2 min

Tony Clement’s trainwreck

It’s kind of like watching a slow-motion train wreck. It’s horrifying and fascinating all at the same time, and you know the carnage is going to be bad. But in this particular case, there’s just something about watching the squirming.

I’m referring of course to Industry minister Tony Clement. First thing yesterday morning, he put out a release about his decision to abolish the mandatory long-form census, and it was full of half-truths, red herrings, misdirection, scaremongering, and a straw man or two – and once again, zero understanding of the most basic statistical principle of selection bias. Listening to Clement (and Baird, Lake, LeBreton, et al.) try and defend the decision is becoming laughable because, quite simply, they can’t. It becomes a mass of the aforementioned half-truths, red herrings, and so on.

Example – John Baird and Marjory LeBreton saying that it’s too much to ask how many rooms are in houses. Err, except that is vital data for a lot of groups. Or waving the straw man of threats of jailing people if they don’t complete it when hey – no one has gone to jail over it. They bring up the issue of it being a supposed invasion of privacy. Except the Privacy Commissioner says she got all of three complaints in the last two editions of the census – one of which was dealt with without an investigation, another that was found not to be in breach of the Act. In fact, Statistics Canada works closely with her office to ensure that privacy is protected. Oh, and Tony Clement didn’t consult her before axing the mandatory long-form.

The Liberals sent out their industry critic, Marc Garneau, to say that he wants the industry committee to hold a summer meeting over the census issue. Which is all well and good, but there is apparently no explaining to Clement. Hell, even the usual Conservative apologists are saying they don’t understand this particular cock-up. It’s even going to cost the government more to take this route than continuing the mandatory long-form. But hey – ideology apparently must win out, come hell or high water.

(For a little more, the CBC’s Dave McKie takes a closer look at some of the issues involved).

The panel of eminent jurist arbiters has been named with regards to the MPs looking over those Afghan detainee documents, and the NDP is not impressed. That said, at a press conference this afternoon, it appears that some journalists rattled Malcolm Allen at a press conference where he tried to denounce Iacobucci, even though his government contract has been terminated.

The justice department recants on contradicting Rona Ambrose about her “honour killings” comments – kind of. Apparently her comments were “consistent with their approach,” but won’t say whether or not they were planning on making them a separate offence. So…is that a contradiction or not? Meanwhile, Muslim women’s groups say that it shouldn’t be a separate category as it makes it exotic, alien, and a possible justification. Murder is murder they say, which should have been the point Ambrose should have made in the first place.

And finally, on his Liberal Express tour, it seems that Ignatieff was being schooled by people asking questions about specific legislation. But hey, that’s why he’s doing these unscripted meetings. And like he will be the first to remind you, Stephen Harper would never allow that to happen.

Up today – the Liberal Express is off to Cobourg, Pickering, and Markham.
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