“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”

- The Washington Times

“One of the best books of the year.”

- The Hill Times

“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”

- National Post

“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”

- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV

“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”

- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics

“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”

- Huffington Post

“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”

- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio

“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”

- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory

“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”

- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD

“I absolutely recommend this book.”

- Paul Wells, Maclean’s

“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”

- Calgary Herald


Senseless census?

Tonight, I received this email:

Warren:

RE: Census.  You didn’t – I DID get charged by StatsCan and am on trial.

Finished presentation of evidence on March 16th. It was very clear that the Crown cannot win the case.  And is in serious breach of Charter Rights, using the coercion of jail and a fine to force people to hand over a ‘biographical core of personal information.’  It is possible that the Govt’s move to make the long form voluntary was to try and get them off the hook.  The Judge is scheduled to hear the arguments in my trial on Sept 9th.

I refused to cooperate with the census because of the out-sourcing of census work to Lockheed Martin Corp (American military).

Appended is part of an email I circulated recently.  You may be interested.

Sandra Finley, Saskatoon

So I went online and found coverage of Sandra’s trial here and here and here and here and here.

What say you, now, long-form census enthusiasts?  In my case, I objected to the highly-personal stuff I was being told to hand over (eg. the racial composition of my family, income, mortgage payments, etc.) - and, additionally, being told to hand over such personal stuff to governments, who I know from personal experience are really sloppy with pretty much all of the information that comes into their possession.  But at least I wasn’t prosecuted (although there are no shortage of [anonymous] federal Liberals now calling for me to be kicked out of the party for my insolence).

Sandra Finley wasn’t so lucky. How about a left-leaning woman being hauled into a court by the Harper government because she objects to government’s commercial interest in gathering data it uses the law to compel millions of people to provide?  How about that?

It’s Summertime, so I reckon about 70 per cent of the sound and fury surrounding the long form census controversy is seasonal.  You know, it’s silly season, etc.  So I am trying not to get too worked up about the whole thing.

But Sandra Finley’s case – and the dozens of other cases like it – certainly tests my resolve.

Comments are open.  Oh, and fill your boots, angry Grits: explain to me, please, why the Harper government is right to prosecute a 60-year-old peace activist, would you?



66 Responses to “Senseless census?”

  1. darcy says:

    Sandra Finley, Is or was the leader on the Sask. Green Party. It is the law to fill out the form. Until the law is changed you have to fill it out. Maybe Sandra doesn’t like driving 50 km per hour in downtown Saskatoon, She thinks 90 km per hour is good for her. Does she have the right to break any law she decides? If I recall she broke the law when Liberals where in power. The Liberals would have started the prosecution of Sandra.

  2. Blair Shumlich says:

    It’s clear you see it differently, but I almost see filling out the census in the same way I see paying taxes. It’s a sacrifice not many people like to make but it’s for the good of the country. Like a lot of people have said, there is a lot of private information which the government takes from you to do a variety of things: health, income tax, ect. I think that the good from the census supersedes people’s various oppositions to the census.

    What other alternative does the government have to prosecution? I like the idea of the exemption they gave you, but if you give one person an exemption you have to give them all an exemption.

    The fact that she is a a 60-year-old peace activist means very little. Should she be exempt from paying the portion of her taxes which goes to the military? Should a right-wing SoCon be exempt from paying taxes because he’s morally opposed to what the government is spending it on? I say no to both, why is the census any different?

    • Blair Shumlich says:

      In fact, the more I’ve read about her case the more I’m opposed to her. Her issue is that she doesn’t want to support Lockheed-Martin in any way. I can understand privacy concerns–like yours, Warren–to a point, but I think this protest is beyond silly. If she has a case, then every pro-lifer in this country should be allowed to avoid paying a % of their taxes which translates to the amount of money spent annually on abortions. Those who believe in the welfare trap shouldn’t be forced to pay tax dollars which go towards social assistance, and so on. Only that is silly, no? How is her case any different?

  3. Gord Tulk says:

    If it’s to be mandatory for some then it has to be mandatory for all. 

    Ms. Finlay’s objections about Lockheed Martin are silly, but the power of the census to single out citizens and jail them if they do not cooperate is unconstitutional – pure and simple. 

