3 min

More red herrings, half-truths and straw men

The long-form census issue is becoming crazier the longer it drags on. First Tony Clement says that no matter how many experts complain, he won’t back down. Then Maxime Bernier says that the industry committee should be recalled immediately so they can explain everything and get their side of the story out. Um, right – because apparently you can somehow explain away scientific methodology and selection bias in committee.

But it’s already too cute by half. The wording of the motion to recall the committee is to “examine the urgent public issue created by the Ignatieff Liberals’ threat to prosecute and jail law-abiding Canadians who do not wish to participate” in the long census questionnaire. Seriously? Add to that this email sent out on Sunday afternoon by the prime minister’s spokesman:

21,000 Canadians registered Jedi knight as a religion in the 2001 census.
Religion is asked every 10 years.
We made the 40-page long form voluntary because government should not threaten prosecution or jail time to force Canadians to divulge unnecessary private and personal information.
Canadians don't want the government at their doorstep at 10 o'clock at night while they may be doing something in their bedroom, like reading, because government wants to know how many bedrooms they have.
The Ignatieff Liberals promise to force all Canadians to answer personal and intrusive questions about their private lives under threat of jail, fine, or both.

Which is, of course, almost entirely bullshit. No census-taker is going to show up at 10pm and threaten prosecution. And so a bunch of mischief-makers mark themselves as “Jedi Knights” because they feel religion is a silly question. Pretty much every student council election on every university campus in this country has some joker who says he wants to put in a “Master of Jedi Studies” program – does that mean we should therefore cancel all student elections?

This is nothing more than an attempt at playing to a populist base through use of red herrings, misdirection and a collection of straw men, and much of it is predicated on half-truths and outright falsehoods. Falsehoods like claiming that Statistics Canada themselves came up with this voluntary system for them, which The Canadian Press discovered was completely untrue. They’re claiming this is about privacy (untrue), government interference (playing the “no big government card” when they’ve increased government spending dramatically, and oh yeah, this new voluntary survey will cost $30 million more), and likened the Liberals to totalitarians. Seriously?

Apparently we must all be fools, then, if they think this kind of nonsense is going to replace the fact that they have yet to come up with a reasonable explanation that is truthful, scientifically sound and not an exercise in bafflegab. But oh, wait – ideology trumps evidence with this government. How silly of me to have forgotten.

Meanwhile, it seems that the government is signalling plans to hire fewer IRB members to handle immigration and refugee cases as it goes forward with reforming the system. You know, so that they can break it again, like they did the last time they didn’t hire enough members and created a huge backlog (which they then used to justify the need for reforms).

The government is making changes to the Canadian Tourism Commission, including closing the offices in Australia, France and Germany – you know, countries with stronger economies where the people may be more willing to travel.

With the International AIDS Conference now underway in Vienna, the Toronto Star takes a look at some of the successes and failures since the 2006 conference in Toronto. Meanwhile, Dr Julio Montaner’s research is showing that treatment-as-prevention is helping to slow the transmission of HIV.

And finally, Cheech and Chong want Harper to “wise up” on pot laws. Not that he’s likely to listen, given his plans to push ahead with his mandatory minimum sentences bill.
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