It was a simple enough argument to understand at the time. Then-industry minister Tony Clement spelled it out – “a little bit rhetorically,” as he put it – for his colleagues in the House of Commons in September 2010. If someone in Canada did not want to fill out a 40-page long-form census brimming with “personal, private” questions about things like who they are, what they believe, or “about their day-to-day routines” was it really appropriate that the government harass them until they do, or threaten to send them to jail? No, Clement said, it was not.
And yet, he went on, that was clearly what the other federal parties believed.
Well, sort of. It was at least true that they opposed making the mandatory long-form census a voluntary survey from the moment Clement announced the change earlier that summer. In fact they were still opposing it moments before Clement stood to talk that day. Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett had just finished calling the decision to eliminate the mandatory census “an attack on reason.” Before her, Maria Mourani, then a Bloc Quebecois MP, said the move was “nothing more than the government’s underhanded way of ensuring that the facts are less reliable in the future, so that it can continue saying whatever it wants about any topic” without ever being contradicted by Statistics Canada.
Clement was duly shocked and saddened by the opposition.Read More