    This is going to be a big win for the CP when it is all said and done. 

  4. Alison says:

    Statistics Canada’s little-publicized commercial uses/abuses of data

    What commercial uses of data are you referring to?
    I’m not aware that Finley has made this charge.
    She objects to Lockheed Martin profiting from the data collection process, not that the data may be commercially used.

  5. bigcitylib says:

    1) Refusing to hand in your census because you fear Lockheed Martin is cuckoo. And if you visit the site devoted to census non-compliance, countmeout.ca, it looks like it was designed by kooks. In any case, what has that got to do with the long-form? Her complaint is not against the long-form per se.

    2) The Board of Trade and the other business groups that are lining up to express their dismay at this decision don’t DO the silly season, and most of them are usually Tory-centric. They’re concerned now because a huge number of the business decisions made day to day in this company involve making reference to census long-form data. If you’re in marketing, consulting, retail, etc., the information you use is directly or indirectly derived from the long form. Good Lord, man, not everything is about crude politics.

    • Warren says:

      Crude politics?

      What’s the name of someone’s blog, again?

    • ktron says:

      If business needs data, let them use their own income to conduct their own research. Isn’t there a name for the types of government who force citizen compliance to aid businesses?

  6. J. Coates says:

    These single issue idiots pissa me off.

  7. JStanton says:

    I had forgotten about this, it being overshadowed by subsequent daily outrages. We should be thankful for Sandra Finley following through.

    The cogent point is that Lockheed-Martin?s contractual obligations regarding data security are secondary to their obligations to the United States government.

    There can be no expectation of privacy in that case; essentially, the Canadian government is providing personal data about its citizens to the US government, unnecessarily and without their consent.

    Oh, I understand that the data source is obscured, but a process of deduction can lead back to the source in many cases. Which means that data integrity is compromised, because no-one in their right mind would provide clean data, if they did so at all.

    Surely its fundamental to the Charter that the relationship of citizens to the state should not be compromised by unaccountable commercial interests, especially when those interests are foreign, and beholden principally to foreign governments?

    • bigcitylib says:

      Last I heard about this (and I may be wrong), LM sold the software to StatsCan, so they’re not involved at all in the processing of the data, at least not anymore.

  8. Jeff P says:

    First of all, lets deal with the tired old Lockheed Martin story. They won a competitive bid to provide computer systems to Statistics Canada that will be used in the management of the census. That’s it. No one would be upset if Samsung or Dell won the contract that’s for sure. It’s a stupid conspiracy theory.

    Secondly censuses have been compulsory for…. hmmmm…… lets see…… Didn’t Mary and Joseph have to show up for a compulsory census about 2010 years ago? They are compulsory because they are critically important to the design of government policy. Warren you’ve been talking about the importance of helping others, giving people a hand ujp, and ensuring Canad’a strong safety net for as long as I can remember. The long form census gathers the information we need to do this.

    Some say that the questions are intrusive – but lets look at the famous bathroom question. For rich urbanites living in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver it’s a question that seem self-evident and inane…… Until the statisticians finish their work and we find that in Rosedale there is an average of 1 bathroom per person but on the 35 poorest aboriginal reserves in Canada there is an average of 18 people per bathroom. (or whatever, these aren’t real numbers, but I’ll bet you agree there is a big difference).

    So maybe we should be having a discussion about what questions are there and whether there is a legitimate policy need to ask – instead of having a blanket discussion.

    And yes, those who refuse should be prosecuted because the integrity of the data is critical.

    • Namesake says:

      And just for the record, the long form does _not_ actually ask the no. of bathrooms at all: that was Con. misinformation. (Tho’ it does ask about the no. of bed/rooms.*)

      And it’s pretty rich to hear the Cons — Bernier, of all people, as well as Soudas — out there channelling & mangling Trudeau’s quintessentially Liberal line about the state having no biz. in people’s bedrooms. They who would make them hetero- or totally non-sexual bedrooms only, if they could.

      * Q “H3. (a) How many rooms are there in this dwelling?
      Include kitchen, bedrooms, finished rooms in attic or basement, etc.
      Do not count bathrooms, halls, vestibules and rooms used solely for business purposes.
      (b) How many of these rooms are bedrooms?”

