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Guessing About the Silent Majority

July 20, 2010

Just a quick note on the continuing CensusGate.

Some questions over Minister Clement’s honesty and  very fun sarcastic response to recent contortions to explain their ‘reasoning’ to drop the census.

It has been pointed out that the US actually experimented on a small scale with a voluntary census and abandoned the plan as it would produce worse data that would cost more to fix than the original mandatory census.  But I guess trying out a major change in government policy with an experiment is a scientific approach which goes against Conservative party principles.  I hope all those old Progressive Conservatives out there call out their new overlords for this abandonment of what used to be a fairly reasonable and scientific conservative consensus in this country. Sadly, I don’t expect much given the silence of conservatives over this government’s continuous disrespect for a logical, scientific approach to decision making. From the environment, to women’s health, to drug addiction to firearms the new Conservative party has no time for evidence, scientific arguments or thorough studies.  Everything is done on gut instinct and emotion.  Not that they aren’t very intelligent people who are thinking very hard about what they are doing.  I think the Conservative party uses a lot of statistics and analysis behind the scenes, but only to determine which emotional buttons will create the right affects to get their party into power.

The Conservatives, of course, say they actually speak for most of us:

“We’re not there to please all special interest groups, we’re there for the silent majority of Canadians,” Conservative MP Maxime Bernier told The Canadian Press on Sunday.

“I’m sure that the big majority of Canadians understand that, and will agree with our decisions.”

Mr. Bernier said he had received 1,000 messages at the time from Canadians upset with the 2006 census. On Monday, he said on his blog that “these messages were obviously not filed for future use by my staff and were deleted.”

Ok, two thing. First of all, how would they know what the majority wants when their party got less than < 40% support in the last election?  They can only speak for the narrow set of solid supporters they have, no more than 20-30% of the country with the rest of their support coming from weaknesses in their opponents and a lack of choices rather than any ideological agreement with them.

Second thing, those thousands of messages sure would be useful evidence for his argument, but he doesn’t have the data, this is great irony.  But it’s also purposely misleading, most likely those complaints were from the organized campaign in 2006 to protest the use of a US defense contractor for data processing of the Canadian census. These people weren’t protesting the principle of a detailed census, they were protesting this data and money being funneled through Lockheed Martin.  Which you could understand generating thousands of emails.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2010 2:05 pm

    The less government in our lives the better Canada is already a nanny state.

    As for the gun registry, goodbye and so long it was a pain knowing you. You must be writing from central Canada, as your attitude is common from that region or transplanted to the West from there.

    What Ontario or Quebec may think is right for Canada is only right for Ontario and Quebec.

    Canada is a confederation of regions and the cultural identity is unique throughout Canada from region to region, Quebec does not hold the crown in this debate. That is the reason why the country is fractured politically; values from each region as well as political choices reflect the diversity of Canada as a nation and what concerns central Canada is not necessarily important to Western Canada.

    The status quo no longer works in Canada, the reality is clearly visible and reflected in the different governments in the provincial legislatures in Western Canada, the region that has become the economic engine of Canada, and money is power in politics. Frustrating, as it is Western Canada is the new wealth of the country and Central Canada has the population base and the clash of the regional cultures is divisive to the nation and Quebec, well that is a debate for another post eh.

    The “Gun” problem in Toronto is a direct cause of violent gangs, not average law-abiding Canadian gun owners who were turned into criminals for refusing to register firearms with some bogus government agency that was not needed or wanted by the eight plus million responsible gun owners in Canada.

    Not everyone buys their meat from a store some people hunt, others shoot for recreational purposes and others still believe in property rights and the right to defend our families from home invasion. Not every Canadian has access to the police in an emergency calling 911, in rural areas it can take up to thirty minutes for the police to arrive, so the ability to protect my children falls directly to me.

    If you had open carry in say Toronto, crime would go down, that is a proven fact, in the United States, states that have open carry laws have seen a reduction in crime as the cowards who prey on innocent people think twice about it, risk and reward much like a cougar assess the situation before it attacks.

