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Update: The Census

Posted by Don McLenaghen on August 12, 2010

Recently Stockwell Day said that the Harper conservatives will push ahead with its plan to spend the government will go ahead with its plan to spend billions for new prisons. To support this spending, he states that the number of ‘unreported’ crimes is on the increase and that therefore the number of crimes must also be increasing. This in spite of the fact that StatsCan shows that both the number of crimes are going down as well as the ‘severity of crime’. Severity of crime is a relatively new calculation to compensate for the fact that its possible for the total number of crimes to go down while the number of ‘violent’ or sever crimes rise.

Stockwell said that statistics that show crime is declining in Canada are not accurate. A not so subtle shot at the long form census. He also questioned the value of information gathered by the census, suggesting data older than a year is “untenable in today’s information age.

However, when pressed to provide a source for his “unreported” crime numbers, his office a few days after the news conference sites StatsCan’s survey on “National Victimization”…a survey done every 5 years….the last one, and the apparent source of Stockwell’s info, was done in 2006…more than a year ago.

One can think the conservative government was trying to instill fear in our society this this kind of press conference because that same survey showed that most, as in 80-90+ % were satisfied with the police, the judiciary and the prison system. In a related international ‘victimization” survey, StatsCan also showed that relative to other western democracies, we are better off than England but worse than France and in all categories were around average.

Another note on this, Harper has complained that the fines were too high (for the record, it is only $1000, and not the $5,000 we incorrectly reported last time nor the $10,000 the Harper government erroneous repeats).If the fines are too high or jail is too radical, why not maintain the long form census and just change/reduce the penalties?

I think we are seeing a pattern here. I find it hard to believe the conservatives are willing to take this political hit to satisfy their libertarian supported, there just is not enough of them in Canada to make if worth while. However, by illuminating an ‘independent and unimpeachable’ source of data, passing law for ideological and rational reasons becomes easier.

In response to the almost universal condemnation of abandoning the long form census and (the far more motivational) legal action by francophone and Acadia groups (who fear a loss of services due to the switch to a inaccurate voluntary survey) Minister Clement has added three question to the survey. These questions ask about the language of the survey taker.

IF you want to read more, the CBC (in this case imitating WikiLeaks), has a dump of docs about the debate and more importantly the lead up to the resignation of the head of StatsCan.
<part one>
<part two>

Also, i came across this article that stated that some people did actually get fined for not filling-out the census, although it unclear if it is the short or long from.

2 Responses to “Update: The Census”

  1. Brandon said

    It appears Stockwell Day cites a stat that he himself declares to be irrelevant by both criticizing the process and the institution under which the info was gathered as a catalyst for massive expenditure by his party ( I refer to it as a party how can it be thought of as anything else).The unpredictability of the Conservatives is sadly predictable.

  2. Gerald said

    Hmmm? If the rational for building more prisons is unreported crime, then how are they going to get convictions for those crimes?? They are unrepoted. No police involvement, no charges, no convictions and no prisoners. Perhaps the extra room could be used for a trendy B&B.

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