Saturday, July 24, 2010

Conservatives Facing More Heat Over Census Decision

It seems to me the Canada's Conservative Party has done all it can to stay in the news in what should be the off-season, politically speaking. Parliament took its summer break four short weeks It has not done them credit. The $1 billion spent on security for the G8 and G20 summits which were essentially pro-forma - meaning the deals had been struck in advance so the entire show was about photo-ops mostly. Canadians are going to remember that..

I wish they'd remember the omnibus budget bill C-9 that was shoved down Canadian's throats but we'll take what we can get at this point. We're impressed on one level that Stephen Harper can make Michael Ignatieff look so great. Don't mistake that for a backhanded compliment - I like Mr. Ignatieff but have had more than a few doubts about his being a politician.

He seems to be learning though. His tour to talk and listen to Canadians will pay dividends I believe as he learns to better communicate his message. I listened to an interview on CBC 1 in Montreal (abysmal questioning) on Friday and he handled himself with aplomb in spite of the amateurish interviewer. It augers well for the fall session I hope.

So, back to Harper staying in the news. The census flap is turning out to be far worse than he could have expected. I mean all he wanted to do was throw his base a bone... right? Of course it was at the expense of the rest of Canada and unfortunately for Stephen someone stood up to let Canadians know.Munir Sheikh resigned because he knows the importance in the value of Statistics Canada as an institution.

Census surveys form the basis of much of Statistics Canada’s other analyses, including vital labour force measures such as the unemployment rate. It drives everything from corporate fundraising drives in Toronto to the deployment of B.C. lunch programs for school kids; and from the layout of suburban subdivisions to the prescriptions of think tanks of every ideological bent.

Restaurants use information from the long form to help determine where to locate and how to target their marketing. Census information turns out to be an unexpectedly effective fundraising tool.

Census data such as mother tongue and family income also allows provincial education officials to target resources for services such as B.C.'s breakfast programs for schoolchildren and English-as-a-second language instruction in Ontario cities with large numbers of newcomers. In Penticton, B.C., two elementary schools receive extra funds for a hot-lunch program thanks to census tract data that reveals which neighbourhoods have relatively high concentrations of poor families.

Here's a list of organizations who are against the scrapping of the long form census:

Canadian Jewish Congress

Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Registered Nurses of Ontario

Canadian Conference of the Arts

Canada West Foundation

Canadian Nurses Association

Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Council on Social Development

United Way Canada

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada

Canadian Marketing Association

Marketing Research and Intelligence Association

Manitoba Bureau of Statistics

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Canadian Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities

Societe franco-manitobaine

Association francophone des municipalites du Nouveau-Brunswick

Canadian Institute of Planners

Canadian Association for Business Economics

Canadian Association of University Teachers

Institute for Research on Public Policy

Quebec Community Groups Network

Atlantic Provinces Economic Council

New Brunswick Association of Social Workers

C.D. Howe Institute

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Statistical Society of Canada

Canadian Economics Association

Canadian Association of Public Data Users

Information and Communications Technology Council

Ancestry.ca

Environics Analytics

The best thing from the perspective of someone who wants to see anyone other than Harper in the PM's office is that he's too much of an ideologue to back down or change his mind and it'll cost him.