Statisticians and the bedrooms of the nation - Macleans.ca
 

Statisticians and the bedrooms of the nation

Tony Clement and the resignation of Munir Sheikh, the chief statistician of Canada


 

Of all the strange elements in the government’s case for eliminating the long-form census, the most absurd has to be the Conservatives’ fixation on the census question about how many bedrooms are in a home.

In his statement this evening acknowledging the resignation of Munir Sheikh, the chief statistician of Canada, Industry Minister Tony Clement once again singled out the supposed invasiveness of this particular query.

“We believe it is not appropriate to compel citizens to divulge how many bedrooms they have in their houses,” Clement says, “or what time they leave for work in the morning.”

Now, we all know why inquiring about the hour Canadians begin their commute is offensive—that was the first bit of information the Stasi always collected on their quarry. But why is the matter of bedrooms so sensitive? Does it have something to do with the state meddling in, you know, the boudoir?

If that’s it, perhaps overheated Tory imaginations would be cooled by reading what Statistics Canada itself says about this matter in its handy guide to the questions on the 2006 census and why they were asked:

“Information on the number of rooms and bedrooms in homes and on housing costs is combined with data on the number of persons in households to assess the economic situation of families in different regions. Provincial and municipal governments use this information to measure levels of crowding within households and to develop appropriate housing programs.  Information on the age of dwellings and their need for repairs is used by municipalities to develop neighborhood improvement programs.”

I’m going to guess that it would be a challenge to read that dry, sensible explanation and maintain a proper libertarian sense of alarm over state intrusion in private matters. I mean, who writes this stuff—bland and harmless statisticians just trying to do their jobs?


 

Statisticians and the bedrooms of the nation

  1. Yup, SoCons who worry about what everyone else in the country does in a bedroom don't want to even be asked to count theirs!

    • Hahaha Emily, you must be loving this!

      • I think the one thing most Canadians have in common right now is that nobody's loving this.

        • Agreed!

      • No, I am appalled that in the 21st century, with all it's promise, we are still mentally and emotionally in the Dark Ages.

        There is nothing to love about this kind of wilful ignorance.

        • Yet you persist.

  2. Dear Tony,

    Time you leave for work in the morning? Still not on any census issued since Confederation.

    Signed,
    – People who have actually looked at a long form.

    • I'm just glad the masses have stopped complaining about not wanting to divulge the number of toilets and T.V.'s they have (questions also not asked on the long form of the census).

      • I just wish the minister responsible for the department would show some of that much vaunted ministerial responsibility and do a bit of research on what he's talking about before commenting to the press.

        I suppose I'm asking too much.

        I'll settle for having his staffers do some research before they write up his talking points. I understand that that's the sort of thing that they're supposedly there for.

        • Scandinavia and others are scrapping the census altogether or diminishing it to a greater extent than we in Canada are suggesting.. The changes proposed are very minor compared to your socialist Europe.

          • What they have instead is a mandatory permanent census – all are required by law to register with the authorities whenever they move; local authorities, moving companies, and various public and private service provider are required to share with the government various personal information that they have about their clients. There is a full registry of all dwellings, which includes the number of bedrooms, and who lives there. If this is proposed, Liberals and Conservatives will be united in opposing it.

          • oh – so that would make it appropriate?

  3. I have to agree, the whole thing is a little odd.

    I can understand some measure of concern over the religion questions, but number of bedrooms in a house is pretty basic stuff and is probably already a matter of public record anyway in terms of assessment for property taxes.

    And from what I saw in the most recent long-form posted by Wherry, the religion questions had been taken out anyway.

    I think a principled case can probably be made against the census (or at least an involuntary census) – some commenters here have made at least part of that case – but the government seems to be waffling between weird and unconvincing arguments about privacy, followed by equally weird and unconvincing arguments about offsetting the effect on the census data by other means.

    I just don't think this was really on anyone's radar a month ago. It came out of left field, and I'm not entirely sure why.

    • "I just don't think this was really on anyone's radar a month ago. It came out of left field, and I'm not entirely sure why."

      You and me both. Actually, I don't think anybody can figure out for the life of them why…

      • I think this issue has been simmering in the recesses of Harper's mind for some time. Since he is powerfully influenced by right-wing US blogs, then the routine resurfacing of this libertarian issue this past U.S. census year by the American Tea Party reminded the leader of the Canadian Tea Party that it was time to get on with this. Clement was/is a minor player in this drama. Wrecking the census has been on Harper's radar since back when his ideological buddy Maxime Bernier was at Industry.

    • The most recent long form was from the quinquennial census, defined by StatsCan as a census occurring in a year ending in 6, which doesn't ask the religion question.

      The decennial census — issued every 10 years since 1871 — asks about religion. 2011 being 10 years since the last one, religion was scheduled to be asked again.

    • "Never credit conspiracy (or for that matter cruelty) what simple incompetence can adequately describe." – Napoleon.

    • I'm dying to get a long-form asking me my religion. Us "Nones" are underrepresented in the current numbers.

      If the government is losing people like you on this issue, it shows that they are communicating it very badly.

    • If we're focussed on the census kerfuffle, we're not paying attention to other stuff they might not want us to pay attention to….

      • Jets!

    • I think the bedroom question was used as an example – and at this point I really can see how any of this information is used in government programs. And that goes to the heart of the why behind the long form census – people claim that it is used to develop government programs, but please tell me which government programs? I realize public employees what to portray themselves are these rational thoughtful individuals who are just toiling to produce needed programs, but the reality is that vocal advocacy groups drive the agenda and public employees react. Anti-poverty groups for years have used the low income data to define how terrible social programs are and StatsCanada has repeatedly said that those numbers are being wrongly used, but journalists cite them all the time.

      My bigger beef with the long-form census is that it collects information that is already collected and publicly available – most municipalities post property tax data on their websites and you can search any of your neighbours information by typing in their address – how big the house is, how many bedrooms, etc. etc. Why is Stats Canada going out to collect more of this? Stats Canada is stuck in the 1950s when this information was not generally available and they cling to it as some prized cow that will reveal all.

      I tried to use Stats Canada data for a project proposal focussing on older women – I just wanted the numbers of senior women in a specific community – it was a complete waste of time going to Stats Canada – their data was 5 years old and configured in a way that was useless for me. I finally got the information, off the internet, from the health ministry, who publishes, every year data on how many people hold valid provincial health cards, by location, (RM, city), age and gender. In five minutes I had exactly what I needed.

      • StatsCan does have the more detailed information you want, but not in the free section of the web site. You have to pay to get it. Your taxes paid for it but you have to pay again. In the US, all information collected using taxpayer money is available for free.

    • Except that a municipal census is confidential, much like your tax information and it would take a subpeona to extract that kind of private stuff. I am okay with the voluntary survey because statisticians can 'normalize' the data if they have the demographic data. The long form is 'mandatory' but it is sent out randomly so there is no difference is a voluntary survey that is randomly answered and returned. The demographic information will allow the statisticians to duplicate the sampling that comes from the mandatory form. It would be great if the objectors understood statistical analysis before making disparaging remarks about social conservatives who find the stick offensive versus the carrot. To be hounded by a Stats Can employee who enventually informs you that prosecution is waiting for those in non-compliance for not wanting to return a census form is not my idea of a libertarian society. There are plenty of folks who would willingly participate in surveys so leave those who refuse alone. There is more than one way to skin a cat is never truer in this situation. Munir Sheikh is used to running roughshod over the average citizen and finally someone stood up to him so he makes a scene by resigning. Boo Hoo!

  4. The short form asks you to provide the name, age, marital status, language of every person in your household (and whether any of them sell agricultural products).

    But it is telling them the number of bedrooms in your house that is so coercive and offensive????

    • And I believe not returning the short form is still punishable by a fine and/or jail. Is it too much to demand some consistency?

