Candidate wants the long form census brought back - thinks getting rid of it was a dumb idea.

opinionandcommentBy Karina Gould

February 4, 2015


Every baker knows that making a cake is easy and predictable so long as you follow the recipe. It took me a number of years while growing up to figure this out. One day, however, when I was away at school, I decided to bake banana bread by the book. I precisely measured each ingredient in the recipe and voila – perfect banana bread.

Gould - direct serious look

Karina Gould is a very direct person – little doubt what she thinks on a subject. Public will get to know her better when the federal election campaign begins in the Spring

Now you may wonder why I’m telling you about my baking habits in a piece about the long-form census. Good question. Here’s my question to you: Could you imagine making banana bread with only 68.6% of the ingredients? You could argue that you’ll just make 68.6% of the recipe, right? Fair point. So how about we completely change the recipe and give you 68.6% of the total ingredients, but don’t give you proportional quantities to the recipe. You’ll take something out of the oven, but it certainly won’t be banana bread and it will be very hard to compare to your previous banana breads for which you followed the recipe.

That’s the issue with the abandonment of the long-form census: the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) had a response rate of 68.6% and changed the questions asked; neither are we getting all of the ingredients or the right proportions when it comes to one of the most fundamental aspects of a well-governed country: understanding our societal make-up.

Recently, I spoke with the director of a local community development organization. The first issue she brought to my attention was the long-form census. “We don’t know who we are as a country anymore,” she lamented, “we can’t tell who needs services in our communities and whether those services are adequate.” Shortly thereafter I spoke with a high-ranking businesswoman, “I can’t identify potential clients because I have no idea what the current market make-up is.” The NHS results weren’t worth a penny she explained.

The elimination of the long-form census has had a significant impact on our country’s ability to make and plan good policies for the future. This isn’t an issue that impacts one particular segment of our society. This is pan-Canadian. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Medical Association and numerous other organizations have endorsed a return to the mandatory long-form census.

The current government will tell you it’s about privacy. That was the argument they used in 2010 when they axed this basic foundational instrument of policy-making. It is ironic then that they are so keen to introduce their anti-terror legislation as well as their internet surveillance legislation neither of which seem particularly concerned with an individual’s privacy… it is noteworthy that Jennifer Stoddard, Canada’s privacy commissioner at the time, found the census was exemplary when it came to dealing with privacy concerns.

Gould - beside tree full length smile

Karina Gould is the federal Liberal candidate for Burlington.

Finally, let’s think about costs. You’ve made your not-so-delicious, far from perfect banana bread and you now know you can’t serve it. So what was the point of wasting $22 million more than the cost of the long-form census on a voluntary survey with a low response rate and poor results? For a government that is committed to cutting cost and reducing waste, it seems they missed the mark on this file.

But TODAY, Tuesday, February 4th, there is an opportunity to fix this mess. Bill C-626, a Private Member’s Bill, will be up for second reading in the House of Commons. The opposition parties have committed to supporting it. Let’s hope a few government members will as well.

Not bringing back the long-form census, to me, is bananas. Bringing it back makescensus.

Karina Gould, is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the constituency of Burlington

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1 comment to Candidate wants the long form census brought back – thinks getting rid of it was a dumb idea.

  • D.Duck

    And this is why I will not vote Liberal, either.
    Hey, Peppar…………are you allowing any other party candidates free reign on your Gazette???