Friday, August 06, 2010

Being Tony Clement

Tony Clement, explaining the government's census logic:

“Yeah, there are groups that are upset” about the government's decision, Clement told reporters.

“Hey, listen, they had a good deal going,” he added. “They got good, quality data and the government of Canada was the heavy.”

Realizing fewer people will fill out a voluntary form, the government will send it to twice as many households, Clement said. He said businesses or others who don't think the data is good enough can pay to get their own surveys done.

So, to summarize:

1. Cities, hospitals, businesses, and a slew of other Canadian groups used to get "good, quality data" to help them make decisions, plan programs, and offer services to Canadians. This was a bad thing.

2. Given Clement's use of the past tense, he concedes they will no longer get "good, quality data".

3. The government used to pay for this freeloading, which was unfair.

4. The government will now pay an extra $30 million under Clement's new plan.

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  • Not to mention the fact that the tri-council agencies, which are federally funded, will have cover more and more costs associated with primary data collection.

    Pure stupidity.

    By Anonymous Elaine, at 12:30 p.m.  

  • Actually, the orgs and so on didn't just "get" good quality data, they 'paid' for the good quality data from StatsCan.

    Apparently, Tony's trying to make the argument it offends the government's libertarian sensibilities to have to occasionally enforce the Criminal Code so that it can 'coerce' people to give it data for it to then sell to other orgs.

    By Blogger Oxford County Liberals, at 12:34 p.m.  

  • The can't have a very high opinion of their base, can they?

    By Anonymous ace, at 1:13 p.m.  

  • Yeah; re: the 3rd pt, I posted on this on Scott's site earlier today (hopefully the comment will be approved) and at another site (link at bottom).

    Tony's not really talking about the economic cost here (but if he is, he's dead wrong, not only cuz the non-gov users have been paying upwards of $100-M for it until now, but also, as you pt. out, cuz now the govt is going to be paying $30M more for data they'll be less able to sell.)

    He's actually making the whiny spouse's complaint here about the unfairness of parenting:

    Why do [we] always have to be the heavy and be the ones to threaten or dole out the punishment? (While you get all the love.)

    Which can make sense in a parenting situation, where both parties have the right to exercise appropriate discipline over their charges, & can share the punitive duties.

    But it does _not_ make sense here, because the other users of the data -- the private & nonprofit sectors (and the other levels of govt, at this stage) -- quite simply do _not_ have the right to coerce people into answering their surveys.

    So it's completely inappropriate to claim they're freeloading by not running compulsory surveys themselves. Maybe they would, if they could, but they can't!

    It's like complaining that your neighbours & schools are freeloading off your punishing your children to stop vandalizing their property etc... that if they wanted well-behaved children in the neighbourhoood, they should discipline them themselves.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:29 p.m.  

  • Not to mention that in some provinces municipalities aren't even legally allowed to collect census-like data.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:08 p.m.  

  • He's such a loser on this issue.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Vert, at 6:03 p.m.  

  • It would be very embarassing for Tony Clement if it were to ever emerge that the Demographics and Cartography Division of the Little Shop of Tories has made extensive use of the 20% census data on things like ethnicity and religion in doing its riding profiles and targetting projects.

    I wonder what the GIS whiz-kids at the LST think of the census fiasco, in the privacy of their own heads?

    By Anonymous guiphec, at 10:21 p.m.  

  • I think the census move is a bad one, but the idea that governments objectively use the data before them to allocate resources is a bit of a stretch.

    Politicians seek re-election and bureaucrats defend departmental interests. Neither advance through the ranks by crafting good public policy.

    Arguably, good data can result in worse public policy, given election-seeking motives. All voters are not equally important. If you live somewhere in Brampton, you are more politically desirable than if you live in Calgary or Labrador. So with good data (particularly good demographic data), it is possible to craft policies that will disproportionately benefit some parts of the country. The Conservatives do this explicitly with their "narrowcasting" approach.

    In contrast, absent good data, narrow-casting is no longer feasible. Instead politicians may put forth something close to governing in the public interest because it is so difficult to craft targeted policies. Indeed, this may explain why we had broad-based policies in the 50's and 60's, and wedge politics more recently.

    Better data is only a good thing if politicians and bureaucrats have selfless motives.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 2:04 p.m.  

  • Well, H2H obviously has not studied the data from the last election, but his point is valid nonetheless.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:41 a.m.  

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