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My quick two cents on the census fiasco

What is the issue?

The Conservative Government decided that it would kill the mandatory long- form census it normally sends out to thousands of Canadians every five years. Instead, a mandatory short form will go out to everyone for next year’s census, with basic questions about how many people live in the household and their ages and genders.

Having just returned from my 100% digitally disconnected cottage vacation, I’ve had quite a bit of catching up to do on this whole situation. Rather than re-stating what has already been written, I want to point you to my colleagues David Eaves (from and Tracey Lauriault (from who are both still providing some quality insight and analysis of this issue on their blogs as it evolves.

Why is this a really bad decision and why should you care?

I’d rather you read the reasons from this rapidly growing list of opposing organizations because the reasons are endless. In short, the government is getting rid of the primary source for evidence-based decision making, and thus will have an excuse to rely on hunch based decisions that conveniently fit the current government’s agenda. This is quite possibly one the most poorly thought out moves ever made by our government. There will be implications for every person in every line of business in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Here are three posts I strongly advise you read:

What about the Scandinavian model in which countries have successfully gotten rid of the census?

Here is quote from Gustave Goldmann, formerly a senior official at Statistics Canada:

“The critics often cite examples of countries that have done away with the census as evidence Canada should do the same in the name of privacy. What they fail to acknowledge is that the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and other European states have extensive administrative data bases that contain the same information that Canada gathers in the census. These data include registration numbers that are used to create linked data bases for all individuals living in these countries. The residents (citizens and non-citizens alike) in these countries are obliged to provide this information. All interactions with the state (health, education, taxation, the justice system, migration) are recorded in these data bases.”

What about the argument that this is to protect our privacy?

Read this post: It was never about privacy

What can you do?

You can sign this massive petition to reverse the decision on canceling the long-form census.

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  1. Great post! The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) has also stated that “the long-form census is a key element in maintaining the conditions propitious for credible social research. Moreover, in a knowledge-based economy, reliable information is essential for evidence based public-policy making.”

    Our President recently wrote a letter to Minister Clement on behalf of the Council of the Royal Society of Canada, conveying our concern about the proposed cancellation of the mandatory long-form census for 2011.

    This letter will be posted on our website at

  2. […] Along comes the new, exciting world of social media and suddenly people think that everyone will want to talk about their offering if only they practice 2-way engagement. While I am a huge proponent of digital engagement, keep in mind that I also actively preach a strategic approach to it, not a “jump in the fire and see what happens” approach. Part of this approach is understanding audience needs and modifying your 4P’s accordingly if need be.   If you do decide to engage right a way, then instead of intercepting your audience with information about your service/product, try asking them what they think, and whether or not they have suggestions for improvement. Otherwise, key influencers in your audience may see your engagement as an opportunity to vent.  Don’t be surprised if this happens, and embrace it with all your might. This could be the best piece of business intelligence that you will get for a long time (especially given what’s happening with the Census). […]

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