    • ktron says:

      >Jeff P says:
      > Didn’t Mary and Joseph have to show up for a compulsory census about 2010 years ago?

      Seems to me that story didn’t turn out so well . . . something about using the census data to find and kill all the two year old boys or . . .

  9. Wascally Wabbit says:

    I think – as a lawyer Warren – and as one who has ruminated in the past about the fundamental different between the arguments – for supporting the troops vs. the rationale for the Afghan war – you are apparently objecting to the content of (some of) the questions – NOT the purpose of the form itself!

  10. Paul R. Martin says:

    The prosecution of this lady is being carried out by public servants rather than the Conservative Party. My first job in 1967 was with the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. One of the reasons I quit in 1969 and got a MBA was that I just could not see the point for much of the stuff I was doing. A lot of the stats we produced were pure guess work rather than accurate numbers. Sure the long form stats are beloved by academics and marketers. So what! It is an unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Canadians. It is an example of a “big brother” mentality and quite likely is illegal under the Charter.

  11. Michael says:

    Like it or hate it, the census data collected through a mandatory long-form is more reliable than would be optional long-form data. Such data is legitimately used by groups and communities applying for social program funding.

    Harper is all too happy to create a less reliable database of statistics, because he’ll use it to facilitate social program cuts. And do you think anyone will be successful in pointing out that HE was the creator of the useless data mess in the first place? HA! That’s a convoluted message that just won’t sell, and you know it Warren.

    What’s happening here is pretty clear. Harper wants to cut the census so he can cut social programs. Warren, you’re making it easier for him by attacking the census too, instead of the real problem: appropriate stewardship of the data that is collected.

    So maybe we need stricter rules and greater oversight over what happens with the data. But the millions who rely on it for key government funding, failing to collect it just isn’t an option.

    • Paul R. Martin says:

      “Millions”??? “Key government funding”??? You greatly over state the benefits of the data that is collected. You also overstate its accuracy. If you think that those forms are always filled out accurately, think again.

      • Michael says:

        The data is understood to be more accurate, and accepted by most people and the government as being the most reliable data we have. The point is that, because the data will definitely be less reliable – as stated again and again by the experts – Harper will have greater latitude to ATTACK the data, just like he attacks the public service, the judiciary, experts who criticize him, etc.

        And anyone who thinks Tony Clement doesn’t understand sample selection bias is a fool. Of course he does. He also understands that talking bunk about sample selection bias will distract brainy liberals from the real story. Suddenly, this whole census thing becomes quite dull. As Warren always says: facts tell, stories sell. No one cares about the facts regarding sample selection bias; they WOULD care about program cuts being facilitated by the intentional skewing of data. Likewise, nobody cares about the Statscan’s impeccable record of safeguarding our data; what really sells are individual stories like the one Warren posted above.

        The whole thing is a friggin trap, and Liberals are walking into it…again.

        • Paul R. Martin says:

          Methinks you doth protest too much. Can you prove that any of the questions being deleted have a significant impact on the availability of social programs? There are other surveys and there are other means for the government to obtain information.

          I have little sympathy for conspiracy theories such as yours. The answer is much more simple. A large number of Canadians think that the majority of questions in the long forn are at best a waste of time to fill out, and at worst are none of the government’s business.

          Get over it. This issue will not have any traction in an election.

          • Jan says:

            ‘A large number oc Canadians’? The groundswell seems to be in the opposite direction. Harper obviously thought he could slide this change through without anyone noticing. And now he’s sending out Bernier to handle it – the guy that left classified documents at his possible security risk girlfriend’s house? Another great moment in Harper’s issue management.

          • Paul R. Martin says:

            What groundswell Jan? So far all I have seen is a group of Liberals trying to make political hay. This is not a hot issue.

          • Namesake says:

            re: “Can you prove that any of the questions being deleted have a significant impact on the availability of social programs….”

            Um… _none_ of the q’s are being deleted; try to keep up. They’re just going to make it a voluntary instead of mandatory survey, and send it to 50% more people (to a total of 30% of the populace), and to try to get a good, representative response rate & decent data, they’ll be expending an additional $30-M (yeah, fiscally prudent Cons!) to do a lot more harassing now that they’ve been deprived of their main sticks (all they’ll have left for the recalcitrant is carrots: you’ll be doing your duty, a great service, &, um we’ll stop bugging you.) And isn’t it unlikely that they’d sign off on that if they didn’t begrudgingly concede that there’s some utility to the data?

