While I can’t help but sense a tinge of hyperbole in Paul Martin’s words regarding Harper’s government’s decision to drop our mandatory long-form census, I also tend to agree with the sentiment behind them.
“This is not the way to run a democracy,” Martin told reporters on Sunday, when he and Duncan appeared at a rally in his hometown of Windsor with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
Martin says he sees the census decision as part of Stephen Harper’s larger attempt to clamp down on information and free discussion among Canadians.
“I think it’s quite conceivable that what we’re dealing with is a government that essentially wants to control the information flow,” he said.
Martin said that in all his years as finance minister, the long-form census data was crucial during his consultations with municipalities and a whole host of medical, hospital and non-governmental organizations.
As well, he said that Canada’s ability to collect and make policy surrounding census data was an object of international admiration.
I am, as I hope you’ve figured out by now, decidedly on the side of collecting as much information as possible for the purposes of finding our way through the world — whether scientific, political or economic. Nothing has ever been gained by humanity (but much has been gained by tin-pot dictators) by intentionally going out of our way to reduce the amount of information available with which to make informed decisions. Eliminating the long-form census is a good way to throw sand in the eyes of people who make decisions about budgets, and the people who put certain political parties into power.
While I feel Martin’s words are hyperbolic, I still wouldn’t put it past Harper’s government to be doing this cynically, as a way of ensuring that people are not provided with the information to know that their budgetary plans are not in everyone’s best interests. I’ve seen that sort of dirty pool one too many times from conservatives south of our border, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly the sort of nonsense going on here.