United Kingdom Census
2 min

Not quite a Jedi mind-trick

Misdirection – the only word applicable to the Conservatives’ attempt to use the fact that 21,000 people put “Jedi Knight” down as their religion in the last census.

“You call this accurate data!” they scoff whenever someone tries to point out that a voluntary long-form will provide statistically unreliable data due to this little thing called selection bias.

Never mind that the Jedi census phenomenon is a documented grassroots movement that is either a massive practical joke or a means of protest for the inclusion of religion on the census. No, it’s far more fun to poke fun at it, err, except for the actual organized quasi-religious groups that call themselves Jedi based on the Daoist origins of George Lucas’s creation.

But it’s misdirection all the same. As Senator Elaine McCoy (who is made of awesome) points out, Harper’s own ministers bragged about the value of the census, before they were against them. She adds:

Of course, killing the census is simply another example of Mr Harper’s proclivity to refuse to engage in evidence-based policy-making, informed legislation or even ministerial input. After all, who needs facts when you have ideology? And who needs ministers when you have autocracy?

And she’s right. This boils down to laying the groundwork for the eventual dismantling of social programs. It has nothing to do with privacy or government coercion. After all, there is no actual justification for destroying statistical reliability, increasing the cost of the census by some $30 million by making the long-form voluntary, or following the failed American policy of attempting to make it voluntary (which it abandoned after a failed test). And as much as Maxime Bernier says that if Quebeckers want French to be counted they need to be vigilant about filling out their forms, it doesn’t work that way, statistically speaking. It’s indefensible. Period.

Oh, and if you want to see just how invasive the 2006 form was, The Globe and Mail posts a copy here. And really – none of it is really that invasive or onerous.

Harper, meanwhile, was in Moncton to open the world junior track and field championship. My guess – he’s trying to recapture that Olympic high of posing with medal winners.

It looks like Elizabeth May has a potential leadership challenger – assuming the party goes to a leadership review, which it is currently not planning on.

And Susan Delacourt writes about her week on the Liberal Express, watching Michael Ignatieff try to re-engage with the party’s grassroots.
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