    • It's not just marital status. They want details of what happens in those bedrooms. One change to the mandatory short form is that you will have to declare not only whether you are in a common law relationship, but specify whether it is same-sex or opposite-sex. Same with spouses- same-sex is a different answer from opposite-sex.

      • So? The year is 2010. People, including gays live in common law relationships. Some of them are even – gasp – married. The whole idea of the census is to get an accurate portrait of the population.

        • I think you missed the point. The short-form is still mandatory, and surely that information is more intrusvie than how many bedrooms you have?

      • And your source for this?

        Not that anyone will see it or care, but where are you getting all these questions from?

          • 'The Order prescribes the questions to be asked in the 2011 Census of Agriculture'

            Which is still mandatory.

      • So what – all are legal.

  5. Besides the location of their workplace, the only commuting-related question the Census asks is how people get to work, i.e. by car, bus, bike, walk, etc… that particular question is actually one of the most fundamental pieces of information for transportation planning in Canada. As someone who uses that particular set of data all the time, from a city-wide to a neighbourhood level, it's astounding that they want to make these changes.

    • And that it's seen as some sort of big brother snooping is beyond the pale. Even the religion question – this isn't Iran – we have freedom of religion. Why would counting the numbers of the different religions be seen as oppressive?

      • I don't understand that one myself. What is there to hide about religion?

        Atheists have been in the closet for years, so I could understand them maybe being uncomfortable answering…but religious types?

        …….the hell?

        • Mind you, just to be safe I plan on putting down Evangelical Christian this time around. May ward off a visitation from CRA.

    • And the time you leave for work. When the 401 was so terribly congested there was some talk of staggering hours.

      C'mon, how intrusive is it to ask what time you leave for work?

    • The number and age of household members is also critical for future planning, as is the number of bedrooms because that relates to the current capacity the roads/public transit might have to serve (i.e. people move).

  6. From one of my blogging professor friends at the U of G on this bedrooms fixation the Cons have:

    Could a journalist or two please start pointing out the absurdity of the Conservatives' "bedrooms and bathrooms" talking point in their articles about the census fiasco?

    To wit: at least one level of government ALREADY KNOWS how many bedrooms and bathrooms are in your home. They know, because the plans for having your dwelling built and/or renovated were submitted to a government authority for approval and/or inspection at some point in the past.

    • And if your neighbours house is up for sale you can look up the listing and see pictures of his bedrooms. The horror.

    • Frankly, their fixation strikes me as silly little boys playing at being lurid 'peeping Toms'. I think they all suffer from sexual hang-ups, typical of anally and socially retarded cretins. I bet they 'flick' towels at one another in the changing room too. Beneath contempt.

    • Maybe the professor can explain why it is absurd for cons and others, because this is not an ideological issue, to balk at spending an hour to fill out a form to provide government with info it already has. It is nice that prof has all the time in the world to fill out forms from government but some have more important things to do with their lives.

      Also, can the professor please explain why census is necessary at all when the info is already known to different levels of government but they can't be bothered to collate and share it with one another. Once again, taxpayers are forced to waste time on frivolous forms because bureaucracy is lazy and inefficient.

      • Because it is cheaper to collect it via a census than to go to all the other levels of governments who cumulate this information – and they do so without the guarantee of privacy that StatsCan provides us when we complete a census.

        But spending considerably larger sums of money is not a problem for Conservatives. Obviously.

        • "Because it is cheaper to collect it via a census than to go to all the other levels of governments who cumulate this information …. "

          Cheaper? According to Prof Gordon, StatsCan budget is $500 million a year and I am not sure if that increases when they do long form census every five years. You think it is cheaper to spend $500 million annually instead of different levels of government sharing information with one another? I would like to see math on how you figure that out.

          " In 2009, some 20% of its $500m budget came from selling access to its data."

          • (Part I)
            As far as the budget goes, the voluntary form is supposed to cost an additional $30 million ($5 million for the larger sample and $25 million to convince the chosen to do them), all for information that the statsticians tell us will be of lesser value. As for the costs of sharing data, that's a good question. I imagine that a lot of StatsCan's people are employed in analysis – check out their website to see the monthly and quarterly reports they release each day on a variety of economic and social subjects. There are a few dozen of these things in a typical week.

            As for the money made from the sale of data and analysis, that (unfortunately, in my view) was a change made in the deficit-fighting years in the late 90s. Data once free is sold for cost recovery. More is free now than a few years ago.

          • (Part II) I'm in favour of the long-form census (and have written to my MP to that effect), but am curious about the oft-proposed idea of information sharing between departments and provinces. From a privacy standpoint, would it not be better to have some of this data in separate silos? Yes, CRA knows where I work and how much money I made to the penny last year, but they don't know my race or education level. Stats Can may know the latter two, but they don't know the first two. Similarly, both StatsCan and my municipal property assessors know how many bedrooms I have, but only the former has, say, a household income range and the latter the assessed value of my property and whether I have a pool. I imagine that data can be released in chunks and as ranges, but it does have to be matched up to a certain extent to be useful. Would there be potential for abuse there? That isn't a rhetorical question – I'm curious as to what everyone thinks.

          • Why are European Governments being much more drastic in their census cutbacks? Some socialist havens are promoting cutbacks.

          • From the Toronto Sun:

            "Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark all use registry-based systems to track citizens from birth to death."

            "The Scandinavian route may not be a method that would please privacy advocates. Each Norwegian is given a personal identification number that tracks them through the government system. Those personal numbers are also matched up to registration numbers for each dwelling in Norway."

            "In Germany, the government is looking to collect census data in 2011 from just 10% of the population but that too is causing controversy. Under the German plan the data collected would be stored alongside a personal index number that could result in privacy breaches."
            http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/07/22/

            My question was about people's opinions on data-sharing. This idea proposed in Europe (particularly the UK) moves beyond government data-sharing and into private sector databases. This could have further privacy implications, which is interesting given that privacy from government intrusion is the cited reason for cancelling the long form.

          • (Part III) One final point – I imagine that there would have to be all manner of agreements and MOUs necessary for the sharing of data. I wonder if all of the necessary organizations would be up for this…for instance, what if the Saskatchewan assessment corporation (?) refused to share data or insisted on payment? Or the Quebec Health Ministry?

          • That is their right as reflected in their vote for the party in power.

      • By the way, you may be able to find out how many bedrooms are in a specific house at 123 AnyStreet through an MLS liste, if it is up for sale, from the city, if it has this information – but you'd never be able to find out how many bedrooms are in 123 AnyStreet from StatsCan!

      • My point exactly – we are not in the 1950s anymore – this type of data is routinely collected and a whole lot of it is published on the internet.

        Stats Canada mandate needs to change to that of coordinating existing data that all levels of governments collect and ensuring that it is interpreted using appropriate methodology and meets privacy legislation. That would be useful.

    • Yes, one level of government already knows. So if StatsCan needs that information for producing product, why not go to that level of government and get the information there?

      • Consistency (over time, methodology) is a key factor in making sure the collected data is as reliable as possible and that you are comparing apples to apples.

        Almost all of that data is NOT available from any other source.

    • Actually, and don't get me wrong I agree with what your saying, but try to find the details on a house built before the city it's in was founded and your out of luck. We purchased our 110 yr old home 4 years ago and have been searching for info on the house since. All the city can tell us was it was here when Winnipeg became a city and nothing has been filed since, except the land titles certificate and they don't include any drawings.

      • Same with my home in Regina; go to your City Archives; they may very well have building permits, and also check the Henderson Directories — we were able to date our home successfully while the City cannot. And we know who built it, lived her, and what they did.

    • Not everywhere. We do not yet have permits and all the other bureaucratic BS where we live although it is coming. In any event lots of things are on a need to know basis and the government doesn't need to.

      • I like that!

  7. The bedrooms thing is about not changing your talking points no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT!

    Sorry, got hysterical over statistical privacy for a minute there.

