By now, anyone who is not living under a rock, knows that the decision to eliminate the long-census form has lobotomized the government and made public policy a mystical, maudlin, and moralistic guessing game rather than an objective evidence-based undertaking. Many compelling arguments regarding this sad outcome have been made and are firmly grasped by most.
To the few dissenters—who coincidentally already align themselves with the political right— I say this: if you are not going to oppose the census decision for statistical reasons, than do it to save conservatism! How is that possible? Well, it seems to me that the data debacle hurts Canadian conservatism in two very basic ways. First, the elimination of the form is an assault on the principle of individual responsibility. The government has effectively admitted that it is willing to capitulate to a group of citizens that find the census form burdensome. In so doing, the Conservatives have confessed to their belief that the public is too apathetic and too indolent to complete one of its very few and easy civic duties. At a time when voter turnout is pathetically low and civic intelligence is woefully inadequate, we are telling our citizens that they should not be bothered by the simple chance that they be required to answer a few questions once every five years. Does this not show a lack of faith in human industriousness? Does anyone else find it strange that a Conservative government, in a period of severe indebtedness, is spending an additional $30 million to make Canadians do less work?
Secondly, with the elimination of the long census, Conservatives have made it more difficult for actors outside of the meddlesome state to supplement good public policy. Groups outside the government, at very little cost to the government, add an enormous amount of value to efforts to improve economic development, health care, education, equity, and other policy areas. Generally, they do this using their own resources, and on their own merits. Simple logistics, however, prevent private policy actors from accumulating the kind of helpful data provided by the census. Therefore, these groups rely on the census data and have had it gladly given to them by government.
Past governments realized that it is much easier for them to collect data, and that by collecting and distributing that data, they ultimately did less work, intervened less, and harnessed the creativity of private sector policy groups. Conversely, the Conservatives are practicing the very arrogance, elitism, and central planning mentality that they often accuse their opponents of. Through the reduction of citizen provided information, the Conservatives have said that they trust themselves with decision-making, not the experiences of the public.
Conservatives seem unaware of these facts and have started the strange exercise of using an ideological decision to erode their own ideology. Who would have thought Canada would have a Conservative Nanny State!
– Dylan Marando