11.05.2015 12:33 PM

Short-form punditry, from long ago

About the long-form census move that Stephen Harper made, so many years ago – lifted from this web site way back in January 2011:

“A disastrously dumb move: the mishandling of the communications surrounding the ditching of the long form census…Harper’s PMO turned a coma-inducing topic into a burning front-page controversy for weeks.”

Took half a decade, but Navdeep Bains finally cleaned up the Conservatives’ mess.  Well done.


  1. Matt says:

    “We know the history of the past government and they very much focused on ideology,” he said. “We’re focused on sound, evidence-based policies. We want to make sure we’re driving good policies based on good evidence and quality data.”

    Keep hearing this. But the question becomes – Are they going to look at ALL “evidence” from BOTH sides on a particular subject, or just the “evidence” that supports their natural bias/ideological leanings?

    • Matt says:

      And I’m not sure the long form census restoration was a vote getter for the Liberals given the CPC won a majority after scrapping it.

      It’s just a thing. I don’t care one way or th other, but I grant you I’m not in a field that uses the data collected by the census.

      • doconnor says:

        Did you believe those who where in fields that use the data when they said this was only done as an attack against evidence-based policy making?

        • Matt says:

          The original comment about examining all evidence was not about the long form census.

          It was in reference to other thing like, as an example firearms.

          The anti gun establishment like Wendy Cukier and Heidi Rathjen of the Coalition for Gun Control have lots of “evidence” to support their position.

          The pro gun establishment with people like Tony Bernardo from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association and professor Gary Mauser also have lots of “evidence” to support their position. I’ll leave out the National Firearms Association because quite frankly, their leadership are bozos.

          Does Trudeau look at ALL the “evidence” prestented and strike a balance in any new firearm legislation, or only the “evidence” put forward by the anti gun side because the Liberals lean that way ideologically?

    • Ted H says:

      All the “evidence” so far from researchers, business groups and other stakeholders of such wide views that the term ideology is meaningless indicates that the cancelling the long form census was ill thought out and demonstrative of the ONLY ideological approach applied to this issue, that of the Conservative Party of Canada.

  2. Luke says:

    I think it was this census business that really hammered into my brain that the Harper crew were not a bunch worthy of running a country. It was reckless, irresponsible, indefensible, inadvisable, baseless, and wrong. I was very sad when this behaviour was rewarded with a majority in the subsequent election. Better late than never, however. Very glad to see the new government reserving some insanity.

  3. Jack D says:

    Even today, I cannot for the life of me understand as to why the Conservatives kiboshed the long-form census.

    The only reason I could possibly imagine is that it was based out of some strong emotional libertarian-esque aversion towards mandatory government data collection. Even so, its an extremely stupid position to take given how much information is drawn from the census.

    Whatever the reason, its obvious the Conservatives disliked data-driven legislation and had a proclivity towards ideological governing. Which is completely counter-intuitive to an efficient government.

    • Maps Onburt says:

      PLEASE enough with this crap about them abolishing the long form census. They didn’t abolish it. What they abolished was the law that said you had to fill it out (that was never enforced anyway). They still sent out Long Form Census’s and in fact sent out even more than before to account for the fact that some people wouldn’t do their civic duty and fill them out. I got one and took the time to fill it out but that’s because I like doing genealogy and have enjoyed reading the census’s from 100 years ago about how many pigs my great grand father had.

      You know this is just about the politics of hate when you see that the people who argue against C-51 on the basis of invasion of privacy are the SAME ones arguing for the laws forcing people to fill out the Long Form Census. Bunch of flaming hypocrites.

      • Reality.Bites says:

        Does the constant spinning make you dizzy?

      • Jack D says:

        Oh sure, almost like abolishing a law that says you have to pay taxes but still expecting Canadians to file them every year –right?

        First of all, settle down. I can sense your seething anger starting to spill into rage as you type.

        Second, are you really comparing the provisions of C51 to the long-form census? I high school student with a C grade-average would be able to distinguish between the clear privacy violations of portions of C51 and the meta data collection purposes of the census.

        • Maps Onburt says:

          Lots of people fill out the long form census without being forced to under the penalty of a criminal charge. Even Stat’s Canada’s worst case projections were that the fill out rate would go from 94% to 50%. According to Stat’s Canada, the participation rates actually improved over 2006. “As of August 24, 2011, Canada’s overall collection response rate was 98.1%, up over a full percentage point from 96.5% in the 2006 Census. Ontario and Prince Edward Island each hold the highest response rate at 98.3%, while Nunavut holds the lowest response rate at 92.7%.”

