International relations
4 min

Just the undermining of good governance – nothing to see here!

It seems that the government has axed the mandatory long-form census and will instead replace it with a voluntary “national household survey.” Now, sure, the long form was unpopular with some because of the detailed personal questions it asked, but it did serve a purpose. But in axing this long-form, the Conservatives are insidiously undermining the quality of data that Statistics Canada can collect. From the Canadian Press article, where they spoke to several employees on the basis of anonymity:

Employees were told a little over a year ago that there would be less emphasis on analysis. A highly praised survey on immigrants to Canada, for example, has been axed. Other analytical jobs, in areas such as business and trade statistics and the aging population, have been eliminated.

One should immediately see the pattern taking shape here – analysis is used to make policy. Sound policy based on empirical data. And just what does this government prefer to use instead of sound policy based on solid data? Ideology. And it’s so much easier to use ideology when you can use made-up numbers collected by evangelical Christian organizations like Institute for Marriage and the Family, or the likes, rather than by solid, scientifically gathered quality data by Statistics Canada. Or better yet, they can claim ignorance of the facts because they’ve killed the collection of them. By making it a voluntary form, they’re already skewing the results.

This is one more move that should concern everyone about the direction of this government. It’s undermining the civil service and the basis by which good policies and good advice to government happens so that it can be replaced by ideology – and the alarm should be raised.

Similarly, the Conservatives, at the very last minute of the session, introduced a “technical amendment” to the Aeronautics Act that would essentially strip away the country’s sovereignty by allowing the Americans to say who can get on our own planes and who can’t if the planes fly over the US to get to a third country. But hey, just a “technical amendment,” everyone! Nothing to see here!

The Queen conducted an international naval review in Halifax yesterday. Prince Phillip wore Canadian Naval Uniform for the first time, wearing the rank of admiral. The Prince, of course, served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Naturally, people are already asking how much Her Majesty’s visit is going to cost. They haven’t released figures yet, but we can be pretty much assured it will be far less than either a G8 or G20 summit, or even a five-hour visit by President Obama.

In the Senate, (and yes, Globe and Mail – the Senate is still sitting. Nice of you to have finally noticed), the day began with Senator Callbeck remarking about tourism in PEI, Senator Fortin-Duplessis spoke about the G20 commitment to engaging with China, Senator Runciman spoke about the Canada 55-Plus Games, while Senator Eggleton spoke up to denounce the lockdown of Toronto during the G8 and G20 and the terrible consequences that resulted. This was followed by Senator Carignan speaking about the petition he would soon table to extend EI to people suffering from illnesses like cancer, and Senator DiNino speaking about interred Jewish refugees during the Second World War, and the terrible anti-Semitism they faced.

Senate Question Period was kicked off by Senator Callbeck asking after funding cuts to Katimavik, to which Senator LeBreton responded that they received stable multi-year funding, which is what they asked for. Callbeck asked why their funding was being cut nevertheless, but LeBreton wouldn’t veer from her talking point. (Incidentally, her portfolio of colour-coded talking points is a pretty interesting sight to behold).

Senator Losier-Cool asked about the reports from the American Senate about how only two percent of aid to Haiti is actually flowing due to a lack of leadership. LeBreton said that she would ask Bev Oda about that. Senator Peterson asked for an update on aid for Saskatchewan farmers being flooded out (LeBreton: still waiting for a response from the minister), and Senator Tardif asked why there were no translation services available during the foreign leaders’ press conferences after the G8 and G20. LeBreton made a slam against the CBC before saying she’d look into it. And Senator Fraser closed off by asking about a remark made by the head of the National Parole Board during the hearings on C-23A (the pardons bill), where he indicated government policy would be to get full cost recovery for pardons. Currently, people applying pay a $50 fee, but this would boost that to somewhere between $250 to $500. Senator LeBreton, in the process of saying she’d look into it, implied that people should simply save up (never mind that Senator Fraser implied that many of the people who would be applying would be on the lower end of the social scale, possibly on social assistance, and needed pardons in order to get certain kinds of jobs), and perhaps they should have thought of that before they committed crimes. Compassionate conservatism, everyone!

Sartorially speaking, snaps go to Senator Tardif for her moss green jacket with the three-quarter sleeves, and Senator Ringuette for her white suit with black pinstripes and the black top beneath. Also, Senator Dawson was wearing one of his signature bowties, and as we all know, bowties are cool. Less impressive were Senator Cochrane’s dull mustard-yellow jacket, and I was rather concerned by the sight of Senator Lapointe, who was wearing a white headband with a red spot at the forehead.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee completed their review of the National DNA Data Bank. Also, Bill C-11 on reforming the refugee system has passed third reading and is ready for Royal Assent. My story on the final passage will be on xtra.ca later today.

Over on the Commons side, Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland has questions for Vic Toews on the G8/G20 protests – and it could mean summer sessions for the Public Safety committee. But wait – they’re already holding hearings starting Monday, to meet with the head of CSIS over those allegations on foreign agents influencing provincial cabinet ministers. Holland says he wants to clarify just which version of the story is correct. (I would also expect something about those alleged Russian spies in the US using falsified Canadian documents to come up as well.)

Really, NDP comms? “Why do Conservatives hate weddings?” as an anti-HST release? Seriously?

Up today – Her Majesty arrives in Ottawa, where she will rededicate the Museum of Nature (where the new Lantern feature will be known as the Queen’s Lantern) and unveil a statue of Oscar Peterson at the National Arts Centre. Her arrival at the Museum will be at 12:25 and the statue unveiling at 13:15.
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