it, summer is a “leash-free” park for back benchers. Except that Day is in the cabinet…

    The Niagara river runs South. We have always been at war with Eurasia. Resistance is futile.

  • There’s another problem with Day’s comment. Even if crimes are going unreported, by what logic does it follow that we need more prisons for these imaginary crooks? If they’re not reported, I would assume they’re not convicted either.

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