Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Getting Harder to Recognize This Country Called Canada

Blogger Montreal Simon wrote a great piece in response to James Traver's column on our disappearing country. And he asks the question: "How could something so ugly happen in such a beautiful place?" It boggles the mind.

That's a question that is being asked by a lot of people these days.

Lawrence Scanlon wrote in the Ottawa Citizen recently: A less proud country. Apathetic Canadians have allowed their government to trample freedoms -- but opposition is mounting.

Opposition is mounting indeed, but unless we start believing that we have the power to change it, it will all be for not. Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper, believe we have that power. We just have to block out the media nonsense that there is no alternative to Stephen Harper, when there very much is.

This government's latest decision to tie the hands of StatsCan is about eliminating reports that question their decisions. If Canadians are kept in the dark, they will believe that Harper is doing a good job. Facts and statistics just get in his way.

Donald Gutenstein hit the nail on the head when he blames the Fraser Institute:

To understand the brouhaha surrounding the long census, look not to Stephen Harper, but to the libertarian Fraser Institute and its long-term agenda to get government out of every activity except to protect the market, including the market for statistics. The Fraser has been Harper's most vociferous ally outside government in attacking the long census form. Within government, Maxime Bernier leads the cheerleading. Before Bernier went into politics, he was vice-president at the libertarian Montreal Economic Institute, the Fraser's sister organization in Quebec.

Think mid-term exam when you ask why the Harper government is scrapping the long census form. Harper is simply testing the waters to determine how far the project to remake Canada into a more conservative society has proceeded.

Linda McQuaig also notes that it will make the poor invisible.

The poor rarely get such sympathetic attention; indeed they rarely get much attention at all. And they're soon to get even less. That is the real reason for the Harper government's decision to scrap the long-form census matters, and why the debate over it is more than a bizarre obsession with statistics in this overheated summer.

As a number of experts have noted, the decision to replace the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary abbreviated survey will result in less reliable data collection, particularly from the poor and marginalized. So, as income becomes ever more concentrated at the top, as it has in recent years, we'll know less and less about those at the bottom, making them easier to ignore.

Michael Ignatieff wrote the same thing in his 2000:

What about the economic insecurity of our poorest fellow citizens? Why can't our politics address this? It can't be because everyone has shared the fruits of our recent economic boom. It can't be because the poor don't exist. It must be because they have become invisible. (The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, Pg. 20)

We need to keep this mandatory census and get rid of the Harper government. There is no other solution.

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