  12. briguyhfx says:

    I like her reasoning more than yours, Warren. You didn’t fill it out because you are an exceptionalist. She didn’t fill it out because she didn’t agree with the outsourcing of census data to a foreign firm.

    Neither one of you really understands the problem, though. By making the census voluntary, this government will be introducing statistical biases that we aren’t even capable of measuring. Certain reporters have claimed that “aboriginal groups will be underrepresented”, but they also miss the point: we don’t know who will be underrepresented. Neither does Harper. Nor do I. We’ll be spending $30-million extra dollars for a survey that will be biased in ways we don’t understand, and can’t understand. It actually makes more sense to scrap the entire long-form census than to make it the statistical equivalent of an online poll.

    This decision is both a fiscal and a policy boondoggle. The ignorance surrounding it is breathtaking.

  13. Rick T. says:

    So most of the comments the are for big Government intrusion into the bedrooms of the nation. Most of you do not get it. It is an invasion of my personal information. Take me to court and let’s see how effective the is Charter.

    • Warren says:

      I’m with you

    • Jan says:

      Tough talk given the chance of getting a long form is once in 25 years. Way to fight big government!!

    • Robbie says:

      Absolutely agree that this long census is an intrusive state device. Rafe Mair has been on this issue for years. Apparently, now anything that I do not say on the long census form can and will be used against me in a court of law. How does this square with my right to remain silent and other related privacy rights under the Charter? Never been terribly comfortable posting personal information on the laundromat bulletin board. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

  14. Sean says:

    …nice to see all those “anti socialist” / anti merger Liberals stomping down the red menace by (AHEM) supporting an intrusive government questionaire about our personal lives…

  15. Martin says:

    I have zero patience with this.
    Things we all have to do as Canadians:
    - pay our taxes
    - fill out the census
    - register deaths, births, marriages
    - be registered in school until you’re 16
    No mandatory service, no volunteering, no national population register, no identity card…Christ, we don’t even have to work if we don’t have to, and we’ll get some kind of income support. What is the matter with Canadians? Fewer than half of us seem to be able to pry ourselves away from reality TV even to vote, depending on which type of election we’re talking about.

    Lookit- the census isn’t about YOU. It’s about US. Nobody cares about YOUR information. They care about averages, aggregates, trends. Census data aren’t linked to anything else. There are more rules regarding who can see those data than there are to get into the Canadian Forces. The pains taken to make sure that no identifiable data are released, and the hoops jumped through to use these data are nuts, but that’s why.

    Maybe we should stop recording birth and death data? Maybe it’s enough to know that someone died, but, really–what business does the state have knowing what grandma died from? After all, it’s an intensely private matter. Never mind that it’s INCREDIBLY USEFUL to know if, say, deaths due to cancer are increasing.

    • ktron says:

      >Martin says:
      >it’s INCREDIBLY USEFUL to know if, say, deaths due to cancer are increasing.

      Dead people have to fill out the long form too?

  16. Michael says:

    I’m with you.

  17. Fritz says:

    Perhaps we should have voluntary tax returns as well as they have a ton of personal information about my financial situation. Now there’s a policy I could get behind.

  18. Johnny Tuna says:

    Exactly. Canada enforces very little in terms of community responsibility. I think that if you want the benefits that this country has to offer then you should be forced to offer up a smidgen of your personal data, to be used by statisticians. How private and personal is it how many bedrooms you have? It’s not as if they are collecting what you pay for on a visa card, or what shows you record on your DVR.

  19. wilson says:

    Make the long form census mandatory, but only in Western Canada,
    just like the Canadian Wheat Board!

  20. Namesake says:

    BTW / FYI, the Labour Force Survey — which runs every damn month — is mandatory, too. And a bunch of business surveys are mandatory. As is the req. for businesses to collect sales taxes for the govt. And the Dep’t of Justice periodically enforces all this, and are well aware of the scope of the Charter.

