NOTE: in the time since the following was written, Parliament did pass an amendment to the Statistics Act. ONE PERSON, the Chief Statistician, can decide what personal data can be collected from citizens.
HOWEVER, the Statistics Act will ALWAYS be subservient to CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. Charter Rights are not Statutory Law. They are part of the higher level Constitutional Law.
This posting is the early (2011) exploration of the Law on Surveys.
Closely Related, the law on the Charter Right to Privacy of Personal Information: 2010-12-23 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 8 Privacy – Case Law: The Queen Vs Plant protects a “biographical core of personal information” from the state. Oakes Test to override.
UPDATE: 2016-07-01 StatsCan Website: Surveys are Mandatory, then Voluntary, then Mandatory. The Law still says that Surveys are voluntary. This Update, with the Timeline also contains the full argument – – what does the law say? A couple of points have been added to the main arguments presented earlier (below). Hopefully it is water-tight.
The effect of the StatsCan letter (reported on Reddit), accompanied by a change to their website to say “all surveys are voluntary”, meant that the legal action being brought against StatsCan by a citizen was stopped.
But maybe as late as June 2nd, 2016 (a couple months later) the website was changed back to say that some surveys are mandatory. See the above URL (StatsCan Website: Surveys are . . . ) Scroll down to the consolidated information about what the Law says.
ORIGIN – WHAT LED TO THESE POSTINGS ABOUT THE LAW ON CENSUSES AND SURVEYS?: the objections to the extensive data collection on Canadian citizens by Statistics Canada (comparable to the “Census Bureau” in the U.S.) BEGAN with the out-sourcing of StatsCan work to Lockheed Martin Corporation, with sub-contractor IBM.
The resistance started in 2003. Lockheed Martin is an integral part of the American war machine. Its practices (land mines, cluster munitions) are illegal and immoral. That was the genesis of the resistance against what StatsCan is doing. (Lockheed’s role of “contract interrogators” (torture) at off-shore American prisons is equally illegal and immoral but was largely unknown until 2015.)
The leaks by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald have confirmed what Canadian protestors understood: through “back door” entry, data bases are illegally accessed by the American “security” forces. Lockheed Martin works with the NSA. You have to be gullible to believe that the ever-more detailed information on individual Canadians in the StatsCan data base, after years of Lockheed Martin participation, is NOT accessible to the American surveillance machinery. To the original objections (illegal, immoral, expensive) is added “unconstitutional”. We have a Charter Right to Privacy of Personal Information. (Except in the Province of Saskatchewan – – the Sask Court of Appeal did not uphold the Charter Right.)
. . . but, back to the question of the Law on participation in StatsCan “Surveys” which, day-after-day, weekends included, add to the compilation of files on individual citizens:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
In addition to this posting, please see Are StatsCan “surveys” mandatory? which takes you to people’s experiences with StatsCan operating outside the law, using coercion, intimidation and harassment to force people to fill in “surveys”, providing personal information that is protected from “dissemination to the state” under the Charter Right to privacy of personal information.
UPDATE: there are also stories in the “Comments” at the bottom of this posting.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
ARE STATSCAN SURVEYS MANDATORY? INTERPRETATION OF THE LAW.
In order to understand the law, it is necessary to understand the difference between a “census” and a “survey”.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The law is that surveys are voluntary.
- The Statistics Act specifically exempts “surveys” from the sanctions that apply to censuses. (Censuses happen once every 5 years (2006, 2011, 2016 …). “Surveys” are on-going all the time, day-after-day data collection on citizens. The StatsCan data files contain the names of individuals, contrary to widespread belief.)
- The following thread provides the explanation for the voluntary nature of “surveys”, under the Law.
Keep in mind that, in the past, the majority of the data collection on citizens was done through censuses (the “long form” census), once every five years. Objections to the involvement of Lockheed Martin (American surveillance) in the data base at Statistics Canada led to protests and non-compliance – – at that time with the census. Things changed, the Government (Prime Minister Harper) went to a single “short form” census. The data formerly demanded through the long form census became the “National Household Survey”. There is also the Labour Force Survey, the Household Spending Survey, an Agricultural Survey – – I don’t know what other data collection. Surveys are on-going, not restricted to once every 5 years.
