Thursday 15 July 2010

Bernier regurgitates Con speaking points about long-form census. (more and more)

Today on Radio-Canada the putative dauphin to the ReformaTory leadership Maxime Bernier mouthed PMO speaking points, 'splaining why the Stats Canada practice of compelling citizens who receive the census long form to fill out the questionnaire is EVIL. (Note: Bernier was Minister of Industry when he first joined Harper's cabinet.)

1. It is a blatant and intrusive invasion of privacy. (The interviewer said that only 3 complaints were filed with the Privacy Commissioner in the last decade. Bernier did not respond to this fact.)

2. There are too many questions, people don't want to fill it out and Harper's New©™ Government gives the people what it wants. Power to the sheeple!!!

3. There are thousands of people (not just with the long form, though) who have said that their spiritual beliefs are informed by the religion of Star Wars. Heathens!!! Why do they hate Canada?

Bernier churlishly added that critics - municipalities, academics, and other "special interest" groups can damn well pay for the research, studies and data they need.

Opposition to yet another ill-advised and capricious Stevie Spiteful decision, here.

Update. Tony Clement's communiqué - which desperately attempts to justify the abolition of the mandatory long-form census - is, as Hill Queeries observes: "full of half-truths, red herrings, misdirection, scaremongering, and a straw man or two".

As for census data users - a wide range of federal, provincial and territorial governments departments, municipalities, non-profit organizations, community groups, academia, private industry (which includes licensed distributors and the media) - their needs were conveyed to Stats Canada during a scheduled consultative process. There's a report here.

Has anyone suggested this may be a Con attempt to undermine Stats Canada and to privatize data collection? Data users could be forced to pay twice and three times as much as Stats Canada charges now (read BCL on that issue) for less consistent/reliable information from profiteers.

It was almost 2 years ago that a MASSIVE poll was run by KLR Vu Research for an anti-abortion group. Perhaps Stevie and his bullies are cancelling our national, exemplary and internationally respected data collection service for the benefit of push-polling outfits owned by ReformaTory benefactors.

More delicious insider info, at Impolitical.

From the Toronto Star:

“Harper does not like StatsCan, that’s what we kept hearing,” according to a longtime employee of the agency. “In particular, he does not like the analytical work we’ve done for years.” The Prime Minister thinks of it as fodder for critics.

Sure enough, it’s the analytical work that he has been decimating. Gone, truncated or privatized are surveys that kept track of pensions and benefits at our places of work; the proportion of our incomes going to housing, vacation, medical expenses to see how well or badly we all were doing; the level of inequality among Canadians; the economic integration of immigrants; and how people with physical and mental disabilities were coping.

“When these surveys were being cut back, the concerned federal departments were told not to comment on how that might muck up their work,” said the source. “They were told to shut up. The message had come from the top.”

Will Harper reverse his decision? Will glass be shattered and furniture smashed, will rugs be chewed and holes gouged in the walls, and will the temp help have to coaxed out from underneath the desks again? Stay tuned.


fern hill said...

Here's my long-form story. Once I got the long-form. They're not kidding -- it's loooong. The questions aren't the same every year. Some statistician gets a bug up his/her butt and adds and subtracts questions. This has gotta be 20 years ago.

So, there was one question I was adamantly opposed to answering. Well, a pair of questions. One: how many children have you had? OK, fair enough, this is a census. Counting people is the point. But the other one: how many pregnancies have you had? pissed me right off. Weird, but I don't remember now if there was some supplemental to that, like 'And what happened?'

How many pregnancies I've had ain't nobody's business. I mean, how many ways is that question just plain WRONG? First, it was totally sexist. Did they have a corresponding question for men -- how many irresponsible gametes have you created? No. What is the policy purpose of it -- beyond panty-sniffing? Beats me. Stats on abortions and miscarriages are available elsewhere.

Having got my back up, I decided there were 4 or 5 other questions I wasn't going to answer either. This was in the days when an actual person came to your door. I told the timid young woman who came to collect it that I hadn't answered all the questions. She looked like her puppy had just died. 'But you have to', she said. 'We'll see about that', I said.

I had two more go-rounds with the young woman at my door pleading with me to answer the other questions. Nope. (I was enjoying this, but then, I'm a bitch.)

Then her supervisor got me on the phone. All kindsa dire threats. And it's true, it's compulsory and there are serious penalties. But as I said, I was having fun and decided to see how far this would go before the Census Cops arrived with handcuffs.

More phone calls. Attempts at conciliation. Would I answer 5 of the 6? Nope. More phone calls. Four? I'm getting somewhere I thought. Nope.

And it went on for weeks. Alternating threats and cajoling.

The supervisor and I were getting to know each other pretty well. He laughed at my jokes. I laughed at his.

Upshot: I answered two more questions. All was forgiven.

Why on earth would the govmint do away with such a source of citizen-bureaucrat fun?

Oh. Fun. Right.

Pseudz said...

If I've understood the basic criticism of making the long form of the census voluntary it's that the sample would no longer be reliably random and that therefore the data gleaned would be essentially useless.

This may be another instance of HarperCon policy where historically opposed camps in the canadian political fabric again find alliance.

It's not hard to share opposition to such a blatantly stupid waste.

I suspect that a large number of the graphed data trend-lines that can be lengthened with each census would prove to be embarrassing to herr Hraper. I also suspect that it was known that whoever was tapped to make the announcement was gonna be called stupid - amazingly stupid . . . dim to the point of having to wear slip-ons.

I think that this whole thing is part of a Dauphin reclamation project. In the future . . . I see poor dumb Tony C sitting in his expensive gazebo wondering "WTF". Whose leadership raft will they sink next?

These guys are like the giant hogworts - global warming has increased their range . . . they cause blisters and blindness. Approach with caution.

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