    Q: which authoritarian nanny-state pol said this in an officially approving way:

    “The Statistics Act specifically requires Statistics Canada to conduct a Census of Population and a Census of Agriculture in 1971 and every fifth year thereafter (national censuses became quinquennial in 1956). The Act also confers substantial powers on this agency to request information for statistical purposes through surveys of Canadian businesses and households. By default, response to Statistics Canada’s surveys is mandatory under the Act, with refusal to participate subject to legal penalties. The Act includes provisions to make participation in some surveys voluntary, and Statistics Canada has generally done so with respect to household surveys other than the Census of Population and the Labour Force Survey, which produces critical economic data. Surveys of businesses, including agricultural businesses, are conducted on a mandatory basis.

    Statistics Canada can also, by law, access all administrative records (e.g., tax data, customs declarations, and birth and death records). Such records are very important sources of statistical information, which enable it to reduce reporting burden on business and individual respondents. Statistics Canada is considered a leader among statistical agencies around the world in reducing reporting burden through the use of administrative data. Partnerships and cost-recovery arrangements with other departments, other jurisdictions and external organizations play a large role in reducing reporting burden. Statistics Canada continues to foster these arrangements as they have proven to serve the needs of the stakeholders as well as those of the national statistical system and the Canadian research community.

    These mechanisms help Statistics Canada and the Government of Canada provide Canadians with access to a trusted source of statistics and statistical products, services and analyses on Canadian society and its economy, which are relevant, are responsive to emerging issues, are of high quality and fulfill legal requirements.”

    A: Gee, it’s Captain Porkbarrel himself, Steamboat Tony:

    http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/2007-2008/inst/stc/stc01-eng.asp

    • Zachary Scott Smith says:

      Considering that this survey has been around since the end of the second world war, I am not sure what your point is.

      The Canadian Labour Force Survey was developed following the Second World War to satisfy a need for reliable and timely data on the labour market. Information was urgently required on the massive labour market changes involved in the transition from a war to a peace-time economy. The main objective of the LFS is to divide the working-age population into three mutually exclusive classifications – employed, unemployed, and not in the labour force – and to provide descriptive and explanatory data on each of these.

      http://www.statcan.gc.ca/cgi-bin/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&SDDS=3701&lang=en&db=imdb&adm=8&dis=2

      • Namesake says:

        The point is that participation in it is mandatory (like the short form Census and famers’ long form census still are) and/butt (your new favorite word) it asks lots of intrusive q’s about race, no. of rooms, mortgage/rent and more,

        http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/71-543-g/2010001/appendix-appendice2-eng.htm

        butt Minister Clement quite rightly insists that StatCan is within its rights to compel people to answer all that on pain of fines or prison, I.e., more Harpocrisy to be cherry picking when it is or isn’t okay to be invasive and coercive.

        Sure, there are fewer complaints since it only surveys about 18,000 per month, not millions every five years, but there’s very little evidence that this is based on complaints at all, as opposed to for crass political reasons: wanting to weaken “special interests” who use the Census data to lobby for things like affordable housing, and the other political parties who use it for targeted fundraising & campaigning.

  21. Zachary Scott Smith says:

    “explain to me, please, why the Harper government is right to prosecute a 60-year-old peace activist, would you?”

    Fair question. Yes as the law is the law no matter how bad and I would however like to see that section go all the way to the SCoC where it hopefully would be struck down.

    I would counter with, would the Liberals have prosecute this individual and just how many individuals have been prosecuted under this law and by year.

  22. jeb zacher says:

    The other morning on the Dave Rutherford Show, he was relating his struggles with the long form. He got one and refused to fill it out. He says he received several phone calls but that was it. No legal action.

  23. Gord Tulk says:

    Imagine if everyone had to do the long form. That would be the end of the long form.

  24. Darcy says:

    She used to lead the Sask Green Party, and is a passionate advocate. She can be a bit Kooky sometimes, but is putting in a decent fight this time..

  25. ml johnstone says:

    I think it is important to know how many Canadians have a pot to piss in and is it indoors or out or both.

  26. HonestB says:

    It’s one thing to say that some questions should be off-limits, that’s a debate that’s worth having. Eliminating the long form census altogether is very worrisome, though – good policy-making relies on good facts. I’d love to see the long form census modified, and the data administered, in a way that respects people’s right to privacy. I worry about the consequences of eliminating the long form census altogether.

