R5: Harper Killed the Census

I’m posting on the reasons I won’t vote for Stephen Harper and his party:

As a statistician, a geographer and a demographer, one of the reasons I’m particularly disturbed with Stephen Harper’s reign is that under his watch he destroyed the Canadian census. In 2010 I attended a rally at Queen’s Park to try to save the long form, but to no avail. I explained the situation in another post (Bowles, 2010): but in spite of our best efforts, the Canadian census remains stripped. Every industrialized country in the world has a census so that they know their populations: Harper claims to know more than demographers by saying that the long form is unnecessary. After a 100 years of detailed examination of the population by the census, Harper thinks it’s enough to simply conduct private surveys and polls.

What has been the effect of the loss of the long form? Since it is no longer mandatory, the decline in response rates have seriously compromised the data and made Statistics Canada lower its standards (National Post, 2015) Many projects that rely on that data, from business to science to health, must try to limp by without access to quality data (Global News, 2015). Some would argue that it has similarly weakened even the jobs data available to investors (Macleans, 2015). Much though the data is now free from Statistics Canada, they are not worth as much as they used to be.

Now, five years later, we’ve lost the information about ourselves and it can never be recovered. The quality of trending analysis for the country is gone. Even if he is known for nothing else in Canadian history, Stephen Harper will be known as the Father of the Hole in the Canadian Census.

Why did Harper destroy the census? Because the more you study demographics, the more you understand that although there are stereotypes… there are certainly common perceptions of groups of people… although those stereotypes exist, there are always exceptions: and, in fact, more exceptions than there are stereotypes. Mr. Harper wants to avoid this conclusion. He wants us all to fit in our neat little boxes, and he wants to legislate that way. It’s easy and predictable. Unfortunately, doing so is also lazy, inaccurate and unethical. The census helps us to know our countrymen: Harper is fine with his generalizations.

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3 Responses to R5: Harper Killed the Census

  1. Pingback: R9: Privacy | The Geographer's Corner

  2. Pingback: R7: Open Data | The Geographer's Corner

  3. Pingback: Anyone But Harper | The Geographer's Corner

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