Thursday, 26 August 2010

Another Day, Another Desperate Spin

So, the Liberals have found some spare vertebrae and have a draft bill to reinstate the mandatory long-form census. John McCallum, point-man on this, said: 'A voluntary survey will skew the picture of what Canada really looks like as lower income minority Canadians will be less likely to fill it out,' which is pretty much what everybody who knows anything about this stuff has been saying.

When I read what Dimitri Soudas said, I actually laughed out loud.
Dimitri Soudas, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, was taken aback by Mr. McCallum’s statement about minority groups and low-income Canadians.

“It is blatantly outrageous that this (Michael) Ignatieff spokesman asserts that minorities and the poor should be threatened with financial fines and jail time in order to fill out the long form census,” said Mr. Soudas.

The Liberals “constantly look down on working class people and think they aren't as civic minded as liberal elites,” he said. “We believe that freedom is an essential Canadian value, and we don't think that it is right to try to frighten or intimidate people into surrendering huge amounts of private information to the government.”

After yesterday's (was it only yesterday?) 'The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!' laff-riot triumph of Cold War rhetoric, methinks the wheels on the ReformaTory bus are wobbling a bit.


I fervently hope.


Chet Scoville said...

I have no idea what planet Soudas thinks he's living on.

Dylan said...

Well said.

I also laughed when I read Soudas' comments. That being said, I don't think that persons with higher incomes are more likely to fill it out than those with lower incomes; which is to contradict what McCallum is saying.

However, the voluntary survey will not give policymakers a complete picture of social and economic trends for the beginning of the the 21st century in Canada. This puts lower income Canadians, and those who rely on public services, at a disadvantage. What if only rich people fill out the census? Now we're painting Canada as a place where the vast majority are homeowners and drive multiple cars. That kind of Canada doesn't exist everywhere and the people who rely on public services *probably* do not fall within that category either.

So McCallum is (sorta) wrong and Soudas' has his hands over his ears and his eyes blindfolded while screaming words like "VISITOR!" "ELITIST!" and "FREEDOM!"

The Liberals need a real, honest to goodness press conference on the Hill with the gauntlet ready to be dropped from the mouth of Ignatieff. Not McCallum, not Brison, not Rae.

Personally, I like the idea of dropping the fines and jail sentences, and incentivizing the long-form census with an income tax break. Say, $100 bucks.

You either "tax" people by making them fill it out with the threat of a fine or prison, or you "subsidize" it through tax breaks. Either way, the extreme right or left side of the political spectrum won' be happy. And I think we can expect what kinds of arguments giving Canadians an incentive to filling out the census will come forth from the CPC government and their legions of flying monkeys.

In the final analysis, the Fall is either going to be extremely interesting if the Liberals gain a spine and actually DO something to stop the Harperites, or it will be mundane and disappointing.

JJ said...

Ha! That's a real stretch.

This is good news: the long-form census provides a lot of incredibly useful data about different communities, and should not be used as a political football.

I'd like to see the long-form retained, absent of the empty threats. As Dylan said above, it would work better to provide incentives instead.

ck said...

The threat of jail has been removed in this new private members bill. It was mentioned.

If Soudas is still playing the threat of jail card, then he's been taking reading lessons from the Senator Jacques Demers.

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