Count me out on (pointless) census day
Let me be clear: I’m not advocating civil disobedience. But I will not associate my name to the 2011 census fiasco. After senselessly disfiguring the mother of all data in Canada, our minister responsible for Statistics Canada is now reminding me to fill out a largely meaningless, yet mandatory, short-form questionnaire, while leaving it up to me to either complete the national household survey questionnaire or use it to get a nice camp fire going this summer. Apparently, it’s completely up to me and it’s all good, and it’s all cool. But I won’t do it.
Green Day said it best in its American Idiot hit song: “Welcome to a new kind of tension … where everything isn’t meant to be OK.” Nothing is OK with the 2011 census. It will be the most expensive process (more than $600 million or the equivalent of two federal elections) to produce numbers barely worth anything more than a poll conducted on how we felt about the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Remember those stats? Probably not. We’ve moved on.
The census is dead, evidencebased decision-making is ridiculed, and we may as well start teaching that Adam and Eve just popped up one day. The rule of law, a pillar of democracy, requires citizens to understand and respect the law of the land. I’m all for it. But it also requires governments to act responsibly, fairly, and transparently. On the census issue, the government has misled Canadians and, in fact, has lied about the nature of the data being gathered.
If the government can lie to me about the census, I have every right to exclude myself from this sad parody. And I will.
François Dumaine, Past-president of the Canadian Evaluation Society, Ottawa
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