    Anyway, the point is never EVER back down on your talking points even if you said the Department provided the option and it's an obvious lie, just keep on saying it over and over and … where were we again?

    • some else's bedroom

      • Wai!t Did I just get to third base by being a politics geek? This changes everything!

  8. Notice the absence of bloated CON-sheep bleating from this topic? They're busy pimping the latest on-line poll and sending Tony-C the requisite of high-fivin' tweets as per CON-centre instructions.
    Whining about left-wing media will recommence in 26 minutes…

    • it's not so much whining about the left-wing media, it's whining about how silly this all is. is "the long form census" reaaaallly that big a deal? no. so why all the histrionics? nothing else to talk about, i suppose.

      imagine what the rest of the world thinks of us, if this is our big issue – "must be a nice place to live", i would guess.

      meanwhile, the gulf is spoiled, war rages, diseases savage much of the world. and we argue about a questionnaire.

      wow.

      • Nice place to live. Aboslutely. The best.

        Part of that is, whether you like it or not, due to information gleaned from 'questionnaires' like the census. The better the info the better we can plan to maintain that nice place to live. Bad info, bad planning.

        Why do you hate our way of life so?

    • I will say it again: Did you know that many countries in Europe including Scandinavia have gone much further in getting rid of superfluous and intrusive government interference in their census and have proposed in some cases of eliminating it altogether. All our praiseworthy government is proposing is to do is make the long form non compulsary. That means voluntary. That may skew the data but it protects your privacy and mine. Bugger the nerds!

  9. It came out of left field…

    The kind of anti-state paranoia embodied by Clement's obduracy is not something that comes out of left field, I'm afraid.

    • I'm all for what you call "anti-state paranoia", having seen the idiocy and tragedy which states are capable of producing, particularly when supported by the dehumanizing statism from which many countries are currently suffering.

      However, if that was the concern then there are issues that rank so far above the census as to make it inconsequential. The Human Rights Tribunals come to mind.

      • Are you quite sure it is the state qua state that produces the tragedies of which you speak? Is it not perhaps the dispositions and overall ethical character of the people who make up the state which determine whether it produces tragedies or triumphs?

        From 1939 to 1945, both Germany and Canada were "statist"—authoritarian, collectivist, and militarised. Were they therefore morally equivalent?

        Statism is underrated, I think. During the Renaissance, where did human culture flourish more vividly? In England and the Italian nation-states under the Elizabethan/Jacobean dictatorship and the authoritarian rule of the Medici and Borgias, or in the democratic, decentralised cantons of Switzerland?

        • Statism is underrated, I think. During the Renaissance, where did human culture flourish more vividly?

          That's a good point, and a thought-provoking observation, but there's not necessarily any causal link between statist governments and the flourishing of human culture during the Renaissance. Wouldn't most European governments of that era be considered "statist"? The democratic, decentralised cantons of Switzerland were an exception.

          In the sixteenth century, the population of the British Isles was five times that of Switzerland, and the population of the Italian nation-states was thirteen times that of Switzerland. Perhaps human culture flourished more vividly in Renaissance Italy and England because they had much larger populations.

          • Actually, they were far less "statist" than now, in the sense that "national" government was very weak and relied almost entirely upon the goodwill of the lords who had quite free reign over their little fiefdoms. Even they usually set up only a few rules: pay me what I choose and you can use some of my land for farming, unless I change my mind.

            They were certainly not "statist" in the way Sir Francis describes "authoritarian, collectivist, and militarised" as they were not militarized, certainly not collectivist and authoritarian only when they wanted something and otherwise left you alone.

          • …they were far less "statist" than now…

            You're confusing mechanics with operating ideologies. Naturally, the Elizabethan state apparatus was primitive and weak. The fact is that the queen reigned, with uncontested power, over an absolutist state which accorded her subjects few civil liberties, if any. The feudalism you describe had been smashed by the time of Elizabeth's reign and was but a memory even by the beginning of her father's era.

          • You're confusing statism and authoritarianism.

            Typically when a conservative starts talking about "statism" they are talking about the ways government is trying to run your life, engineer a different world, create programs designed to "help", etc. Not simply a strong state trying to keep power and take away civil liberties.

            Pre-twentieth century, government was not so interested in controlling your life and telling you what to do, if they felt they didn't need to in order to keep a tight lid on power among the elites.

          • …government was not so interested in controlling your life and telling you what to do…

            Elizabeth I was actually rather eager to tell her subjects what to do, and think. For example, failure to attend Anglican services at least once a month would get you a holiday in one of her prisons. Publishing a pamphlet questioning the validity of her succession could get you drawn and quartered.

            Richelieu's France came about as close to civic micro-management as it was possible to get at the time.

          • Maybe they were richer.

        • "During the Renaissance, where did human culture flourish more vividly?"

          Depends, doesn't it. If you prefer cuckoo clocks to religious art, than 'democratic, decentralised cantons of Switzerland' are looking pretty good.

          And if statism is the cause of all that wonderful renaissance art, than why aren't socialist or communist or authoritarian countries of modern era producing work to rival the renaissance?

          • Ah, but they are. Some of the greatest works of art are derived from the sufferers and victims of those regimes!

            That's why art is so bad in Canada: we need more oppression of the masses, not less!!

          • Be patient – Harper is moving as fast as he can.

          • Classy.

          • Mea culpa – I thought it was obvious that I was joking (like tedbetts was obviously joking), but I should have put a smiley for the humour-impaired.

          • Also classy.

          • "Be patient – Harper is moving as fast as he can."

            In a way, I agree with TJCook's statement because Harper is quickly expanding size of State and Fed Budget which means the oppression of the masses is on the rise. But I am guessing TJCook does not think Big Government oppress anyone, only the occasional Con PM is oppressive while Liberals are all about kittens, rainbows and lollipops.

          • Like I said, it was a joke. But I'm happy to have provided a jumping-off point for one of your nutty rants.

          • "That's why art is so bad in Canada: we need more oppression of the masses, not less!! "

            You are on to something here, tedbetts. The reason why art is so bad in Canada, and much of the Western World, is because most artists can't support themselves and are on welfare. If there was no welfare, and artists actually had to sell something to make a living, art would improve immeasurably.

            I agree that communist countries produced a few authors who wrote wonderful books but I don't think all murder and destruction carried out by commies was worth a few classic books.

          • … why aren't socialist or communist or authoritarian countries of modern era producing work to rival the renaissance?

            Because statism is not a necessary pre-condition of a vital human culture; to assert such a thing would be as absurd as asserting that the absence of a state structure is a necessary pre-condition of a vital human culture. I was pointing out that statism has often been consistent with the production of human excellence, not that statism is absolutely indispensable to it.

        • I can see why you think statism is underrated, with all the great, flourishing human culture that has come of our dalliance with communism.

          Has there ever been a more vibrant culture then the U.S.S.R? I don't think so.

          • It is axiomatic that, whenever arguing against libertarian anti-state absolutism, you will inevitably be faced with a definition of "statism" that confines the meaning of the term to events in post-czarist Russia, the implication being that the essentially statist period of human history stretching from the early kingdoms of Mesopotamia to the conservative European monarchies of the mid-19th century is insignificant.

          • Are you really pining for a monarch?, divine right to rule?
            I guess to determine the best form of government we should disregard the 20th century.

            In those kingdoms/cultures you mentioned, women couldn't vote. Why don't you believe that it is that that caused these great societies/cultures? I think it's because you want to pick and choose your cause and effect.

            That dang U.S constitution/Magna Carta. They are forever holding back human progress, and culture.

          • Are you really pining for a monarch?

            I need not "pine" for a monarch. I have one. Queen Elizabeth is the head of my state. Who's the head of yours?

            That dang U.S constitution/Magna Carta. They are forever holding back human progress…

            Both documents you refer to were produced, of course, under authoritarian rule, and co-existed with it quite comfortably.

            I'm not sure how to calculate their impact on human "progress" (whatever that is). I do know that black folks were still being lynched from trees—in broad daylight and with the assistance of local law enforcement—more than 150 years after your precious U.S. Constitution was promulgated and 130 years after British North America, which lacked your precious U.S. Constitution, had abolished slavery.

          • Well, Master Francis (I will not grant you your perfidious title) you sure can pick out the historical downpoints of our Western idea of equality. Canada is no better in that historical milieu either. Our current ambiance is much different and progressive from those old experiences. There is a balance in what we do and a progression in what the people accept Our electoral system reflects what our people will accept. Lately it is not the Liberal or NDP parties. Tomorrow may be different.

          • …our Western idea of equality.

            I feel sure you know perfectly well that there is no such thing.

      • There is no such thing as 'the state'. There are only people.

        HItler wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes if the people hadn't backed him.

        And while people right now whine and complain about Afghanistan and Iraq….the people happily backed those invasions, were gung-ho for them in fact, but don't like the results of all that flag-waving and drum-banging.

        Don't blame anything on some nebulous 'state'….look in the mirror.

        • You're right. There's no such thing as "Canada", only people. Likewise there is no such thing as a "person", only cells. Likewise there is no such thing as a "cell", only molecules. I realize it's hard to take an anonymous comment board seriously, but it really does help to spend 5 seconds thinking about a statement before one makes it.

          Are you honestly unaware of the many statist regimes, both today and throughout history, which were either not freely supported by the people, or were originally freely supported by the people but then when the people changed their minds, it was too late? There are plenty. Would you also consider states which brainwash the people with ubiquitous propaganda to be freely supported by the people"?

          In every society people are governed by a select few. Those few and the system that perpetuates their rule are "the state". It helps if those few are selected by the public, but whether they are or not it is perfectly possible for the public to grow lazy and develop what Aristotle called a "slave mentality", characterized by a willingness to trade freedom for creature comforts. Another name for this is "the nanny state". Once this happens, people begin to lose the one characteristic that makes them inherently human: their free will. They debase themselves. They devolve into brutes, responding to pleasure and pain with no regard for principle or reason.

          Authority and governance are good things, but where said governance is human (i.e. in every case on earth today) it would be foolish not to be wary of it, lest the rulers begin to tread on the masses either out of greed (see George III) or arrogance (see Louis XIV) or lust for power (see Stalin) or a misguided sense that they can do more good by forcing others to do what is "best" for them (see the Spanish Inquisition).

      • Agreed. I'm called a left-wing Liberal hack by some here, and I have serious reservations about the pseudo-judicial kangaroo courts that are the HRTs.

        I'm sympathetic to a lot of conservative or at least libertarian views. I'm exasperated that they always choose the stupid, pointless and trivial to fight for rather than the things that are conservative and good public policy.

        • A not P/C,
          I'm delighted to have an opportunity to agree with you on an issue. As as fiscal conservative (and non SoCon) I support the Conservative Party. Hey, when you look at the alternatives – Libs and NDP – what choice do I have? However, I am often disappointed at some of the dumb decisions that emerge from this government from time to time. This census decision is not only dumb, Tony Clement's clumsy way of defending the decision has been extraordinarily embarrassing. It's not enough to make me switch to the Liberals, who still need more time in the wilderness, but still leaves a bad feeling in my stomach.

          • You could always try "none of the above"

          • You mean "give up" on decent government for our country.

            I suppose we could.

          • If what we have now passes as 'decent government' for you, I think we'd better.

            Seriously, of course I hate the idea. I hate it so much, in fact, that I've gotten up off the couch and done everything I can do, as an individual, about it. But if none of the political parties represents TwoYen, and there is no independent candidate in his riding that he can get behind, what choice does he have? Voting, again, for the party that disappointed him? You know, we Liberals joined in to boot the previous Liberal government out of power. You are beginning to make me think that was a mistake.

          • I am a former lifetime Liberal who has defected to the current iteration of the Conservative party. I was heavily involved in elections and a close confidant of a Liberal candidate who went on to electoral success in the Trudeau days. The new Conservatives represent a groundswell of antipathy to the Liberal hegemony.

          • That's funny, because I was a former Progressive Conservative and really, really didn't like Trudeau because of how he treated Joe Clark. I have defected to the Liberal party and am working hard to get a former MP back in office.

          • A new party and a merged party rarely gains the leadership so readily as shown in the first campaign by Harper which he lost. It has been extremely difficult in the past to attract quality candidates to run because many of them would simply be sacrificial lambs. This time around the Conservatives have a lot of extremely significant candidates proposed who have been succesful in their own right. If you don't like some of the cabinet now there will be plenty of qualified replacements. It is up to you individuals to choose the PHILOSOPHY that best suits you and buy a membership in your local Elecroral District. Canadians talk a big story but do not even refister in their prefered political party. For me it is todays Conservative Party. if you only read the Toronto Star then my choice is a mistake. If your reading is more extensive then you know that the Harper government can be very productive.

            I am a senior. Stephen harper is the best Prime Minister in my memory bar none.

          • If I ever see corruption in this government like I saw with the Liberals, you have my assurance that I will help "throw the bums out".

            I can live with a government that makes mistakes, I can't abide one that's on the take.

            Of course I'm disappointed in things this government has done. But I seem to be stuck voting for what I see as the lesser evil, as the Liberals have done nothing to attract me.

          • I understand the Liberals (or NDP, Green, Marxist-Lennonist or whatever) have not attracted you. I'm not suggesting you should vote for any of them. I am suggesting that, if you vote for the Conservatives even though they have disappointed you, they will not know they disappointed you. Now, if you wished for something very minor or petty and didn't get it, like changing the words to O Canada as an example, but other than that were pleased with the government's performance, of course you should vote for them. If you voted for the Conservatives last time because you wanted accountability, you wanted transparency, you wanted a reduction in the size of government, you wanted fiscal responsibility resulting in an annual surplus that could be returned in the form of tax cuts, etc., why the heck are you rewarding what you got? Say 'none of the above' so that the FPTP margin of your MP shrinks. You don't have to vote for someone else to reflect your displeasure.

          • "As as fiscal conservative (and non SoCon) I support the Conservative Party."

            Interesting – if you're not worried about the social conservative stuff, then you're evaluating on the basis of fiscal performance.

            Don't the Liberals have a drastically better record than the Conservatives? If you're looking for an alternative to Conservatives, I think you absolutely do have a choice.

            Please note: I'm not a Liberal shill, it just drives me crazy that the one major party who has demonstrated fiscal responsibility in my lifetime seems never to get credit for it.

          • I'm willing to give credit where it's due. Although I probably am less glowing about the Liberals economic wizardry then you are.

            The real question this type of Conservative has to ask is, "Is the current Liberal Party likely to be more sound fiscal managers, then the current govt.?"

            I suppose the jury is out, but from the policies advanced by the LPC (National Child Care, high-speed rail, national power grid, more stimulus spending), many conservatives think "probably not".

            Also the Harper govt. (think of them what you will), have not been implicated in cycling taxpayer money around, until it ends up back in CPC coffers.

            I had hoped Iggy would be more of a bluish Grit, but I've been totally disappointed. Even if I trusted him, I have trouble letting go and trusting the LPC at all.

          • Yup, fair enough. Though at the end of the day, the LPC worked steadily toward, and achieved, and maintained a balanced budget. They're the only party to have accomplished that in my lifetime. The Conservative party immediately instituted an unfunded tax cut, creating a $12-15B structural deficit.

            For me, it's tough to argue with results. On that front, people seem to grade Conservatives on a curve.

            Let's not forget the way the Conservatives spent the stimulus money (have you ever seen an account or analysis of where it was spent, the process through which it was spent, or its effectiveness?), a billion-dollar security boondoggle a few weeks ago, and an untendered agreement to spend ~$16B on a fighter jet that doesn't exist.