  27. robert says:

    What crap, Warren!
    Harper saw in the census an opportunity to showcase, “small government”.
    Christ!
    Do you honestly believe the man is capable of extrapolating thought beyond his belly????????????

  28. Heather says:

    If your concern is privacy, have you read Dan Gardner’s latest column?

    How the Federal Government can really defend privacy

    • Warren says:

      In my case, it’s the intrusiveness of the questions, coupled with governments’ well-documented inability to safeguard our personal info – particularly in the digital age. If they can address my concerns about the latter, I can live with the former.

  29. Carol says:

    Sandra Finley is almost certainly right that the government was about to lose the case on a Charter challenge. The fact that she is a peace activist and conscientious objector to Lockheed Martin?s involvement is irrelevant (I don?t happen to agree with her on this particular point, but admire her for sticking to her, ahem, ?guns?). The Statistics Advisory Committee also probably dusted off its own legal opinion when it suggested the compromise it did.
    By way of background, here?s the text to which she referred from the Supreme Court of Canada?s decision to in R. v. Plant (1993), 84 C.C.C. (3d) 203, at page 213:

    ?In fostering the underlying value of dignity, integrity and autonomy, it is fitting that s. 8 of the Charter should seek to protect a biographical core of personal information which individuals in a free and democratic society would wish to maintain and control from dissemination to the state. This would include information which tends to reveal intimate details of the lifestyle and personal choices of the individual.?

    I ?get? the fact that a mandatory long-form census is necessary to avoid self-selection. I also get the fact that census information is also a good way to measure the effectiveness of government initiatives and to hold the government?s feet to the fire. And I even get the fact that housing costs as a percentage of income are important measures of affordability and quality of life. However, StatsCan and its advisory committee can only blame themselves for the current dilemma. By pandering to every special interest group that wanted to gather information and ignoring the fact that we are now in a post-Charter era where the government can?t simply intrude into privacy, they handed themselves lots of rope.

    Some of the questions on the long-form census are a disgrace and are just plain bad math.
    In the 1990s, there was intensive lobbying to include unpaid work (?women?s work?) in the census to get a picture of what women were actually doing and how hard they?re working. Somehow, when I look at the 19th century census records for my four great-grandmothers, I don?t think they were sitting around doing nothing when they had eight or more (surviving) children, few, if any, labour-saving devices and they did not have an occupation listed. I doubt that washboard on my laundry room wall was a mere decoration on their walls.
    StatsCan?s methods also lead to double counting. A full-time homemaker with pre-school children can twice account for the same time under housework and childcare. She?s not working twice as many hours, she?s multi-tasking. The one hour doesn?t magically change into two hours, but it does for statistical purposes.

    Let?s assume her husband is a supervisor in a factory who also works on the line alongside the people he?s supervising. His 40-hour week doesn?t magically become an 80-hour week because 40 hours are devoted to supervision and 40 hours to working on the line.
    But more important from the point of view of a free and democratic society, the mandatory question about just how much time someone spends doing housework, looking after children or seniors is none of anyone else?s business, certainly not that of the government. What goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. I will simply write ?refuse to answer? beside the question if I receive the long form.

    It?s also none of anyone else?s business who pays which bill (?refuse to answer?). My religion is none of anyone else?s business (?refuse to answer?). Income will be a global figure, not broken down.

    Go ahead, prosecute me. Let?s see if you get a conviction.

  30. Regular Guy says:

    I was contacted by phone last week from Statistics Canada regarding the Labour Force Survey, and politely refused to participate. I think this is going to get ugly.

    The intial call ended with me asking “what part of what I said do you not understand” – good day – click. In hindsight, it was rather funny when I told the caller I was on the Do Not Call list and that I do not want any further calls; obviously having no clue as to what I am up against. I was contacted a second time a day or so later and was again very polite in declining to participate for my own personal reasons that I did not wish to share with the caller. Stats Canada phone me again Friday evening – the third time in a week that I have talked to them (aside from two messages on my answering machine that I did not return), and it was this point that I became angry.

