University of Toronto
2 min

Harper can’t even get his census remarks right

Apparently Stephen Harper doesn’t even know what’s going on with the census issue. At least, that’s what one would conclude from his remarks yesterday when asked about it.

“Just to be clear on how this will proceed, all Canadians will get a short-form census. A slight number of households will also get a long-form census. I know (for) some people, this has some detailed personal information that is being sought by the government. I know some Canadians will have some reluctance to provide that and I know some people think the appropriate way to deal with that is through prosecuting those individuals with fines and jail terms. This government will not do that. In this day and age, that is not the appropriate way to get the public's co-operation. So, we will work with the public to get their co-operation on providing that information.”

Um, no – that’s not it at all. There will no longer be a long-form census, but rather a voluntary national household survey. It will not be sent to a slight number of households, but rather a third of them. And if you’re concerned about the coercive nature of the census, then why are those same coercive methods used for the short form? But oh, wait – you’re simply looking to make it unusable so that your ideology can’t be corrected by facts. But still – get your talking points right!

(Note: Before boarding the Liberal Express to Pembroke yesterday, Michael Ignatieff held a media scrum and answered some questions on other issues in the news, which will be interjected throughout.)

More than 500 people blockaded the Kingston prison farm over the weekend to prevent its dairy herd from being auctioned off, which would kill the prison farm for good. Police arrested 10 of the protestors, including a woman in her 80s. Ignatieff scrum reply – that this was a passionate issue for him, and he is very supportive of prison farms because the underlying premise is that people can change.

While the Parliamentary budget officer’s report talks about how stimulus spending has been plagued by delays, Jim Flaherty says that the cut-off date is set in stone. Ignatieff scrum reply – how do we know what the economy is going to look like in March 2011? Are they consulting a Ouija board to know? (My sarcastic retort – maybe not a Ouija board, but Harper does have a psychic stylist.)

Maclean’s Colby Cosh looks at the absurdities of the new organized crime regulatory changes the Conservatives pushed through last week.

NDP veterans’ affairs critic Peter Stoffer is raising the alarm about potential cuts to the department. I spoke to Liberal critic Rob Oliphant on the issue weeks ago.

That story from the official media arm of The Party on some courses paid for the Auditor General’s staff? The Liberals say that it’s the Conservatives trying to undermine her credibility before some of her really damaging reports come out. And they’re probably right.

For those of you keeping score, Omar Khadr’s military show trial is getting underway after the judge ruled that the confessions he made after threats of being raped were deemed a-okay. Because it’s going to be a fair trial, don’t you know?

Up today – the Public Safety Committee is being recalled to study the urgent issue of veiled travellers. Because that’s a better use of that committee’s time, instead of, say, the transport committee, whose job includes air travel regulations.
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