    Guns do not kill people, people do and responsible gun owners are not the ones in court charged with shooting people in public. My choice is just as relevant as yours is and I respect you choice not to own a firearm a decision you made freely so you must also respect my choice.

    In closing, here is some food for thought, if Toronto experiences a natural disaster on the scale of say New Orleans, do you really think the government is in a position to protect you and your loved ones from the anarchy that will overtake the system until order is restored?

    I lived in Canada for a good many years and it being a crime to prevent an intruder from harming you in your own home is a crime in Canada, that in and of its self is the height of stupidity, so good luck to you and enjoy the intrusion of government in your daily life. The conservatives at least have it right on this one, your privacy is more important than being forced to submit by law to a census.

    • July 20, 2010 3:55 pm

      thank you rjblack for your comment. And yes, I will enjoy living in a state where the government has ‘intrusive’ access to information about me to enable it to run efficient, centralized services for the benefit of all Canadians whether they live in the West or elsewhere, whether they own guns or not and whether they are Conservative or not. This post was not about guns but I guess that’s what got you reading it. I personally don’t understand why anyone in our society needs to privately own guns, but that’s an extreme view and I recognize that. I do think however it is reasonable to ban guns in cities and restrict private ownership of guns to only long guns used for hunting and safety in rural parts of Canada. The idea that having a handgun in your house makes you safer is a fallacy. Having a responsive, well paid police force that can tackle gang crime and a society that values makes it possible for everyone, regardless of income level, to get an education and pull themselves out of poverty — that’s what makes you safer, not having a handgun under your pillow.

      I’ve learned living in the West that the stereotypes we all have about different regions of Canada are exaggerated and do not apply most of the time. So saying people believe something because they are form Ontario or Quebec or Alberta is over simplistic. When we decide what is best for Canada it should take account of all the voices and listen to the population as a whole. This does mean that larger population centres will have more say, and that’s as it should be. Democracy is not about who has more money its about who has more voters.

  2. July 20, 2010 5:30 pm

    Hi thanks for the reply, the gun business did get my attention in your post but I am fully prepared to address any issue on national unity and what is best for Canada as a democracy.

    Canada is only a democracy at election time after that is becomes a socialist dictatorship as the Prime Minister has absolute power, if the party has a majority. We have witnessed this time and time again in Canada and both the liberals and conservatives are guilty of driving legislation down our throats.

    Owning a gun contrary to what you may believe is a right, under the bill of rights, I have a right to the security of the person or if you believe in the think, free philosophy security of the person is the shares you own in the corporation known as Canada. Listed with the SEC in New York and trading in the stock market with the head office located at the Canadian embassy in Washington D.C

    I can only assume that you have never been directly violated in a physical attack where you life was threatened and you indeed believed you would die, or you were never raised around guns and that would explain your extreme view. Guns in the hands of private citizens prevent the state from doing nasty things to you.

    After the G8 disaster in Toronto and the violation of the charter of rights, you truly believe the police need more power. Believe me the government does not have your interest at heart and proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that when push comes to shove the charter is out the window.

    Having a weapon that makes me safer is not a fallacy; it is reality, properly trained in the use and storage of a long gun or pistol I can defend myself, and that is security.

    You cannot take into account all the voices of Canadians in an election, as you know when the polls close in eastern and central Canada the election has already been decided. The eight million voices in Western Canada casting ballets are worthless, it just decides either how large the opposition will be or the size of the minority the government will have.

    Money equates power, make no bones about it, Alberta financed this country for the past eight years and still does to the tune of 40 billion in equalisation payments. In my view, the province should retain every penny and spend it on Albertans first and whatever is left over send to the centralised Federal government so they can waste billions more on babysitting children in a national daycare programme or finance some right wing or left wing group the decries the country and all its inequities, real or perceived.