    What made me angry was that after informing the lady caller that I will not be sharing my personal information with anyone, particularily the goverment, her response was “it is mandatory”. My reply was “so, what are you going to do about it?”, to which she replied that they will continue contacting me until I provide the required information. I am not proud of my two word reply; but I am ok with hanging up on her.

    Arguments can be made for both participating and not participating in these surveys, however the fact is I have made a choice not to participate. And that is my personal choice. If others want to contribute their personal information to the goverment for the great good – I applaud you. I have done my being “Mr. Volunteer” in our community, and certainly contributed back to my community far far more than the average person, so the civic duty argument does not carry any weight with me whatsoever. I pay my taxes, was randomly audited last year by CRA, and would do my jury duty if requested.

    The fact for me is the government is in my face all too much nowadays, and I am tired of it. I am tired of living in a “nanny state” with professional politicians who have never ran a business worth more than $5 bucks in their lives deciding what is good for me. From implementing the HST in BC – a consumption tax when we are trying to get people spending again after this recession, lowering the impairment level to .05 in BC despite nine years of reductions in impaired driving (oh yes, and a sitting premier of our province who was recently charge with drunk driving while on vacation in Hawaii – who I guess has found god now), telling us that we have to pump our own gas and that gas attendants are now banned, and my incompetant municipal goverment who can’t control their bureaucracy and has given me six consecutive years of 5% property tax increases – I guess you can see where I am going with this. I don’t trust the goverment, I don’t want anything to do with the goverment, and I want them out of my life other than making sure my garbage is picked up. And now I have a goverment clerk who expects me to provide a 25 minute interview to provide extremely, and I mean extremely, personal details to the goverment about me and my family, and who will follow up once a month for the next six months for updates. I am just not participating whatsoever.

    I see there are many people here who would be happy to provide this information to the goverment, so the logical approach would be to contact people like these next on the list who are willing to help. Maybe one day when the goverment has done something for me, rather than reducing my disposable income year after year and/or provide me with more and more hurdles and fees each year to operate my business in – I might even be willing to participate. I doubt that though as I was raised as, and am, a rather intensly private person anyways.

    So, the goverment can pursue me, and spend likely $1,000′s of dollars in trying to get the information from me, and should they wish to begin legal proceedings to the point of summary conviction and ultimately getting my $500 fine (good luck trying to get that by the way as I will not voluntarily pay that either), they will spend 10′s of $1000′s of dollars trying to get information that I am not comfortable in sharing with anyone – period. In my steadfast opinion, this is a free country and I will not be be bullied or forced by anyone to give up my privacy and personal information to anyone. I think it would be easier to go to the next person on the list, as I can see from the posts above many people feel differently than I; but that is the beautiful thing about living in a free county is that we can have different opinions.

    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/71-543-g/2010001/appendix-appendice2-eng.htm

  31. Dan says:

    January 13, 2011 – SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman was found guilty in Saskatoon provincial court Thursday morning of refusing to fill in the long-form census in 2006.

    I came across this site doing a little background search into the story of Sandra Finley’s arrest. What strike’s me is that after following the link in Regular Guy’s post above (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/71-543-g/2010001/appendix-appendice2-eng.htm) and reading over the questions, at no point is phone security determined, or even mentioned. Seems like a major oversight. This comes to mind for me because I used to have these computer speakers that picked up my neighbor’s wireless phone. A fluke I suppose but people do have scanners.

  32. [...] other discussions – about selection bias, Bernier invoking Trudeau, bedroom activities, and refusals to comply, regardless of their worth as stand-alone discussions, are a distraction from the real threat [...]

  33. Great post. I’m a regular visitor of your blog and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a long time.

  34. Namesake says:

    Well, few of us are lawyers, I’d wager, and even fewer have any real expertise on Charter challenges in particular. But I did note that the gov’t Dept of Justice is well aware of the Charter when it recommends enforcement of the Statistics Act on mandatory surveys like the Census & Labour Force Survey.

    Do you really think the govt’s legal experts on constitutional law would be: a) frequenting this site; & b) foolish enough to disclose their defense in an open forum before the trial?

    So I’d say it’s a bit premature to predict or declare a win.

    Tho’ there is a prima facie case to be made, of course.

