I tell you, this federal government of ours certainly has a talent for making me enraged over issues I previously didn’t give two figs about.
I did this personality test thingie recently that said, on how I relate to other people, is that most of all, I just want them to make sense. Probably why I’m employed in the geeky world of computers, driven by the implacable software logic of 1s and 0s. And certainly why politics in general, and the Conservative party in particular, make me crazy.
According to Jeffrey Simpson in The Globe and Mail, making the long-form census optional was all Stephen Harper’s idea, and both Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty opposed it. But any points Clement might have gained (from me) for that initial stance has been squandered by his soldering on, defending the thing.
Of course, the particularities of the defense need to keep changing in light of those pesky facts. First I heard him on CBC Radio arguing that the optional census would be just as good, and if you can’t trust the government on that, at least trust Stats Canada! Because they were totally behind this!
That complete lie was exposed with the dramatic (at least in the world of stats) resignation of the head of Stats Canada over those allegations.
Round two. OK, so the data won’t be as good, but it’s worth it, because it’s just too much intrusion on people’s lives. Oh, and like the tax form isn’t? Way more personal, really, and not anonymized! Also, there was the irritating fact that there was no evidence of mass complaints about the census, and exactly zero people had ever been jailed for not filling it in.
Meanwhile, the list of those opposed to scraping the mandatory census continued to grow.
Round three. All these critics are just moochers on the federal government. They just don’t want to do the heavy lifting themselves, and get their own data.
Imagine. Thinking that a Federal government should centralize a service useful to all Canadians! Crazy talk! Of course, every level of government and every agency should raise their taxes and deficits and prices so they can all do their own mandatory census (let’s ignore they don’t power of law behind for that), then spend even more money trying put all these separate surveys together into a coherent package! That is so much more inefficient and time-consuming and expensive, it’s got to be the better way, right?
(Maybe this is a weird stimulus package?)
And the thing, this whole mess isn’t even giving the Conservatives a political advantage. It’s not like the other illogical things they like to get behind, like fighting imaginary crime, that will at least instinctively appeal to some. Nobody cares about the census.
Or they didn’t. But they now do, but they don’t agree with Conservatives, who are now at their lowest poll numbers in ages. Which would be the one thing to be happy about, except that no one other single party is really gaining tons of support either, so Conservatives would probably still win the damn election with another minority.