Jul 242010

This may poke a big hole in your faith in the media.

Because of the controversey over the Canadian Government’s recent announcement that the  census long form will be voluntary and the connection to my trial, I was contacted and interviewed by various media.  Ian Austen, the New York Times reporter in Ottawa, was one of them.  I followed up by sending Ian the information on Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the Canadian census, including the protests against it.  See the article resulting from the interview,  as printed in the NY Times – –  item #2 below which says:

In 2006 a small number of people refused to fill out census forms. But they were protesting the use of an American technology contractor.

The New York Times  and their readership would surely know the name of Lockheed Martin Corporation very well.   Better than Canadians, one would think.   There is no excuse for their failure to be specific.  This is misleading journalism.

Hey!  A prize to the first person who is able to break the media barrier!  I can’t seem to crack it.   I have done good interviews with national TV and print media, speaking to:

1. Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the census.

2.   The Charter Right to Privacy.

To-date, nothing has come of the interviews.

The census would not be in the media today, except for the contracting-out to Lockheed Martin that started the resistance seven years ago.  But not a word about Lockheed Martin’s role.

The reporting by the New York Times tells me  . . . I better get this email out fast and we need to try letters-to-editors of local newspapers, more facebook, more.   More kicking butt!






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CBC TV News.  A week ago Wednesday.  Interviewer Margo McDermaid on speakerphone from Ottawa.  Local CBC camera man came to my house.  I believe Margo was pleased with the results.  The camera man was certainly complimentary and appreciative.  (Not that I look for that – I am saying that there was nothing wrong with the content.)  Margo told me that she expected it would be on CBC Radio that same evening and it would be on TV News the next day, or maybe in the next couple of days.  She would send an email to let me know when.  “When” didn’t happen.

I phoned Margo at the beginning of this past week to see if “the chronology” of events would be of any use.  She was leaving for Germany, said “yes” and to send the information to Sara Brunetti at the CBC.  Sara was the central person on this, knows all the background.  Margo said that the Government was going to do public meetings to explain their decision around the census long form.  The CBC was thinking they might hold off and put the Lockheed/Charter Right to Privacy interview material in with the Government’s announcement of the public meetings.   I am thinking that maybe the resignation of the Chief Statistician threw a spanner into the timing of the intended public meetings -they didn’t happen.  And so the Lockheed Martin/Charter Right goes unaddressed, at least through the CBC.

Although it doesn’t explain why CBC Radio is not addressing it, at least not to my knowledge.  Thanks so much:  some people have provided feedback to the media and to others, as they have heard the issues go un-addressed.  Maybe if there is enough feedback they will do something.

I sent an email to “The Current” after hearing an interview that didn’t deal with the central issues (census – – what about Lockheed Martin’s role?).  But as I say, I can’t seem to crack the barrier.   I tried “ultra short” communications; not even that worked!

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Globe & Mail:  Beginning of this week past.  Reporter Adrian Morrow called and did an interview of some length.  Friday (yesterday) he called before noon to arrange a follow-up interview.  Would it be okay to do “questions and answers”?  I said Fine – the interview was set for 2:00 pm.  Adrian called at 2:00, the interview was off.  The Globe is planning to do a special on the census.  … As far as I know, nothing ever came of this either.  It seems that the media doesn’t want to discuss Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the census?

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I was interviewed by Ian Austen, the New York Times.  I followed up by sending him the information on Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the Canadian census, including the protests against it.    The interview and the information sent to Ian got reduced to:  “In 2006 a small number of people refused to fill out census forms. But they were protesting the use of an American technology contractor.


Intense Debate in Canada Over Longer Census

Published: July 23, 2010

OTTAWA — In their fleeting summers, Canadians tend to prefer lakes and beer over political discussions. But a government decision to change Canada’s census law has started a heated debate and led to the resignation of the country’s chief statistician on Wednesday night.


·        Document: Resignation Letter of Munir Sheikh, Chief Statistician of Canada

The resignation of Munir Sheikh, who led Statistics Canada, was preceded by protests across the country’s ideological spectrum, including many who usually share the Conservative government’s views. If anything, his departure appears to have increased calls for the government to reverse its position on making a longer census form voluntary.

Next week, a House of Commons committee will hold special hearings on Parliament Hill, a place normally abandoned to tourists during July.

The government’s decision was not just unexpected, but it was also made without notice and in the absence of any obvious outcry against the census’ being excessively nosy. That has left many wondering why the government brought this on itself.

“I’ve had a lot of difficulty figuring it out,” said Roger Gibbins, the president and chief executive of the Canada West Foundation, a policy group with generally right-of-center views. “I live in a hard-core Conservative constituency in the heart of Calgary. There are probably more people worried about flying saucers’ landing in their backyard than there are worried about the long-form census.”

All Canadians are required to fill out a short census form every five years. Since 1971, a mandatory longer form has also been mailed to about 20 percent of households. That form for 2006 ran 40 pages long.

The government decided last month that completing the long form would be voluntary during next year’s census. To make up for the anticipated decline in responses, it will mail the long form to about 30 percent of households, a concept that some cabinet ministers later suggested was endorsed by Statistics Canada.

Once the change was finally noticed, economists, statisticians, local governments and many corporations swiftly asked the government to abandon it.

With few exceptions, they argued that a voluntary census response would create a skewed statistical portrait of the country. Evidence, much of it from the United States, shows that members of many groups — including the very poor and the very wealthy — do not fill out census forms unless compelled by law. The protesters also rejected the claim that mailing out more copies would overcome statistical deficiencies.

The federal government relies on census data to transfer money to Canada’s provinces each year for many programs, including health care. Its results are also used widely by the private sector.

Federal politicians were initially slow to explain the reasons for the change. But over the past week, Tony Clement, the industry minister, said that the government was responding to privacy and coercion complaints.

“We do not believe Canadians should be forced, under threat of fines, jail, or both, to disclose extensive private and personal information,” Mr. Clement said in a statement.

The Canadian news media have had little success in finding many people with such concerns. In 2006 a small number of people refused to fill out census forms. But they were protesting the use of an American technology contractor.

But Maxime Bernier, a prominent Conservative member of Parliament from Quebec, told The Toronto Star that his office received about 1,000 complaints via e-mail a day about the census in 2006. He subsequently said those e-mail messages were deleted long ago.

Canada’s privacy commissioner received two complaints about the 2006 census, a spokeswoman said.

Kenneth Prewitt, the former director of the United States Census Bureau who is now a professor at Columbia University, said that the Canadian government had the power to make its long census form voluntary, even if the idea was not sound. But he was critical of Mr. Clement for suggesting that Statistics Canada finds the idea acceptable from a sampling standpoint.

“I wouldn’t call this political interference,” Professor Prewitt said. “I would call this government stupidity.”

Mr. Sheikh was more circumspect in a resignation statement, which appeared briefly on the Statistics Canada Web site.

“I want to take this opportunity to comment on a technical statistical issue which has become the subject of media discussion,” he wrote. “This relates to the question of whether a voluntary survey can become a substitute for a mandatory census. It cannot.”

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