7 Weeks Later, Tony Clement Springs Into Action
Stung by francophone anger, the Harper government is adding questions on French and English skills to the obligatory short-form 2011 census.
It’s a bid to quell the linguistic minority's fears that scrapping a longer mandatory survey will make it harder to measure their presence in Canada.
These questions were part of the 40-page long-form census the Conservatives are making voluntary over the objections of a broad range of economists, statisticians, provincial governments and researchers who warn it will undermine the reliability of Statistics Canada's data.
The decision came the same day a francophone appeal of the government's decision to abandon the obligatory long-form census scored a modest victory. A Federal Court judge agreed to expedite the French-Canadian group's application for an injunction against Ottawa's census changes.
In the same breath, however, Industry Minister Tony Clement also announced the Tories plan to chip away even further at the coercions put in place to convince Canadians to fill out Statistics Canada census forms and surveys.
He said the Tories will bring in legislation this fall to remove jail time as a possible penalty for refusing to fill out any and all surveys. This includes the still mandatory short-form census, which until now was composed of about eight questions, as well as all other surveys conducted by Statistics Canada.
This begs two questions:
1. With the Census having gone to print on Monday, what will the additional cost of this change be?
2. With the threat of jail time gone, why not make the long form mandatory? I thought the coercion of jail time was the entire rationale for this change?