    Arts is an important cultural commodity and should be financed through national and provincial programmes, but placing a picture of Jesus in a toilet and defecating on it is not art, neither is dropping a cinderblock on a rat from three stories, but yet the “artists” get federal financing. That used to be my tax dollars financing that “art”

    Sorry ranting here not excited just ranting. It is easy to point out inequities, but Canada also is a wonderful country with so much to offer the world and has more in common with the United States than Europe, I just wish Canadians would wake up to that reality.


    • July 21, 2010 10:36 am

      Hi rj, thanks for the reply. Although I disagree strongly with a lot of what you say, I’m happy to have civil discussions about those differences.

      You’re right that Canada has a lot in common with the US, perhaps more than we do with Europe. I don’t see that as a bad thing but I do think of Canada as somehow sitting halfway between two philosophies in a similar way that the UK does, with us a bit closer to the US and the UK a bit closer to the continent. But all of these are really broad generalities and each country needs to be looked at based on its own history and people.

      I don’t think there’s much point us debating guns and security, I simply can’t see myself as more able to defend myself than relying on the police. I rather have a well trained police force with high standards than a population with guns. However, I must admit that the behaviour of our police forces recently is not terribly inspiring. I’m not really upset about the G8, I think they went a bit far, and they shouldn’t have deceived the public but ordered must be kept and I think they should have done more to stop the hooligans burning cars while backing off on the legitimate protestors more. The RCMP concern me more, they have shown repeated disregard over the past few years for the needs of the public and chosen to defend themselves amidst scandal rather than carry out the real institutional changes they need.

      And yet, even seething about that, my response is different from yours. I don’t think of providing a counterweight to the government by encouraging the population directly to fight the government. I would rather create top down investigations of the institutional problems and fix them. I think dispersing security and decision making too much leads to inefficiency and anarchy if you take it to the extreme. I’m a huge advocate of democratic reform, yet I disagree with some of my peers that direct democracy ala California is the solution. Too much second guessing of government paralyzes their ability to do anything. To me this seems similar to dealing with security concerns by arming the population. It can be dealt with better in a centralized fashion as long as there is a lot of oversight and the ability to reform when problems arise. The military is a great example of this, they had a lot of problems during the 90s after the Airborne division affair. But they found the problems, disbanded some units, changed their training and changed their culture. Now they have returned to being one of the most respective divisions of government, perhaps the most.

      I guess the summary of my philosophy is: If government is the problem, then lets fix government.

  3. No to guns... permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:10 am

    I have been threatened with violence to the point that I believed my life was about to end. So does that meant that I have a ‘justified’ right to carry a gun with me? To readily avail a gun to people without proper background information is irresponsible and simply dangerous. The new census says more about the government’s disregard for Canada’s “democracy” that has taken centuries to build. Why do people flock here from dictatorships? Why was Canada looked on as a genuinely great place to live? All that is being eroded layer by layer by this government. The only good outcome, as it always happens with an irresponsible government is galvanizing the people’s resolute to stand up for their rights. For what is truly ours. How come the Conservatives are taking seriously 1,000 e-mails that complain about doing their civic duty, but mocked 200,000 people that got together to plan & attend rallies across the country during the unwanted prorogation of the government? They used words like intrusive, coerced, obligatory… democracy is dirty, and a lot of work. If these 1,000 people don’t like doing their civil duty, then maybe they need to live in a real dictatorship and realize that Canada is far from it (unless we allow these so called intrusions disappear) It is easy to call Canada socialist, but until we don’t understand the terms that we are using, we are simply misinforming people. If people wanted to live in a country more like the US, they are just a drive away, why not move there? Canada is not like the US, and we should do everything within our civic rights to stop that from ever happening.

  4. July 22, 2010 8:23 am

    Mark, you are too reasonable! I do agree with much of what you say especially on the RCMP.
    I understand your apprehension on guns all too well, I used to hold the same views and then life changes instantly and what once was shall never be again.

    The real power in any country is her people, not the institutions, they are the by-product of the will of the people and are there to only serve us, not control our lives, remember everything Hitler did was legal, and one of the first things he did was disarm the general population. We are not entitled to security if we surrender or rights willingly to any government.

