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A way out exists

Tony Clement had an opportunity to perform today in front of the Industry Committee. One thing that can be said for Clement is that he is always well prepared, knows his files and it’s hard to trip him up. In addition, he always surrounds himself with highly competent staff, who keep him well briefed and prepared. As expected, his performance was pretty solid.

With the government refusing to back down on the long form census issue, they will now have to endure another week of negative press stories. One can always tell where these issues originate. If a minister screws up and makes a bad decision or makes a poor comment, PMO comes down like a ton of bricks on that minister’s staff or even the minister. A clarification from the minister’s office follows shortly after PMO intervenes.

When PMO is the source of the issue and negative stories, all too often they get stubborn, dig in their heels and refuse to budge. A story that should never have been one in the first place thus stretches out over days. In the end common sense usually prevails and political reality wins out. A recent example of this would be the decision to back down on changing the words to the national anthem.

So far on the census issue several respected organizations have suggested ways to solve this problem to everyone’s satisfaction.  These solutions cover some of the contentious issues such as which questions are intrusive and whether or not completion of the census should be compulsory. Today the minister indicated to the committee that he would listen to suggestions from others. This is a positive move. Thus the government has a way out if it wants to move this issue out of the spot light.

PMO has been insisting that ministers are now responsible for everything that happens in their department. In this case it means the minister gets hauled on the carpet for a PMO mistake, but if this policy really does mean that the minister is responsible for running his department then perhaps PMO should keep their fingers out of this issue and let the minister find a solution that is acceptable to all sides.

Reader Comments (4)

A word to all those lovers of big government: if the government's decision to make the long form census voluntary is such a terrible move because it was done without consultation, where was the consultation when the mandatory long form census legislation was enacted? I don't recall the government and/or its bureaucratic thugs letting the public have a say when this piece of unnecessary and intrusive legislation was enacted. The statists are all for burdening the public with all kinds of ridiculous rules and regulations, but it is never permitted that any of these regulations be questioned or repealed.

July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPowell Lucas

Anonymous, the first Canadian census was in 1891. Maybe you should use your teabag powers to channel Sir John A and ask him yourself.

The tinfoil's too tight Anonymous

July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGene Rayburn

Actually, Mr. Rayburn, the first Canadian census was in 1871.

That notwithstanding, if the only concern is that some constituencies won't fill out a voluntary long form, then why aren't these organizations readying plans to make sure that they fill it out?

To be quite frank, threatening me with fines or jail time because I won't tell the government what they want to know won't necessarily get reliable information either, they'll just think that they have reliable information.

Next long form I get, I think that I'll be born in Spain, France, Italy and Saudi Arabia, speak 150 languages fluently and live a 2 room shack with my 5 wives and 15 kids. Sound fair enough to you?

July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Dave Rutherford discussed the new long form for the 2011 census, and one question is, do you have trouble bending over, do you or anyone in your household suffer from a mental problem, and other stupid question, they ask how many rooms in your house, excluding bathrooms an hallways.
QR 77, it must be in the archives, check it out. The long from is on line somewhere, Tony mentioned, but forget where. Probably at Stats Canada.

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary T

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