The Canadian Census

Topic : Canada Census –

The Star this morning has a list of recent articles within its pages on the subject of the 2011 census. Many of the arguments in favour of retaining the long-form census in its present form, with the mandatory aspect, come from the folks who depend on its information to design everything from the next red hot gadget to policies governing higher education and hospitals. Young people planning a career can search for information about job prospects and health care managers on the population trends within their area. Do they need more nursery bassinets  or nursing homes?
What about power needs? The Conservatives say the state has no business asking you how many bedrooms are in your house? Do you know a better way to judge the size of a house, and its likely power requirements?

I’ve been an amateur genealogist for some years now. Long enough to have endured the privacy commissioner’s decision, now retracted, to disallow all future access to census data for genealogical purposes. It was to have begun with the 1911 census but both that and the 1916 are available online. At least, the information from the short form is.

At this time genealogy is a popular pastime. Television programs such as Who Do You Think You Are and Ancestors in the Attic have loyal followings. Future genealogists however will find their past locked away in the vaults, even if their ancestors, us, filled out the forms.

Trivial you say? Perhaps. The need for information in all government departments, in industry, in social and educational planning is not. I think it is important that we understand the make-up of our country. In short, how we are doing? The census, in place in all countries in the sphere of the British Empire since 1841, has been the source of reliable information. Why is the government so intent on fixing what isn’t broken?

Oh, and don’t tell us people have complained. Not according to StatsCan, or the privacy commissioner. We know that’s a conservative  American problem, not ours. As usual, Tories pandering to their base support and their heroes across the border.

Facts are so troublesome. No wonder the Tories don’t want us to have access to them. We might understand just how incompetent and ideologically driven they are.

Will I fill out my long form if I get one? Yes indeed. Not because I think the government has chosen the right path, but because I want future information to be as accurate as possible in the circumstances. And that will introduce my bias into their data.

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