Your Letters: Importance of the Census

Dear Irene,

At first glance you might think that all this talk about the long form census is much ado about nothing. After all, few amongst us sit around thinking- “boy oh boy do I ever look forward to having to fill out the census form every five years, and I really hope I get randomly picked to fill out the long form version- it is better than winning the lottery!” However, you would be wrong about the census not being worth the bother- especially if you live in rural or small town Canada- or heaven forbid trying to eke out a living farming.

You see, the data gathered through both the long and short census form have been crucial in making the case for many of the shortfalls in services we in rural and small town Canada receive. When the National Farmers Union started to question the government of the day’s claims of increased farm income and rosy portraits of the financial life of farmers it was, in part, to census data that researchers looked to get a better picture of realized net income. It was from this data and the research that the NFU came up with the term farm income crisis- something that is now readily accepted. But at the time, government denied the income problems and it was only because of this publicly accessible data that government could be proven wrong in their pretence to the Canadian people.

Like taking yucky tasting medicine, filling out our census is a bit of a minor pain in the seating area of our pants- however, it is worth it to have a robust and functioning democracy and an equitable distribution of our pooled resources (more commonly known as our tax dollars).

There can only be two real reasons for the Harper Conservative government to want to scrap the long form census because the reasons they give defy both logic and common sense.

1. This is a government so steeped in secrecy it is afraid of what Canadians might discover about themselves; much better to try to buffalo Canadians into believing government-approved utter nonsense. Stockwell Day’s recent pronouncement that we need to spend billions on new jails because of the increase in unreported crime seems to back this up.

2. Since this is one of the worst and at the same time most ideological governments of our time- making Mulroney and Chretien even look good (no easy task that)- this government believes that the government they themselves are running is a hindrance to the well-being of Canadians. They just don’t take their responsibilities serious.

This government’s actions make no sense from a public policy point of view. As someone who has worked with Statistic Canada information to demonstrate the failure of government policy I can also say with a great deal of experience to back me up, that this government, by this and many other actions, is actively working against the interests of rural and small town Canada. In fact, this government, despite their rhetoric is actually making things worse, not better for those of us in rural Canada, to the point that the only option is to defeat and replace them at the earliest opportunity. This is especially true in ridings like my own (Huron-Bruce) where our Conservative MP is invisible in Ottawa and failing to speak up for our communities. When someone is knowingly lying to you- what else can you do?

Grant Robertson
Paisley, On