            These things dwarf National Child Care, high-speed rail, adscam, etc. And they *actually* happened.

            At this point, plenty of conservatives hold their nose and vote Con. I think it's apparent that the current Conservative party has cast off any principles it may have had, given up on the idea of good governance and will apparently do or say just about anything to achieve the real goal: political power. I don't see how anybody could vote for such a craven bunch of people.

          • I'll try to address your points, and explain why I'll still favour the CPC, over the LPC. The Liberals track record on balanced budgets would be more relevant if it were Chretien, Martin, or Manly leading the party. The current LPC is a tough sell as prudent fiscal managers.

            The GST cut was an election promise. One that was kept. I also see the merits in cutting our most regressive tax, by a couple points. I will be very interested in the Auditor Generals report on the stimulus (which I think was mosly ineffective). I don't think a coalition would have spent/wasted less thou.

            The G-8 costs were outrageous. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It's not really a ballot box issue for me thou. (bad judgement, sure; corrupt, I don't think so). The F-35, that doesn't exist? I'm not a big fan of sole-sourceing, but there is only one viable 5th generation fighter. I think it's a good deal over-all, and what's best for Canada.

            " I don't see how anybody could vote for such a craven bunch of people. "
            Man… If I followed that logic, I wouldn't vote at all.

          • How on earth can you call yourself a "fiscal conservative"? GST cut – that election promise alone was enough to make me vote Liberal, a GST is a productive tax, they should have cut income taxes because that gets offset by higher purchasing power, now they just have less revenues with no effect on consumption. If they listened to the experts, oh I'm sorry, "elites" they would have known that.

            G-8/G-20 not a ballot box issue? For a fiscal conservative you really don't mind 1.2 Billion in direct costs wasted with untold indirect costs incurred at further taxpayer expense just they can dine at the Fairmount instead of Huntsville. This should demonstrate their "fiscal" credentials more than anything else. They spent one thousand two hundred million dollars – for nothing.

            As an Aerospace engineer I can tell you that "5th" generation is marketing spin for "new". That's it. It's the difference between buying that new BMW for $60,000 or getting a two year old BMW for $25,000. As "busy" as our Air Force is I don't really think they need an aircraft used primarily for invasion type combat roles. But it plays to the base of idiots who get hard ons thinking about anything military so there you go.

  10. Indeed, that the government speaks to us as if we are all half-wits is the most insulting aspect of this census fiasco. But it does fit in with Harper's view of Canada as a second-rate country, not for its size and wealth of resources, but for the political choices made by Canadians before He became our leader. We, the people of Canada, are what have made Canada a second-rate country.

    The state in the bedrooms of the nation, Conservative believe, had nothing to do with decriminalization of homosexuality. Mind you, when I recall some of the arguments heard from Conservatives during the debate on the definition of marriage to include same-sex partners, I am not surprised that they understood Trudeau to mean that the state had no right to know the number of bedrooms in your house.

    Ah well, second-rate quality of information coming to you soon via the new National Household survey, at unknown cost. How befitting for a second-rate country.

    • You are confusing Conservatives with the old Reform party. Get up to date buddy.

      • They are the same thing.

  11. No, you're not making this statistics scandal more interesting by keeping on yammering about it. Find something else to talk about.

  12. I'll make it simple for my LIberal friends.

    If I pay my taxes, don't rob or beat anyone, or steal…….then I should be allowed to live my life as I choose. And if I choose NOT to tell some busybody beaurocrat how many bedrooms I have in my house, then that should be my right too. To have some aszhat like Richard Warman (former census jerkwad) threaten me with jail for refusing to answer a question is just plain wrong. I know Liberals don't understand that basic concept, so I'm sure we'll keep hearing about this non-issue for a while longer yet.

    As for the retiring StatsCan dude…..I'm sure his resignation would not have come if he did not already qualify for a fat public pension.

    But dont' worry….I'm sure we'll hear from him again when he runs as a Liberal candidate in the very near future.

    • Don't forget…when you want to build an addition on that home, or do a reno, you'll be submitting all that data, and more, to some "busybody beaurocrat ".

      Who, by the way, will threaten you with jail if you build without a permit and don't remedy the situation when ordered (forced dismantling of the structure/done by the city/added to your taxes/loss of property if you don't pay/and so on)

      Thank god you live in a trailer, eh?

      • Oh, I love it when you're lessly civil…

      • Mostly Civil wrote:
        "Don't forget…when you want to build an addition on that home, or do a reno, you'll be submitting all that data, and more, to some "busybody beaurocrat ". "

        Yes I will, and I will do so willingly. As that is MY CHOICE. Secondly, I will be submitting that data for several reasons;
        Safety – city inspectors
        Future investments – Improving ones home adds value.

        • Mostly Civil continues:
          "Who, by the way, will threaten you with jail if you build without a permit and don't remedy the situation "

          Building permits and inspections are also ways for municipalities to earn revenue while at the same time keeping homeowners safe, and tradesmen honest.
          Mostly Civil……once you move out of your mom's basement, you may come to realize this.

          As for living in a trailer…..hmmm……sounds like typical Liberal Condescension. What do you have against people who live in Trailers Mostly Civil?

          For the record….I live in and own a rather large house. A restored Victorian in fact. I also own two other properties. All paid for. And guess what…..I never screwed anyone over to get them, nor commit any crimes to fund their purchase. That's what the Conservative work ethic will do for you.

          I added the last part simply because I know it will pisz you off.

          • Hey, I'm glad you've done well for yourself.. I made an incorrect assumption that you had no experience getting building permits because you'd done no building. My bad, I apologize. Not sure why you think your good financial fortune would annoy me. Were you making an assumption about my political stance, then applying a wide generalization to that group to garner what my thoughts on the accumulation might be? That's poor information gathering, friend. lazy debate.
            To the facts…you mentioned your willingness to submit info for a building permit and said "Yes I will, and I will do so willingly. As that is MY CHOICE"
            …and you're quite incorrect. A building permit is not optional. If you build without a permit, the city can, and does, make you take down the build, or fix it for you, at your expense. It's not your choice at all.

          • …oh, by the way…

            You also mentioned the "Conservative" work ethic. You'll find, with a little research, that the term "work ethic" does not, in fact, relate specifically to any one party ideology. You may wish to google this title:
            "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism".

            I'd give you the link, but where's the reward for dilligence in doing that?

          • After reading a number of your comments, I'd have to say you should change your name to "MostlyNotCivil" or "RarelyCivil" or "NotCivilToOthersWhoAreCivil" or "UsuallyNotCivilForNoParticularReason"

          • I don't know. I think when I reply with a modicum of politeness to a post that starts out with "I'll make it simple for my LIberal friends", I'm exercising some amount of civility.

            Still, glad to know you're reading my comments. That makes it all worthwhile.

            Thanks,

          • Mostly Civil….I will give you a list of the Work Ethic types I have seen.

            Liberal work ethic…." I get paid with other people's money…..for telling them how to live"
            NDP work ethic……I shouldn't really have to work, but I am entitled to your wealth because obviously you have earned it from the backs of the poor.

            Conservative Work Ethic…….If I work my butt off, forego instant gratification, pay my taxes and invest properly, I should be on my way to being pretty well off. Able to support my own kids….pay my own bills, and not have to rely on handouts for my survival. While I'm doing all of that……I don't think it's too much to ask the Government to mind their own dammn business about my personal life.

            If you leave out the Military, the RCMP, and other police forces and take the remainder of the public service….you can see the majority of folks paid by the taxpayers are oposed to the Conservative Government. Why you may ask? Simple……

            Conservatives expect people to work for what they get. Liberals and NDP hate that philosophy.

