Quick Hits: The Cat and the Census Wars: Two Totally Unrelated Topics

I. My Adopted Kitty

As a favour to a friend, I am now the current temporary owner of a big black tom cat. A big black tom cat that never wants to let me sleep again. Ever. Said kitty likes to yowl starting at about four in the morning. He doesn’t want food (he has it), water (has that too), or even attention. He just wants my partner and I to be awake so he can talk to us because his favourite thing in the world is talking. And by talking, I mean yowling. Hence, my goal of getting out a post a day for a week got derailed due to severe kitty induced sleep deprivation. We’ve now engaged in a seemingly endless war of annoyance. He wakes me up and paws at my head; I squirt him with a spray bottle or forcefully cuddle him. Someone has to break soon! (And it will probably be me) In any case, enjoy a photo of an adorably cranky kitty that is wrapped up in a blanket.

II. Census 2011: Today’s Events and What they Mean for Canada

My last post about was about the Canadian census and my comments still stand. Thus far Statistics Canada has come out saying that the Conservative government twisted their words and that they never claimed that a voluntary long-form census could be an acceptable replacement for the mandatory long-form census. They counselled against such a change, however, we all know how well that turned out. Earlier this evening, the head statistician, Munir Sheikh, resigned. This was a statement to the effect that he felt that he could no longer carry out his duties in light of the current changes.

The Globe and Mail released a rather good article on ten ways the changing of the census can affect the average Canadian. From public transport to hospitals to housing developments, the reformatting of the census will damage the information decisions about countless endeavours in Canada are based upon. Sheikh knew this, so did the other top statisticians and researchers in the country. Our government did not listen.

However, what I fear the most is not the dearth of accurate information Canada will suddenly have on all manner of issues, even though I myself am a researcher. I fear that this is yet another example of Conservative bullying tactics which are slowly eating away at Canadian government. For the past several years, the Conservatives have been unilaterally pushing through legislation and major policy changes in Parliament. From crime bills to environmental regulations, the census and much much more, once the government has decided upon a course of action, it goes forth, regardless of what effects their choices may have on the country. Even if experts and Canadians rise up in anger, the Conservatives shove their decisions forward, threatening elections and deriding the anti-democratic House or the anti-Democratic Senate as the enemies of the nation and obstacles in the way of good governance. Evidence does not matter. Popular opinion does not matter. All that does matter is that their decisions and plans are followed through with. Getting rid of an effective census will help them continue with this behaviour. It means that their decisions can no longer be held to a set of non-biased national information. This move will delegitimise statistics and evidence-based research overall. It is a bad move for Canada and for the effectiveness of our governments at all levels of the nation, most of which have not even had a voice in this decision. The mandatory long-form census must remain intact and Canadians need to use their voices to announce that they will not put up with this type of bullying governance any longer.