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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Long Census Goodbye

Yes, it is over:

A civil servant in charge of the census says it’s already too late to bring back the mandatory, long-form questionnaire for 2011.

Marc Hamel says it’s no longer logistically possible to distribute the mandatory long census in the same format as previous national surveys.

Hamel made the statement in documents filed last month in Federal Court.

While the long-form is dead, its spirit lives on in the hearts of its defenders. As a fully paid up member of the Libertarian Cavalry - a strange, but not uncommon place for a classical liberal to be - what can I say? This is the smallest of victories against big government. To celebrate would be akin to a grossly obese man rejoicing in having lost a pound. Progress it is, but you can't escape the suspicion that it isn't much, and it's probably just water weight. 

The mind of the politician is a strange one. It must be able to balance obvious contradictions. Take conservatives who cry havoc over the right to own firearms, yet talk casually of life sentences for growers of a few pot plants. Call them on that contradiction and you get, as I've gotten, the solemn explanation that marijuana is dangerous. It's a gateway drug, you see. By that logic a BB gun is a gateway weapon. Next thing you know the little tyke will have a full arsenal, complete with M1 Abrams tank. 

The contradictions between the long form census, and almost everything the Conservative government has done these last four years, is just as stark. But was it disingenuous of Mr Harper and Mr Clemens to say they scraped the long-form in the name of freedom? Who knows. If it was a sop to the libertarians in the Tory base, those that remain anyway, it came across instead as patronizing. "Hi there libertarians! I've got something just for you! It's a reduction in the scale and scope of government so small you can measure it in microns. There you go." 

Sure, it's the principle of the thing. But even as principled blows for freedom, it is a shallow one. The federal government cannot legally compel me to tell it how many washrooms I have. Great. The municipal government can legally compel me to divulge the same information, and even allow inspectors on my property without a warrant. No longer will I be threatened with jail time for refusing to tell Statistics Canada my yearly income. The Canada Revenue Agency, however, can threaten with both hands. This summer Leviathan got tapped in the shins. Courtesy of the Libertarian Cavalry and Stephen Harper's ego.

Posted by Richard Anderson on September 8, 2010 | Permalink


It's even shallower than you think. It means the next gov. will just have to redo the thing to make up for Harper's screw-up. That's what you get pandering to the five teenage libertarions that support these changes to the long-form.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2010-09-08 8:19:51 AM

Yes I find the whole thing quite underwhelming.

Posted by: Farmer Joe | 2010-09-08 8:25:03 AM

Who says they'll have to redo it, BCL? Other socialist countries manage to provide extensive government services without censuses. Most of those bemoaning the loss of the long form are government bureaucrats and identity groups receiving payouts. That should tell you something about the true motive behind this teapot tempest.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-09-09 9:48:41 AM

excellent post, Publius.

Posted by: Shel | 2010-09-10 9:18:26 PM

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