          People understand the value of a Census and take the time to fill it out. What didn’t make sense was making criminals of the 6% that didn’t fill it out by giving them up to 3 months in Jail and a $500 fine (even if they never enforced it). What is the point of having a law on the books that you never enforce. How mandatory is it anyway? What does it say about our ability to then ignore other laws we don’t like?

          Re C-51… many of the arguments against that have been big brother snooping arguments. Hence the argument. Can the insults.

      • Brion Pollon says:

        Speaking as the family genealogist I too filled out the long form census after having parsed through many of them going back to the early 1800’s. I was really disgusted with the blatant intrusiveness of the thing and when I got to the end where they wanted to start nosing into our finances I wrote across the page “Phone Canada Revenue”.

    • Kev says:

      There’s a small but loopy strain from the Reform side of the party that’s been whinging about the horrors of the census since at least the early 1990s.

      That would also appear to be Harper’s strain of the party.

      • Maps Onburt says:

        This isn’t about loopy people. I don’t know why you progressives feel the need to denigrate people with different opinions than yours. There are those people in the CONSERVATIVE party who feel very strongly that the government does not have the right to pry into all aspects of their personal life for no other reason than to provide the information to other parties for social engineering/marketing/etc. If you have ever filled one out, they are very intrusive. We were making criminals out of people that refused even if we never actually charged anyone. What’s the purpose of a law that is never (or only selectively) enforced? Canadian’s never had a rational discussion on this. The long form went out (in greater numbers) and they still got high response rates. A few purists argued that since it wasn’t mandatory you didn’t collect perfect information but then we accept that every day when we rely on polls to tell us who’s out in front. This was always a blatantly partisan issue (not helped by my Conservatives frankly who didn’t handle it as it should have been handled). Now we are putting a law back on the books that the government is telling us it’s OK to ignore (“Nobody has ever been charged”). It’s plain foolishness and symbolism. Nothing more.

  4. P Brenn says:

    Hi ..many Canadians myself included wonder about all the data collection done by stats can – my kid is taking a masters in bioscience (shes much smarter than me) and according to her the data gaps in move to short form census impacts many research studies undertaken – hell she’s under 25 and that group owns the world now so who am I to argue …just please dont send me the long form one …send it to her…

  5. JonT says:

    If they send me the long form census, I will choose jail than obedient compliance to the intrusive state ….. well, maybe….

  6. lungta says:

    my joke of the day
    is that for the rural based conservatives
    who check the status of their herds, and flocks everyday
    couldn’t see the value of checking on canadians every five years
    just to see
    it embodies what i feel was and still is a total disregard for canadians

  7. A. Voter says:

    In the early 1980’s, there was a Toronto Sun columnist-Lara Sabia I think her name was-who made a big show out of refusing to fill out the census. She claimed it was demeaning to women for some reason. She had a rally in front of Toronto city hall and dared the authorities to come and get her.
    It would bankrupt the government to prosecute and jail a large number of people who refused to fill out the census.
    Whatever steps the Liberals take on the census, it is all meaningless if everyone simply tosses it in the trash. The question is, what percentage of the population have to fill the census out for it to be reliable.

    • Maps Onburt says:

      “The question is, what percentage of the population have to fill out the census for it to be reliable”. BINGO.

      Polling companies tell us they can get to +/- 2% 19 times out of twenty with a sample size of 2000 people in Canada. The WORST case projection of Stat’s Canada going into 2011 a was 50% response rate. We had over 90% in every jurisdiction. They actually got a bigger return than 2006.

      This was all about politics and saving the bureaucracy. Nothing more.

    • ottlib says:

      The response rate for the 2006 Census long form was 98% of the questionnaires sent to Canadian households.

      In 2011, the response rate for the voluntary National Household Survey, the replacement for the long form Census was 68%. The response rate for the mandatory short form Census in 2011 was 98%.

      This year StatsCan’s default mode of collection is a web application for both the short and long form, only using paper for special cases. The web application was offered as a mode of collection in 2011 and it was so successful that they decided to go all in on it.

      I used that method in 2011 and it was very easy to use.

  8. Richard Besserer says:

    Only now is Tony Clement admitting (to the CBC as he arrived for the interim Tory leader election meeting) that he, ah, thinks there might have been more consultation on the topic of the long-form census.

    In other words, he knew very well it was a bad idea, but President Steve wanted red meat for the base ahead of the 2011 election, and Clement’s options were to play along or cut his career in federal politics short. Just possibly he had fewer options in private life than Munir Sheikh.


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