          • "Conservatives expect people to work for what they get. Liberals and NDP hate that philosophy"

            Any points you might attempt to make are entirely nullified when you rely upon shopworn generalizations like that. You'll get a response, but it's an ineffective way to change someone's view.

            Try a day of posting without using labels. You might be surprised at how much better your posts will be received, and how many actual debates take place.

            (hey SCF…just checking. Would you count that as civil? I'm not trying to be smart, I'm quite curious as to what in my style you take as uncivil.)

          • That is why the Liberals are going down the tubes. If the Liberals and the NDP merge then the Blue Liberals will move to the only party that best represents their party. That is the current iteration of the Conservative party. Mark my words, in Ontario the Blue Liberals are in the majority. The old time "Grits" are all Blue Liberals and they always were merely an alliance for power. The power has shifted and shall remain shifted even after whomever is elected next.

            Unfortunately the old time Liberals of Montreal have moved to Toronto and have polluted that city.

          • Mostly Civil noted:
            "…and you're quite incorrect. A building permit is not optional. If you build without a permit, the city can, and does, make you take down the build, or fix it for you, at your expense. It's not your choice at all."

            Actually, there is plenty of choice. One does not have to do a reno on their house, nor do they need to build an addition. However, if one were to choose to do so, one would still need to follow the rules. The long-form census offers no such choice. In any event, when I have received the long form census, I have had a lot of fun messing with StatsCan.

            May the force be with you!! (JamesHalifax, 1st Level Jedi Knight of the Church of the Mighty Yoda)

          • Listen we've been over this.
            If you don't know what you're talking about please don't talk.

    • So I assume you will be campaigning against the Tories in the next election for their evil plan to threaten you with jail for refusing to answer the questions on the short form, or for their evil plan to threaten you with jail for refusing to answer the questions on the labour force survey.

    • It's a basic concept indeed. Your municipality or real estate board has your name, address and the number of bedrooms in your home. If I want to know how many bedrooms are at your address, I can. If I want to access that information from StatsCan, I cannot.

    • Munir Sheikh is one of the most highly respected public servants in Ottawa and is perhaps the most non-partisan bureaucrat I have ever known. One thing is certain. He did not take this action for partisan reasons.

      • It's a partisan reason if you take an action because of a political position.

        So, he took the action for the integrity of the statistics profession? You're not a statistician anymore if your data is not mandatory? No sense in doing statistics if there's selection bias?

      • Two Yen….thanks for the two-cents with this offering:
        "Munir Sheikh is one of the most highly respected public servants in Ottawa"

        Yeah, I'm sure every Canadian who's heard of his retirement is crushed.

        Of course, none actually know the guy….but hey, you gave it a shot. The only folks who respected this guy, are the 6 people who actually know him, or what he does. Outside of his own office….he's a non-entity.

        Sort of like Michael Ignatieff

    • But isn't the census a responsibility expected of citizens much like paying taxes and participating in jury duty are?

    • Spewing this kind of crap all over the place is what gets you out of jury duty, too, huh?

      Thanks for your commitment to our country.

  13. Don't you think it's weird that they dropped the u from neighbourhood?

    Potentially Tony Clement thinks the government has no business developing housing program and neighbourhood improvement programs

    • Obviously neighbourhoods don't need programmes, as people who can spell words properly can figure things out for themselves. It's those poor buggers who can't change their language settings in MS Word who really need the help…

    • What? Where did they do that?

  14. Could someone tell me why statisticians think voluntarily gathered information will be less accurate? This is a genuine question, because voluntary polls are done all the time (Excuse me sir, I'm calling from StatsCan and was wondering if you could answer a few questions) and are considered accurate. Would those phone calls (I don't know if others get them but I've answered them at my parents and in-laws, they are generally related to their farms) be more accurate if they were a legal obligation?
    I don't really feel very informed on this whole issue but I feel that folks who willingly answer are more apt toward honesty than those pressed into it with threat of prosecution.

    • Those voluntary surveys you are referring to use the long-form census information to weight the data to ensure representativeness… (i.e. they compare their data based on everything from gender, age, education level, income level, # of children in the household, etc with what the census says and correct their data to match). Without the long-form we will have an inaccurate picture of what the country looks like demographically… meaning that the surveys you speak of will weight based on who knows what…

      The purpose of legal obligation is to ensure all of those sent the survey (20% of the population at random) answer the survey. If all of those individuals (give or take a Jedi knight) answer the entire survey it should represent an accurate picture of the country (or the most accurate one possible, without surveying say everyone). The key here is the random sampling and the fact that all those individuals actually respond… if it becomes voluntary then the random sampling means nothing because we won't know who will respond or not… which would under represent people who were too busy, didn't want to answer, etc.

    • One thing is certain. Comparing vountary answers to mandatory ones will not lead to useful comparisons.
      (apples and oranges)

    • Jet: The reason why voluntary surveys are reasonably accurate is that the data from them are adjusted to better reflect the actual population as we know it from the (mandatory) census. For example, young adults are often under-represented in voluntary surveys (they are often not at home when StatsCan calls). Let's say, for discussion, that they have a higher rate of unemployment than older adults. A voluntary unemployment survey would therefore underestimate total unemployment just due to the missing young adults. However, the responses of young adults who did participate in the survey are given more weight so they represent the correct proportion of the population — AS WE KNOW IT FROM THE CENSUS. The result is an accurate estimate from a voluntary survey — because (mandatory) census data are available as the benchmark for accuracy. The respnse to voluntary surveys has dropped from 90% or those contacted to 50% or less, so the problem of inaccuracies due to non-response is getting really serious. Hope this answers your question.

      • yeah thanks, the next thing i want to hear is specific examples of where people use the census info, i know there's plenty of upset groups but what specifically do they need the info for

        • Urban planners and electric utilities need to know the current state of housing stock and of population. If your economic predictions show you will need homes for 50,000 new families of 3 and 3 children in 10 years, you need a model to figure out whether 50,000 homes with enough bedrooms are going to be vacated, whether the repairs will be affordable compared to new houses, etc, before figuring out whether to zone more subdivisions, build new roads, and build new power stations, which also depends on the number of square feet of space and the state of repair. I run large predictive models for cities that require huge amounts of detailed accurate census data otherwise the results are random. Economists need them to predict jobs, spending, and investment.

  15. This issue is directly tied to personal social programming. People who do not plan to access individual social spending (and who haven't in the past) question this because they do not use the product.

    People who have used social programs and plan to continue to use them, know that they must provide personal info to an overseeing body who will then use that info to decide what government assistance they qualify for and how much.

    This discussion has to end with the age-old More Government or Less Government. The more Government aid we want, the more information we will need to provide so that aid can be planned for and provided. You cannot have both a social state and privacy.

    • But you are just wrong. Unless you consider roads, hospitals, fire halls, buses, schools, shopping malls, hairdressers, water treatment plants, churches, sewer maintenance, Tim Hortons, municipal tax assessments, and so many more, to be 'personal social programming'.

      • The point is that roads, hospitals, fire halls, buses, schools, shopping malls, hairdressers, water treatment plants, churches, sewer maintenance, Tim Hortons, municipal tax assessments are general benefits. No other information is needed except the basics – age, density, etc. Things like sewer maintenance don't need info other than that.

        I usually consider things like Tim Hortons, malls and hairdressers to be private institutions – not public services (nice as they are, we don't deserve them due to the taxes we pay)

        • We get them despite the taxes we pay. We might get many more services if we paid less taxes. Did you know that New York State in the good old Hew Hess Of Hay is concerned that their elections are now skewed toward government employees and those that are paid indirectly by the state. Those people are now 52% of the population there. They will always get a government that will support public sector wages. Non government unions will also vote that way. Guess who is sucking the hind tit there.

    • Sorry Joy but i hit the thumb down when i meant to hit the thumpbs up!!

      I think the bad press you are getting about your comment is that most people don't understand what a social program is. The conservative lot that the average Canadian has become, would rather pay less taxes than to have good quality services, or social programs available to them.

