Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Long Form Census Fiasco

It is a truism of politics that governments defeat themselves.  Typically death comes from the cumulative impact of a thousand cuts.  The long form census issue is more like a gash. All the more remarkable is that the government's only defence, that the long form census is an invasion of privacy, is completely hypocritical, as Tom Walkom demonstrates well in this column:
Two things stand out about the great Canadian census controversy.

The first is that there is a controversy. Who could have predicted that the federal government’s decision to eliminate something as profoundly prosaic as the mandatory long-form census questionnaire would generate such fierce opposition?

The second is the shameless hypocrisy shown by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
Industry Minister Tony Clement says he’s axing the mandatory questionnaire because the state has no right to demand intrusive information, such as the number of bedrooms in a home.

Yet his is the same government that requires airlines to collect and hand over detailed personal information on everyone who flies – and then give much of it to a foreign state.
And who could have imagined an issue that would produce a backyard protest song based on an old Gary Lewis and Playboys hit: