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The legal fight begins on the Census.

With regards to the Conservative government ditching the mandatory aspect of the longform census, there have been more then a few charges that this move is not constitutionally legal. Basically, the argument has been that this move violates the Official Languages Act, as well as the Constitution. There have been more then a couple of analysts who say the former allegation has merit. Both allegations are about to be ruled on in Canada’s courts:

Census: All-out legal attack launched

A French-Canadian group is launching a legal attack on multiple fronts against the federal government’s move to scrap the mandatory long-form census. The group has not only asked Federal Court to […]

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 […]

More stupidity revealed on Census changes

We find out today that 25 million of the 30 million extra dollars that the Conservatives are spending on making the mandatory longform census a voluntary survey is actually going to be used to explain to potentially confused people how they screwed the census up because of their ideological idiocy on the census. Some of the background to that is revealed by this Canadian Press report, albeit from the Conservatives insider(s) point of view (no surprise either that the PM is solely responsible for this debacle).

The only surprise to me is how Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz managed to convince his boss that farmers should continue to suffer under the […]

All of mainstream Christian-dom now opposes Census change!

The entire spectrum of mainstream Christianity now opposes the Census decision:

The country’s Roman Catholic bishops have joined the chorus asking the federal government to reverse a decision to scrap the mandatory long census form.

In case you’re counting, they join the Anglicans, the United Church (which happens to be the church I’m a member of), and The Fellowship of Christian Evangelicals in condemning this, not to mention the Canadian Jewish Congress. Who’s left from Judeo-Christiandom that will stand up with Harper and rail against government tyranny!!?

Maybe Harper’s small church will issue a statement and come to his rescue.

More seriously, this is why the Census continues to be […]

More on the Conservatives trying to hide behind StatsCan, Mr. Sheikh

Briefly, My colleague the Jurist at his blog details some more blanket condemnations of the Conservatives bone-headed/ideological move to kill the mandatory longform census, but he did miss one article that should be read – C.E.S Franks at the Globe and Mail explains why Munir Shiekh resigned, and the probable chain of events. He isn’t impressed:

The problem Mr. Sheikh faced was not the choice between voluntary survey or mandatory census, but that the minister went public with inaccurate claims about the advice he had received. Mr. Clement was selective to the point that his public claims have not accurately reflected the advice given by Statistics Canada and its public […]

Ladies & Gents, your 2011 Voluntary Longform Census – Conservative-style

Sham(wow) arguments on the Census from the Conservatives

The Conservatives are doing two main talking points trying to defend their decision to scrap the mandatory longform census. It’s wrong to send people to jail if they don’t want to answer the mandatory longform, and the questions are too intrusive.

Putting aside that it appears no one in the history of Canada’s census has anyone ever been put in jail for not answering the questions, let’s remind folks of the holes in those arguments:

– the shortform census still has those penalties, yet I’ve not seen them mention anything about the oppressiveness of that. Other forms like the Agricultural Census are still mandatory. When asked about that, Tony Clement […]

Census hearings today.

Kady of course provides her usual fine live-blogging commentary. A recap can be found here.

My initial thoughts: those in the science/stats community generally handed the Conservative MP’s their lunch at the hearing, and as far as I was concerned, Clement’s testimony and answers to questions seemed to be using the lines “we Conservatives love freedom” and “Liberals want to throw everyone in jail”, regardless of what question was asked.

Best commentary on him was from a comment I saw at Macleans, that I totally agree with:

The strongest point for the Opposition in today’s committee hearing so far is that at the same time the Minister claims to […]

So Mr. Taylor and I agree on the census thing…

Mr. Stephen Taylor decided to publish thoughts on the Census controversy yesterday. Of course, he is cheering that move on, all for it. What may surprise you is that we agree on at least one point – the government’s motives behind this move. I and others have suspected that this move to kill the mandatory longform census is less to do with privacy concerns, and more to do with trying to prevent governments from having reliable data – to see certain social problems or inequalities for instance – because it will be harder to target them with programs, or revamp initial ones. Stephen doesn’t exactly say he suspects the same […]

Cons, Clement have been plugging their ears on census from orgs.

So, the National Statistics Council has issued a press release (detailed at the link from Macleans) calling for a compromise over the contentious changes the Conservative government had tried to issue in secret to the Census in killing the longform mandatory aspect of it. Basically, keep the longform mandatory, but remove the threat of jail time for those who refuse to answer it, and commit to studying what questions might be too “intrusive” or not in time for the 2016 Census.

There is nothing in there that I object to; I think what they suggest makes sense, and the government would be wise to accept those recommendations. What’s more […]

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