Now to the Law.
First, it is helpful to know what the Act of Parliament says about
THE SANCTIONS FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH A CENSUS (does not apply to “surveys”)
Section 31 of the Statistics Act, about censuses, reads:
False or unlawful information
31. Every person who, without lawful excuse, (INSERT: I also argue that the Charter Right to Privacy of personal information provides “lawful excuse” and lawyer Steve presented that argument to the Court.)
(a) refuses or neglects to answer, or wilfully answers falsely, any question requisite for obtaining any information sought in respect of the objects of this Act or pertinent thereto that has been asked of him by any person employed or deemed to be employed under this Act, or
(b) refuses or neglects to furnish any information or to fill in to the best of his knowledge and belief any schedule or form that the person has been required to fill in, and to return the same when and as required of him pursuant to this Act, or knowingly gives false or misleading information or practises any other deception thereunder
is, for every refusal or neglect, or false answer or deception, guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both. 1970-71-72, c. 15, s. 29.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
THE EMAIL THREAD
From: Sandra Finley Sent: January 20, 2011 5:09 PM
To: Lawyer Steve
Subject: Your reading on “surveys” – is different from mine ?
When I read Section 8 of Stats Act, I get a different outcome than you. Are we reading the same text? My interpretation goes thus:
1. Section 8 (appended) says that Statistics Canada can collect data in between censuses.
2. When that happens, it is not called a “Census”. It is called a “survey” and
3. where such information is requested, section 31 (jail time and a fine) “does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.”
Have I misinterpreted?
(APPENDED, from my blog):
DO YOU HAVE TO SUPPLY INFORMATION TO STATSCAN IN BETWEEN CENSUSES? NO
Section 8 of the Statistics Act:
” Voluntary surveys (Note that the TITLE of Section 8 is “Voluntary surveys”)
8. The Minister may, by order, authorize the obtaining, for a particular purpose, of information, other than information for a census of population or agriculture, on a voluntary basis, but where such information is requested section 31 (jail time and a fine) does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.”
= = = = = = = = = = == = = = = = =
Reply From: Lawyer Steve (refuted by the next input)
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2011 3:33 PM
To: ‘Sandra Finley’
Subject: RE: Your reading on “surveys” – is different from mine ?
You are correct, but there is an additional factor – taking out some of the language, the Minister has discretion to “authorize the obtaining of information…on a voluntary basis”. My reading is that the Minister has to authorize the “survey” to be voluntary.
From: Sandra Finley
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 10:38 PM
Subject: RE: Census Lockheed Martin Trial: R. v. Finley, verdict is “guilty”
Thanks very much Doug. I appreciate your input.
It is interesting to me that you and I seem to have taken the same meaning, but Steve interprets differently:
You stated thus: there may be no conflict between the Charter and the Stats Act because they’ve given everyone an out with respect to the penalties in Sec 31 (fine and/or jail) by stating in Sec 8 that s. 31 penalties don’t apply for anything but # of people and # of cows.
If there is an error in interpretation, where is it?
INPUT FROM DOUG:
RE: Your reading on the mandatory nature of “surveys” – is different from mine ?
sorry it took so long for me to get back to you, I lost this email… anyways, I think your lawyer is trying to say that the Minister may authorize the survey to be voluntary, and I believe Parliament’s intent was to state the Minister may authorize the survey itself, not that it be voluntary.
I believe the Minister is authorizing the OBTAINING OF INFORMATION, not the VOLUNTARINESS of it.
And I believe the reason is because the Minister doesn’t have the legislative authority to force someone to breach their own privacy rights… Parliament’s intent in drafting this was to say that… OKAY MR. MINISTER, WE’LL LET YOU AUTHORIZE A SURVEY FOR Statistics Canada to collect ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BUT IT HAS TO BE INHERENTLY VOLUNTARY BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FORCE SOMEONE TO PROVIDE THEIR PRIVATE INFORMATION OTHER THAN NUMBERS.
