Friday, July 16, 2010

The Fraser Institute: Truthiness Over Fact Based Research

Warren Kinsella defends Tony Clement, and a National Post editorial rips into the Tories:

This is profoundly undignified governance. If, as it seems, the government cannot defend changing the census on any logical, resonant or particularly urgent grounds, it should abandon the undertaking until it’s prepared to do so.

My world is upside down! Luckily, the Fraser Institute is here to restore the natural order of things into place:

The chief economist of the Fraser Institute supports the Conservative government’s decision to scrap the long-form mandatory census, saying voluntary surveys will yield enough accurate information about the country and critics saying otherwise are “vested interest groups.”

The Fraser Institute uses long-form data in its school report card rankings, Mr. Veldhuis said, but he believes the short-form census — which will remain mandatory — the voluntary census and other polling, market research and voluntary surveys conducted by private companies will provide more than enough data on Canadians.

The think-tank recently conducted a survey asking people about their tax returns, he said, and they used short-form census data to ensure they had even geographical distribution across Canada. When asked how they would ensure even representation across different income and ethnic groups on such surveys without reliable long-form data, Veldhuis questioned why those differences would matter.

This is what should be worrying average Canadians — this information is used by central planners to plan how to tinker with the lives of Canadians,” he said of the ways in which census data is used.

Now, I could try to discredit Veldhuis - it certainly strikes me as odd that he doesn't think one's income would impact their opinions on tax returns. But no, I'll leave it to Tony Clement to attack him.

Instead, I ran a search of articles on the Fraser Institute's website for the word "Census". I got 313 responses. Here are some highlights from from articles that came up on the first search page:

1. Is Toronto in decline? Compares income numbers for Toronto from the 2001 and 2006 Census (long form question!). Also looks at Torontonians' employment sectors (long form question!).

Is there Really a Looming Labour Shortage in Canada and, if there is, can Increased Immigration Fill the Gap? Looks at Census data to see role of immigrants (long form question!) in the Canadian labour force (long form question!).

BC's Agricultural Land Reserve a costly failure responsible for the most expensive housing costs in North America. Cites Census data showing what percentage of income (long form question!) is spent on housing (long form question!) for different age groups.

To Fix Health Care, Follow the Money. Looks at detailed wage data (long form question!) by employment (long form data!).

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