      They mistake more government to be more taxes as opposed to better positioned social programs…

      • We get them despite the taxes we pay. We might get many more services if we paid less taxes. Did you know that New York State in the good old Hew Hess Of Hay is concerned that their elections are now skewed toward government employees and those that are paid indirectly by the state. Those people are now 52% of the population there. They will always get a government that will support public sector wages. Non government unions will also vote that way. Guess who is sucking the hind tit there. Is that productive? I don't think so. You want more of the same thus I condemn you.

  16. From the Globe and Mail
    "Statscan employees say privately the agency has already undergone a significant shift in emphasis under the Harper government – away from social issues and towards more economic subjects. It's also scaled back nuanced analysis – something that made it unique in the world, sources there say. The tone of reports is tilting away from detailed storytelling about Canadian life as workers are ordered to stick to reporting the facts."

    So, nuanced analysis and storytelling is good, facts bad. Social issues good, economic data bad.

    Sounds like a few more "professional, neutral " civil servants need to resign or be fired.

  17. Why is this a left right issue. Most of my colleagues and myself are not lefties but as a business persons we are concerned about not having access to reliable data to make business decisions. Yes we do some of our own research but the long form data is vital to business and we are not necessarily Liberals and NDP. Most business people I know are right of centre. So please stop calling us who are arguing for the mandatory long term lefties. We are not.

    • As a side point: It should be mentioned that the research you would do on your own most likely relies on the long-form census information to ensure it accurately reflects the broader Canadian public (demographically anyways). Without it, we won't have an accurate picture of the country with which most market research is based off of.

    • Yes, in the municipal world this data is crucial. This is not a partisan issue, I've voted Conservative in every federal election so far. The talking points and anti-intellectualism I'm hearing on this issue are embarrassing.

    • People that feel that the state has the right to demand personal data from the individual without recourse, for free, are lefties. It is a collectivist position.

      • This Conservative government is still requiring people, under the threat of jail/ fine, to answer:
        – the short-from census
        – the agricultural census

        So please drop the left vs. right debate… this is about accurate information vs. ignorance

        • Regardless of what you say, it is a leftist position. Just the fact that the Conservatives take the leftist position on those other censuses does not change the nature of the argument. In fact, you'd probably find some conservatives who would prefer to do away with those other census forms as well. You'd probably find some in favour of the mandatory long form.

          jimmintz might in fact be a rightie in almost every way except this one. Most people do not think of things in terms of right vs left. Most people take on a hodge-podge of positions, and in fact sometimes people take on contradictary positions. Lots of people take on positions only because of their own personal situation, and would take the opposite tack if their own personal lives were different.

          However, one of the core themes in left vs right is collectivism vs individualism. The argument for a mandatory census is collectivist: that society as whole is better if individuals are deprived of their own freedom to choose what information is disclosed.

          • If that's your criteria, almost anything the government does is leftist… the Conservative government spending money on a road to benefit x community becomes- The government, under threat of fines of imprisonment, coerced me into paying taxation which was transferred to private corporations to build a roadway I neither wanted nor will use.

            People from the far right will see everyone else's position as 'leftist,' even fellow conservatives. Most so-called individualists ignore their dependence on government in their daily lives. And of course it's not about individualism vs collectivism…. there is a scale/shades of grey.

          • No, the concept of taxation is not leftist, unless you are arguing from the extreme right. That is because only anarchists would advocate the absence of government. Most people on the right believe in the law, the courts, foreign affairs, the military, and so on. All this requires taxation. Only the far right would advocate the complete absence of government.

            On the right though, people do argue for less taxation. They may argue against taxation for some purposes such as collectivist programs. Also, I'd say many on the right argue against progressive taxation and in favour of a flat tax.

            Of course there are shades of grey.

            Suppose the left is black and the right is white. When you argue for something to be more grey, you are arguing a leftist position. When you argue for something to be less grey, you are arguing a rightist position.

            People who argue to do away with the mandatory aspect of the long form census for reasons of personal liberty, are arguing the position from the right. People who advocate for the long form census being mandatory for collectivist reasons, they are arguing from the left.

    • The reason they are calling you "lefty" is because you are taking a position that is contrary to Harper.

      You are either with him or against him.

  18. I love this whole file! – frustrated left wing nuts squirming and spinning so fast and far you get a kink in the neck trying to follow them – meanwhile the media spin is so over the top that the hypocrisy drips off the pundits pen. Way to go Stevie Boy! a definite classic and in the meantime has anyone heard of what Iggy is up to? maybe has taken my advice and hiding in plain sight again this summer as it is the only way he can keep his nose and numbers above water – the latest EKOS and the poll about this file say it all!

    • Ignatieff is not on this tour to gain national attention, though no doubt he likes it when he gets it.

      He is on the tour to reach out to the various regions, and it appears he is getting local media attention. That is valuable exposure.

      • It's a listening tour. He's on the tour to listen. And to understand. To feel and to reach out.

    • I wondered where you'd gotten to. Thanks for showing up.

  19. Pete Tong wrote:
    "Potentially Tony Clement thinks the government has no business developing housing program and neighbourhood improvement programs "

    I feel the same way Pete. I don't think the Government should be in the business of developing housing programs. That's what developers are for. They buy land….build on it, and then sell what they have built.
    Whenever Government gets involved we end up with situations like the housing projects in Toronto. True shi_tholes that suck the life out of any who live there, and end up costing far more than houses built by the private sector.

    As for neighborhood improvement programs…that's what neighbors are for.
    If you want to live in a nice neibhourhood, then be a nice neighbour.
    Cut your grass……clean up your garbage, don't be too loud, don't let your pets crap on other folks' property..etc..etc..

    It's not hard to do if you try.

    • I'm sure glad I'm not your neighbour, no matter how nice your lawn is. You sure do focus on the important things.

      In all Canadian cities for the past few decades it has been developers that have been sucking the life out of any who live there. Perhaps you didn't notice that the latest recession was caused primarily by housing developers and bankers working in tandem to bilk money out of ordinary taxpayers, until their greed finally burst the bubble.

      No JamesHalifax, we definitely DO need municipal involvement in housing development. Try an arguement that makes some sense.

      • Hey Sunshine, the latest recession had nothing to do with our governance but with international malfeasance by other foreign government administrations. We are doing just fine despite you left coast lotus eaters.

  20. From JamesHalifax: "If I pay my taxes, don't rob or beat anyone, or steal…….then I should be allowed to live my life as I choose. And if I choose NOT to tell some busybody beaurocrat how many bedrooms I have in my house, then that should be my right too."

    Yes! And if I choose not to tell "some busybody beaurocrat (sic)" (i.e. City Hall )how many toilets will be in my new house (or if I will have a sceptic system, or if I will simply dump by waste into the steet…) then that should be my right too! Where do this wackjobs learn their political philosophy from… Sesame Street?

    • You win. You get the Stockwell Day Award for decontextualizing quotations…

  21. So far all of the supposedly very personal and private issues that Tony Clement tells us he wants to prevent Statistics Canada from asking us, are things a reasonably observant pedestrian could likely determine just by taking a walk around the block.

    It is painfully obvious that none of these questions would be considered unacceptable by any citizen who had the least desire to contribute to the common good. People like this value themselves above everyone else and above the interests of their country.

  22. – 87 Bedrooms

    – 1 Bathroom

    – 46 Toilets

    – and I'm a tri-sexual Jedi

  23. The long form census collects valuable data that many governments, businesses and agencies using in making critical policy and program decisions. Making it voluntary is dumb, so much that even business and economic people are denouncing it. I have filled out that form and don't have a problem with the Government of Canada knowing I only have one bathroom. It's no big deal. On the other hand, given the Orwellian nature of this government, I'm not sure if this is just anti-science stupidity or a a devious attempt to deprive critics of empirical data that they could use to counter government decisions or propaganda. If the government says something is so, and it isn't, there might not be any reliable data to disprove its propaganda.The same rationale could be applied to another issue: If Canadians shouldn't be compelled by law to answer questions they aren't comfortable with, like Tony Clement says, then why do we have to file annual income tax returns? After all, I'm not comfortable discussing my personal finances with strangers, so I guess I'm off the hook, eh, Minister?

    • You are scary Suzie. The Harper government is the best government we have had in my 70 year lifetime. European socialist governments are reducing the census much further than Canada is even contemplating. Even Scandinavian countries may eliminate most of their census. You spend too much time reading the Toronto Star or rabble fools.

  24. I don't believe that this government particularly cares about non-existant privacy issues. I suspect that scrapping (or rendering useluss) the long-form census is part of the long-term goal of this government to reduce government intervention in society (a goal that Harper publically endorsed before he had to win elections). Absent credible data that can judge the efficacy of a government program, only ideology and political expediency can be used to judge. Thus employment equity, affordable housing, immigrant employment programs etc that grate with the Conservative base can be cancelled by claiming that they "don't work" without having to worry about reality intruding in the form of empirical data, rather than honestly claiming that "we don't like their social implications".

    • Absolutely right, If no one can disagree with empirical data to back them up, the Cons can get away with inventing any numbers they like!

  25. Government has no business in our private lives, intrusive information is used for populist social engineering that ends up becoming costly disasters.

  26. Poor Tony Clement, left hanging out there again, following "His Masters" orders like a clueless lapdog. Anything to protect his boss from criticism. Perhaps some of the questions on the long form need tweaking, to bring them up to the needs of todays Canadian population, and thats a job for an experienced statistician, how are the various levels of all governments, supposed to do any planning without this essential information? See Aster's comment above, right on. Oh I know, they have a fortune teller in the PMO. Remember the Walkerton tragedy & deaths, caused by the Harris govt' cuts to clean water safety. Tony Clement & several of his current cabinet buddies were M.P.P's in the Ontario government at that time. Same Old Same Old…

  27. Its about time the census is abolished, all it is, is a money grab by the government to sell our information to busness. I have been refusing to fill out the form for years, and now I am justified. Lets not talk about all the times informaton has been stolen, left on hard drives, in filing cabinets, and trunks of vehicles. GOOD RIDDANCE

    • There have not been a single instance of Census data stolen, left on hard drives, in filing cabinets, or trunks of vehicles. This has happened to tax data and military and diplomatic information, which have serious privacy and secrecy problems compared to the census. Personal information in the census has protection that is extreme. Most of it is never seen by human eyes before being added up. StatsCan employees have no internet access in their office, and only a handful have access to raw census data. If we want to improve privacy, all other departments require improvements long before the Census.

      • What planet are you from—Ottawa?? Just last census they found data in filing cabinets in Edmonton, the census before that they arrested and charged a man in Winnipeg, when they found census reports in his trunk, twice after the census offices closed down and the computers were sold, they found census info on the hard drives. these and more I have the newspaper clippings for. And as to who sees he finished form, well you must have never worked for the census. the person handing out the form checks to make sur eit is complete, they habs it on to their supervisor for final approval and so on up the line, everyone knows what is on your form and they also have your name and address, so much for privacy. So checkyour facts out

    • You're an idiot, do you live in a bubble? Wonder how many of the various services or protections established by governmental agencies based on census information you take for granted and use.

      • Yup I am a true idiot, Every paper I have read in the last three days are telling me that ( and this is a quote) "we spend huge dollars to get that information and use for our selves. Check the Saurday Globe and Mail and that other Ontario Paper, then you can apoligize, thanx.

        • If the Globe & Mail, which by the way I have had delivered for more than 20 years, is more suited to your way of thinking, why don't you comment there. Of course it costs a lot of money to implement the census. We are a large country & our population has changed considerably since the last census. we are in effect a huge corporation. Can you name any big companies that operate efficiently & profitably without spending large sums on fact finding. 'Business Census'. Perhaps I should have said you are myopic.

          • You are so close Estelle, I know companies and large corporation and government need information to grow and suceed, BUT and its a big BUT, we the population should not be forced by law to fill out forms the government then sells to private industry. How loud would you scream if "angus-Reid" phoned your house and said if you did not do one of their surveys, they would send the police to your door and arrest you, scary aint it???

  28. Concentrating on the bedroom issue is a small concern, if at all. The census asks much more private questions.. The last time we had the census a great many objected to these invasive questions contrary to what some are saying is minimal. Fining a person, or putting them in jail is rather extreme if one did not want to answer a particular one.

  29. Sunshine Coaster wrote:
    "Perhaps you didn't notice that the latest recession was caused primarily by housing developers and bankers working in tandem to bilk money out of ordinary taxpayers, until their greed finally burst the bubble"

    Actually, you can place blame on Clinton. He was pressured by minority interest groups to enable low-income Americans to buy their own homes. Banks had to lend to people they knew were a financial risk…..and you see the results of that policy. Developers and bankers didn't start the mess.

    Aster wrote:
    "Yes! And if I choose not to tell "some busybody beaurocrat (sic)" (i.e. City Hall )how many toilets will be in my new house (or if I will have a sceptic system, or if I will simply dump by waste into the steet…) then that should be my right too! Where do this wackjobs learn their political philosophy from… Sesame Street? "

    Aster…..come back when you gain another 20 IQ points. Once you've done that and break the 100 mark, come back with something sensible.

  30. Aster noted:
    "I don't believe that this government particularly cares about non-existant privacy issues. I suspect that scrapping (or rendering useluss) the long-form census is part of the long-term goal of this government to reduce government intervention in society "

    Great…that's why I vote for them. Less Government is exactly what we need. The only people complaining are the parasites that feed from those who actually DO make a contribution and create wealth.

    Here's a hint……if you are able bodied and fit,

    It is not MY JOB to see you have food on the table or a roof over your head. If you are able to work….you SHOULD BE WORKING.

    If you are holding out for a job that you think is worthy of your talents and letting ME pay your way….then you are a leech, and the job you refuse to do, is a job you don't deserve in any event.

    For all you unemployed Liberals out there who have not yet managed to belly up to the taxpayer trough….I bet your having second thoughts about that useless degree now eh?

  31. Mr. Potter, I think you are right to bring the power/knowledge conjunction to bear on the analysis of the long-form census. As you say, to mobilize power to change individuals and phenomena, we need knowledge about it. You can't figure out how to reduce traffic deaths until you know how many there are and how they happen. And, despite Tony Clement's cheap shots, you can't determine how many homes are over-crowded without knowing how many bedrooms and occupants these homes contain. (The Maclean's John Geddes had a great post on this.) So, yes, the long-form census is about extending the state's power to address certain problems.
    But your post falls apart in your “left vs. right” analysis and your use of Foucault. Foucault argued that power in society was not wielded solely by the law-enforcing state or by capitalists, and for that reason he was neither a traditional liberal nor a Marxist. He argued that there are other kinds of power, used by bureaucrats and schoolteachers and doctors and, yes, statisticians. Sometimes that power is used for good, and sometimes for exploitation and marginalization. The real question is whether knowledge and power are used to achieve objectives that, after reflection and discussion, we can agree on.
    I applaud those who raise concerns that information collected about us will be used to control our behavior in ways we don't want. Totalitarian regimes have done that. So have right-wing ‘democratic' governments. (Anyone remember McCarthyism?)
    But, as other posters have mentioned, reliable information is required for good government. The real question is this: What social problems were targeted by the information-gathering of the long-form census? What actual abuses of that information were feared?
    That is the debate we need. Not the Conservative red herrings that the census takes too much time or that individual information would become public (wholly unfounded, given StatsCan's safeguards). And not whether government statistics are a “left-wing” or “right-wing” concern.