In other words, the MINISTER doesn’t have the legislative authority to choose whether to make a survey voluntary or mandatory… he just has the ability to authorize a survey. If he had the choice to make it mandatory, it would definitely be a charter breach, IMHO (in my humble opinion). And I’m sure that’s why they took the penalties out for extra information collected in surveys.
From the legislation:
” Voluntary surveys
8. The Minister may, by order, authorize the obtaining, for a particular purpose, of information, other than information for a census of population or agriculture, on a voluntary basis, but where such information is requested section 31 (the Sanctions) does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.”
– – – – — – – – –
THE DISCUSSION RESUMED IN SEPTEMBER 2011, STATSCAN IS DOING THE “LABOUR SURVEY”, USING COERCION:
EXCERPTS FROM “COMMENTS” POSTED ON Are StatsCan “surveys” mandatory?
From Angela: Stats Can’s website describes the Labour Force Survey as “mandatory”, which does seem to be a contravention of the Act — unless they have the power to re-define “voluntary” surveys as mandatory, at their leisure. . .
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
From Patti: I understand it as the labour survey is not a mandatory thing, even though they want to treat citizens as if it is.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Re your question: did I ever receive an answer to question regarding interpretation of Section 8 of the Statistics Act?
My Response is “No AND yes”. I look at it this way:
If I, the citizen, working with other reasonable and intelligent citizens, cannot read and interpret the law, especially one as simple as the Statistics Act, then the law is not serving us.
WHO is the law for? It is a vehicle for defining the relationships among ourselves and the government, so that we can live harmoniously. It is a dispute resolution mechanism (even if it is poorly designed, is being used by the Government and by Corporations as a tool for intimidation and coercion. It is in obvious need of overhaul. The Chief Justice of Canada has been imploring the legal profession for years to address the problems. They seem unable to deliver the goods to her (for the public).)
Did I receive an answer to my question on Section 8 of the Stats Act? .. . Yes. We figured it out ourselves. Doug’s input was elucidating. And now you capture the essence way better than I have: “unless they have the power to re-define “voluntary” surveys as mandatory, at their leisure”.
– – – – – – – – –
I tried high-lighting the differences in interpretation (appended). Then I stripped away all the other words. Leaving only this high-lighted text:
(The Minister may, by order:)
Steve: authorize the obtaining of information on a voluntary basis (It helps – – you can see how Steve might have arrived at his conclusion. He is saying that this paragraph of the Act says that in order for a survey to be voluntary, the Minister has to authorize it to be voluntary.)
Doug: authorize the obtaining of information other than information for a census of population or agriculture,
I still arrive at the conclusion that Steve was in a hurry and made a mistake.
Doug’s interpretation and elaboration makes sense.
The argument is reinforced by the TITLE of the paragraph: VOLUNTARY Surveys.
I did not understand why legislation would need the clause “on a voluntary basis” when it is specified “section 31 (jail time and a fine) does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.”
WHICHEVER WAY YOU COME AT IT, I think it comes down to the one thing:
“where such information is requested section 31 (jail time and a fine) does not apply in respect of a refusal or neglect to furnish the information.”
IF ANYTHING, “on a voluntary basis” serves to reinforce the message that section 31, the sanctions, do not apply in the case of surveys.
Which means that Statistics Canada is acting outside the law, telling people that they have to supply the information and if they don’t they can be fined and/or go to jail.
I am in complete agreement with your statement: “I understand it as the labour survey is not a mandatory thing, even though they want to treat citizens as if it is.”
P.S. I think it is all irrelevant anyway because of the Charter Right to privacy of personal information in all provinces except Saskatchewan – the outcome of the appeal process in my trial.
Statistics Canada needs to be taken to Court for intimidation, coercion and harassment.
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Recommend: The most recent posting re Are Surveys Mandatory? 2014-05-26 More concise argument? (conversation with JoAnne)