On the dismantling of StatsCan / by Simmon Li

I was reading a bunch of articles on this census issue, and it dawned on me. If the sitting government can strong arm StatsCan to its will, then do we, as citizens, have any reason to view StatsCan as an unbiased source of information? This is a very interesting question to me. I've never questioned any statistics I've gotten from StatsCan in the past. I've always assumed they were not partial to a cause, and that they report what the truth is. Given the recent news though, I am not so sure I would take StatsCan's word for the whole truth. Some people already don't. In a CBC online poll, they asked whether people believed StatsCan's crime statistics, and about 25% said they did not ((http://www.cbc.ca/politics/insidepolitics/2010/08/question-of-the-day-164.html)). I believe the stat, I feel that the stat is true. I'm sure there are pockets of crime, but due to averaging out, over-all the trend is in decline. If the sitting government can strong arm StatsCan into changing a fundamental tool for assessing the Canadian population, then one has to wonder what else they can do to the integrity of the institution. The whole reason for this change, that I've read, is for privacy concerns. I find it appalling that our sitting government would have the audacity to lie to us like that. I, along with the very unscientific poll on CBC ((http://www.cbc.ca/news/pointofview/2010/07/census-are-the-questions-invasive.html)), feel that the questions included on the long form census are somewhat of a necessity, and hardly constitute an "invasion of privacy". The questions are reasonable and help the government to determine where they should spend our tax dollars. I don't see the "privacy" angle on this one, as hard as I try. Sure, information could be gained by third parties in an unscrupulous manner, but that's a risk with everything that we do in this digital age, and I would imagine that the government would take the care and precautions to make sure our data is kept safe and private. What the conservatives need to do is realize that this issue goes beyond the lobby groups that, rightly so, have been protesting that they will under-represent certain groups, and look at what this says about the integrity of StatsCan as an institution that people turn to for unbiased data.

So here's what I want to end with. As a citizen, the reasons provided to me for the change to a voluntary long-form census are not sufficient. Why, Mr. Harper, do you feel that a voluntary long-form census would benefit Canada as a whole?