[Picture: Background — a six piece pie style colour split, alternating dark blue and light blue. Foreground — a picture of Stephen Harper. Top text: “Long form census too invasive” Bottom text: “spy on you on the internet”]
I jacked this from Meme Generator. If it’s yours, tell us and we’ll give credit.
Because the Conservatives looking at your Facebook page somehow makes the long-form census less of an invasion of privacy?
1) This is referring not only to the Cons’ facebook creeping, but also to their support for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, one of the major criticisms of which is that it “would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms… most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy.”
2) How is the long-form census an invasion of privacy? It’s completely confidential. The purpose of the long-form census is to collect facts to help the government do its job. To quote from my co-blogger’s blogspot,
“This isn’t about privacy. It’s about information. It’s about the anti-intellectualism of neo-conservativism. It’s about crippling the opposition to Harper’s policies by making it more difficult to confront his ideology with facts.
“The questions that have been cut have to do with disability, language, race, ethnicity, mobility, level of education, unpaid household labour and care-work, employment status, income, and home ownership.
“Eliminating these questions harms equality-seeking groups, by lowering the quality of the data they need for advocacy, for determining where services are needed, and for tracking what kind of progress is being made. Harper has made no secret of the fact that he has a hate-on for such groups; one of his earliest actions in office was to scrap the Court Challenges Fund, which partially covered the costs of equality-based Charter challenges.”
The point here is that Harper is a hypocrite. He cut the long-form census because he claimed it was too invasive, but he supports other policies that are more invasive.
1. Harper is a hypocrite, no dispute there. Politicians in general are hypocrites. The phrase you quoted above on the ACTA makes you appear a hypocrite. There you talk about not restricting fundamental rights and freedoms, and then the next part talks about how a mandatory 40-page census is not (?) an invasion of privacy? …What?
2. You need to distinguish between the Conservatives’ political agenda and the moral conflicts of a mandatory census. A mandatory census is abhorrent, regardless of any political party in power. The original purpose of the census was to collect information about the number of residents in Canadian cities with respect to assigning seats in Parliament. The purpose of the census today is to allow economists, social activists, politicians, researchers and the like to collect free information about private citizens at the expense of the citizens. This remains, regardless of any political party in power.
The government already has much of the information that is required to form demographic analyses. That is - answers about disability, language, ethnicity, level of education, unpaid household labour and care-work, employment status, income, and home ownership, (continue ad nauseum) can be gathered via income tax return forms, via drivers licenses, via SIN records (continue ad nauseum) which are already mandatory. Thus on those grounds it is illogical to expect the taxpayer to fill out a 40-page form containing personal information (um, who’s business is it how many loose tiles I have in my house?) when the necessary demographic information relevant to governance has already been filled out.
To quote the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the matter (*ahem*):
Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. -Section 8, Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
And to quote the Supreme Court on the matter:
“In fostering the underlying values of dignity, integrity and autonomy, it is fitting that s. 8 of the Charter should seek to protect a biographical core of personal information which individuals in a free and democratic society would wish to maintain and control from dissemination to the state.” - R. v. Plant (1993).
And then, to quote Section 31 of the Statistics Act:
for every refusal or neglect, or false answer or deception, [a person is] guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both. - Section 31, Statistics Act of Canada.
So there we have it, the inherent contradiction of the legal system that will legally punish a taxpayer and citizen for failing to disclose information to the federal government in order to preserve their privacy, a right which is granted by the Charter and has been protected by the Supreme Court. The CHARTER right to privacy of information is a higher right than the government’s desire to collect information, and it is a higher right than any social activist groups’ claims to said information (it is especially higher if said information is available in other forms).
The long-form is now voluntary, you can fill it out if you wish. And if you don’t nothing will happen to you - you won’t be fined, jailed or dragged to court. THIS IS GOOD, regardless of the political party in power. You need to disassociate the idea of the Conservatives being power-hungry politicians from the idea of mandating that private citizens offer personal information to the state, and legally punishing them when they choose not to. One is good, the other is bad. Which do you think it is?
Information gathered for statistical purposes - ie. for policy-making, not for keeping tabs on individuals - that is kept anonymous and confidential is not an invasion of privacy.
Scrapping the census is part of the Conservative’s political agenda. They are against basing policy on facts. They build prisons and fabricate a phantom crime-wave to justify it. They deny climate change. They are resentful of groups that use statistical information for advocacy. The long form census is not a violation of privacy; as proven by ACTA the Conservatives don’t care about privacy. This is about information.
You state the purpose of the census today, “to allow economists, social activists, politicians, researchers and the like to collect free information about private citizens at the expense of the citizens” as if that’s some horrible thing. The census is being conducted anyways, it can’t cost much more to tack on some extra questions. And the research is being conducted for the benefit of Canadian citizen. Researchers are collecting information to ensure good policy-making at my expense? I don’t have a problem with that.
The census is not an “unreasonable search”. As I already explained, the extra census information is kept anonymous and confidential. It is not used to implicate individuals in criminal proceedings.
R. v. Plant involved information being obtained by the police so they could charge the complainant with a criminal offence. Information collected under the census is not used against the interests of individual citizens. R. v. Plant is not applicable to the census in any way, and I challenge you to find a well-respected legal scholar who would agree with that interpretation.
Charter rights do not automatically supersede government purposes - that’s why we have section 15. Collecting information for policy making is an important aim, and doing so in an anonymous and confidential way minimizes any infringement of privacy. If this were a question before the Supreme Court, I am confident that they would not take issue with the long-form census.
It would probably be more costly to collect and amalgamate information from the variety of other sources that you suggest, rather than doing a simple questionaire.
Making the long-form voluntary lowers the quality of information. The results will no longer be as representative of the Canadian population.
The mandatory long-form census is a good thing. It provides vital information for a variety of groups, ensuring better policies and better governance. That Harper scrapped it shows that he is not interested in good policy and good governance based on facts; rather he is interested in pursuing an afactual, ideological agenda.
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