Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lindsay Lohan goes to jail. Another example of state coercion?

OK, OK. The headline has little to do with this post, but I figured no one would read it if they deduced this was the third straight post on the friggin' Census. So indulge me for a moment and don't worry - next week, I'll get back to more important topics, like making fun of politicians in cowboy hats (which reminds me, please e-mail me any pictures you snap of politicians at the Stampede!).

Although Tony Clement was quiet in his initial decision to defile the Census, he has defended the move over Twitter, showing the eloquence and reason we've come to expect from the man who found a way to lose 4 elections within a 2 year span. Via Wherry, here's a selection of Tony's tweets:

TonyClement_MP @wicary Actually the Long Form is still around & will be going to more Cdns–minus the state coercion.
Harbles @TonyClement_MP However the statistical randomness is gone making the data skewed.
TonyClement_MP @Harbles Wrong. Statisticians can ensure validity w larger sample size
stephenfgordon @TonyClement_MP Wrong. Large samples can’t fix sample selection biases.
TonyClement_MP @stephenfgordon Which is why proper weighting will be used, as always the case
stephenfgordon @TonyClement_MP Where will the weights come from? Other voluntary surveys get their weights from the census.
c_9 @TonyClement_MP But weighting is done based on CENSUS DATA. Can’t weight the original data. Answers to these concerns somewhere?
TonyClement_MP @c_9 Folks! There is STILL a mandatory Census!
stephenfgordon @TonyClement_MP How can we reweight for education and income using short form data?

I know if I pointed out that the Minister of Industry shows a glaring lack of understanding of how the Census and statistics in general work, I'd come across sounding like one of those elitists he hates so much. So I'll refrain from pointing that out.

Besides, Clement made this decision despite the objections of the experts at Stats Canada so I don't think he really cares about the science behind it (Tony Clement motto: "Science is for elites"). This isn't too surprising from the guy who thinks he knows more about safe injection sites than Canadian doctors.

No, Tony makes it clear he's making this move to spare Canadians from "state coercion".

Now, to the best of my knowledge, there aren't any documented instances of Census workers using Jack Bauer style interrogation techniques, holding a knife to someone's eye and screaming "". So I'll presume Tony is referring to the threat of a $500 fine or 3 months in jail for not completing the Census.

Let's put aside the fact that no one ever actually goes to jail for not filling out the Census and look at Clement's claim. His argument is that threatening to send someone to jail for breaking the law is coercion. This, from the "tough on crime" party.

Equally perplexing is that the short form will remain mandatory. So presumably, Canadians will still be "coerced" into completing their short form. I'd really like an explanation from Tony why short form coercion is acceptable when long form coercion isn't.

In fairness to Clement, he did also raise the issue of "intrusiveness" in another tweet. Personally, I don't think asking 1/5th of Canadians to fill out a form every 5 years is overly intrusive when the information remains 100% confidential. I'm not aware of a single instance where the anonymity of Census data has been compromised but, if this has occured, I invite the Minister of Industry to tweet about it.

Given the backlash we've seen to this move, Clement owes us more than a 140 character explanation.

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  • Actually, starting from the 1906 census, respondents were told the information would be confidential in perpetuity however the law was later changed retroactively.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:39 p.m.  

  • I don't think anyone is going to object to their info being made public 92 years after the fact.

    Regardless, whether or not to make info public 92 years later is a separate issue.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:49 p.m.  

  • Actually, starting from the 1906 census, respondents were told the information would be confidential in perpetuity

    Actually, that's not true.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:52 p.m.  


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:53 p.m.  

  • Genealogists and historians campaigned for years for legislation making post 1901 census information available, and got it in 2005. This genealogist sees the decision as an end run around that, to avoid public access after 92 years:

    Here's his info about the 2005 legislation:

    By Blogger Holly Stick, at 3:06 p.m.  

  • Lindsay Lohan in the title actually makes me less inclined to read a post. I'd be more intrigued if you mentioned a bigger celebrity, like Jake and Vienna from The Bachelor.

    As for the body of the post, I feel the government needs to sort itself out. If they want to save money and not "coerce" Canadians, just ask the basic census questions. If they want useful data, preserve the long-form. The choice is simple.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 4:10 p.m.  

  • Some photo of Lindsay's middle fingernail huh? Imagine going to court with F*uck U painted on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:18 p.m.  

  • On a positive, this blog will probably have a good google rank for "Lindsay Lohan" + "Census".

    By Anonymous Deb, at 4:54 p.m.  

  • "Feds cancel oilsands pollution probe": Calgary Herald, Wednesday, July 07, 2010.

    "Federal politicians from the government and opposition benches have mysteriously cancelled an 18-month investigation into oilsands pollution in water and opted to destroy draft copies of their final report, Canwest News Service has learned. The aborted investigation comes as new questions are being raised about the Harper government's decision to exempt a primary toxic pollutant found in oilsands tailings ponds from a regulatory agenda. Naphthenic acids are one of the main pollutants responsible for the toxicity of tarsands tailings to aquatic organisms, and have been shown to harm liver, heart and brain function in mammals." So we ask: What about Canadian government propaganda and those who parrot such obvious propaganda without speaking "truth to power"? There is nothing like wilfully and cynically manipulating and controlling the flow of information in an 'open society' in order to further one's own interests and/or the interests of one's friends. We are witnessing in real time true 'thought control in democratic societies'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:07 p.m.  

  • His argument is that threatening to send someone to jail for breaking the law is coercion.

    It's been a while since I took PoliSci, but isn't the threat of sanction exactly what makes a measure coercive?

    By Anonymous Josh, at 9:24 p.m.  

  • My current theory is that this goes along with the Sun Media channel to try to undermine Canada. Here's how:

    Working from the scientific fact that reality has a well known liberal bias, that means the data in the census also has a liberal bias, since it is reality based.

    By limiting reality's hold on society through their effort to generate inaccurate/skewed/unreliable census data, COMBINED with Fox News North, they hope to confuse Canadians to the point that we vote them in in a majority parliament.

    Just a theory, that happens to fit the facts.

    By Blogger Disgruntled Liberal, at 9:38 a.m.  

  • Has anyone entertained the thought that maybe Clement is right, and the data can be corrected for this so called selection bias?

    I can't remember if income level or ethnic background or immigration status is on the short form. If those questions appear on the short form, then any selection bias that appears in the long form will be adjusted for, just like Clement says.

    By Blogger James McKenzie, at 6:48 p.m.  

  • "Feds Cancel Oil Sands Pollution Probe"

    See also: "Does The Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The Scientific Evidence.", Timoney and Lee, The Open Conservation Biology Journal, 2009, 3, 65-81.

    "In the crunch . . . the Ecosphere(Nature) ought to be valued above people on the basis of precedence in time, evolutionary creativity and diversity and the complexity of a higher level of organization. Conceivably, for example, present human population, expanded in size by technology, has become an active evil, exceeding the sustainable limit, overwhelming the planetary environment. The ultimate crimes against the environment, crimes that also threaten the human enterprise, are fecundity and exploitive economic growth, both encouraged by the homocentric philosophy." Stan Rowe

    "We elect weak, self-serving politicians who, together with their devious, self-serving senior bureaucrats, assiduously evade the 'crunch' issues of population and 'development' policies, and whose only allegiance is to their jobs."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:19 p.m.  

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