    Here’s what one research paper on the topic said:

    “The supreme law of Canada is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.20 …Although ?privacy? as such is not mentioned in the Charter, the Supreme Court of Canada has taken section 7 regarding “life, liberty and security of the person” and section
    8, which protects the citizen from ?unreasonable search or seizure,? to mean that privacy is a fundamental right of all citizens in a democratic society. In Dyment the Supreme Court declared that ?privacy is at the heart of liberty in a modern state,? and a value that, “is essential for the well-being of the individual.” In a recent legal opinion on these issues,
    Jackson and MacCrimmon note:

    ‘In its jurisprudence the Supreme Court views privacy as a
    personal right of the individual, based on autonomy,
    dignity, liberty and security interests. In Dyment, Mr.
    Justice La Forest, in identifying those situations where we
    should be most alert to privacy considerations, adopted the
    concept of ‘zones of privacy,’ and identified three such
    zones: territorial, personal and informational. …
    Informational privacy ?

    ? “derives from the assumption that all information about a
    person is in a fundamental way his own, for him to
    communicate or retain for himself as he sees fit.” In modern
    society, especially, retention of information about one?s self
    is extremely important. We may, for one reason or another,
    wish or be compelled to reveal such information, that
    situations abound where the reasonable expectations of the
    individual that the information shall remain confidential to
    the persons to whom, and restricted to the purposes for which
    it is divulged, must be protected.22

    In the later decision of Plant, the Supreme Court explored further the zone of informational privacy:

    In fostering the underlying values of dignity, integrity and
    autonomy, it is fitting that section 8 of the Charter should
    seek to protect a biographical core of personal information
    which individuals in a free and democratic society would
    wish to maintain and control from dissemination to the state.
    This would include information which tends to reveal
    intimate details of the lifestyle and personal choices of the
    individual. 23 ‘

    20 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part l of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.), 1982, c. 11….
    22 M. Jackson & M. MacCrimmon, Research Confidentiality and Academic Privilege: A Legal Opinion (1999). Commissioned by Simon Fraser University (SFU) Research Ethics Policy Revision Task Force, online: SFU President’s Homepage
    http://www.sfu.ca/pres/researchconfidentiality.htm at 16ff (date accessed: 14 June 2000) … The quotation by La Forest J. can be found at R. v. Dyment, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 417 at 429-30 [hereinafter Dyment].
    23 R. v. Plant, [1993] 3 S.R.C. 281 at 293

    But it also said,

    …Any blanket assertion that one set of rights can prima facie supersede all others is contrary to Supreme Court jurisprudence that requires the balancing of conflicting Charter rights. [See e.g. R. v. Mills, [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668]

    Source: Ted Palys and John Lowman, “Ethical and Legal Strategies for Protecting Confidential Research Information,” Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Revue canadienne droit et soci

  35. Warren says:

    Thanks for this. Good post.

    There are obviously limitations to privacy protections – security at the airport, border crossings, reasonable searches, etc.

    My objection relates to two linked problems:

    1. The questions are highly personal – race, sexual orientation, income, etc.; and

    2. The notorious fact that (in the digital age particularly), governments of all stripes and at all levels suck at safeguarding citizen’s personal info.

    Taken together, those two things militate against my participation. But others can if they want. It’s their business.

    W

  36. Namesake says:

    Fair enough, and they’re certain consistent with a Liberal point of view, and there _should_ be a proper Supreme Court ruling on the Charter challenge to put this to rest once & for all, for all StatCan’s unique manadatory compliance surveys.

    But as you have pointed out hee & elsewhere, there may well be some legitimate curtailments of liberty by the state, not only in freedom of speech (re: enciting hatred, racism etc.) but also in the right to assemble (not w/o submitting to ID or weapons checks in designated public security areas), and also to privacy in some contexts (income tax returns; and there’s probably a duty to disclose in some contexts, like when selling a house); and maybe even to total personal liberty, in the case not only of imprisonment (where we forfeit our rights for committing crime) but also conscription (where it is deemed nec. for the total public good — the commonwelath of the nation — to temporarily suspend almost all our rights).

    Not that I’m defending all these suspensions of liberty: just submitting that it’s not at all clear that the Charter trumps all, even where there are legitimate concerns about the intrusions, burdens, or risks involved.

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