    Remember, any government that is big enough to give you everything, is also big enough to take it away.

    As you clearly understand, Royal Commissions or judicial inquiries into any government wrong doing takes years to complete if the sitting government chooses to open one, again majority rule in Parliament and honestly Canada has not had any real leadership in the last fifty years.

    The bloc Quebecois stated goal is the separation of Quebec, and yet Canadian tax dollars finance this illegal party and Canadians tolerate it, let us start there with reform! In my opinion, they are traitors and should be dealt with accordingly bring back the noose!

    It is funny that you mention California, I married American women from there and that is now my home. I do still work in Canada half of the year as my skills are very niche, few people work in my vocation, and I will not even attempt to explain income tax deductions, argh!

    California is a double edge sword; many propositions that pass nullify or conflict with others and then you enter into a world of pure magical nightmares, as the saying goes I can explain America easy enough, and then there is California.

    Reform in Canada is necessary and moving away from a parliamentary system to a republic or true democracy such as Greece would blow this country off its foundations. We cannot even get an elected triple E senate that would benefit Western Canada more so than the rest of Canada as it would counter anything Quebec wants, and the leader of the Bloc has clearly stated that.

    As for the disbanding of the airborne, that was a mistake and the liberals did it for political expediency, when you send in a security force to protect peacekeepers and keep them in the wire, pardon the expression but shit is going to happen.

    Not to sound crass, but did you ever serve?
    Have you ever been shot at?
    Did you ever stand post in a hostile environment where snipers shoot at your position randomly?

    When an unknown comes through the wire in the middle of the night all bets are off, he could be calling in mortar rounds, measuring the distance from the wire to our sleeping quarters, or be packed with explosives. You need real time information to assess the threat and in a war zone and it was a war zone with no defined enemy that type of information is the difference between coming home and a ramp ceremony.

    Sure, it may have been extreme, but what would the reaction have been if 200 Canadians were killed that night?

    • July 24, 2010 3:08 pm

      rjblack, I agree with you that power does come the people and we must remain forever vigilant I just there are a lot of steps between the Canada or the US function now and a fascist dictatorship, I assure you, if the difference becomes smaller I would be out doing what I can to stop it. But assuming that our system is fairly honest and respectful of our rights I see no need for extreme measures. As for the Bloc, I wouldn’t say they are an illegal party, their stance is unfortunate and I don’t believe they ever will separate, its not in their interest or in the rest of Canada’s. The best way to reduce their voice is to change how we count votes so that the voice of the people of Quebec is heard accurately. Right now the Bloc gets the largest voting bonus of any party from our flawed first past the post voting system. If we switched to some form of proportional reform the Bloc would instantly become smaller than the NDP and about the same size as the Green party would be.

      I don’t think a republic is in the cards, nor would I want it. And you’re right, any kind of constitutional change seems to be extremely hard to make happen but I would debate with you that nothing has happened in 50 years. The repatriation of the constitution and the creation of the Charter are major things and I think Trudeau should be classified as an important leader for what he made happen.

      As for the military, I have a lot of friends in the forces. I do not know what is like to be under fire but I know that a lot of them feel the tone and respect within the forces for others has improved enormously in the past 10-20 years, that is all. I think the RCMP need to go through a similar shakeup to get their house in order.

  5. July 22, 2010 9:15 am

    No to Guns

    Yes you do have a justified right to open carry as long as you are trained and responsible in the use, handling and storage of a firearm. Do you really think that you would have been attacked if the perpetrator knew you had the ability to protect yourself? I think not.

    As for the protests on the illegal act of prorogation, a large majority of Canadians were in favour of this alternative to a coalition of left wing and separatists controlling the government.

    Canada is indeed a great place to live no argument there from me.

    As for this government being irresponsible, according to all financial reports and the IMF, it was the measures of the Canadian government that allowed this country to be in the great shape it is in compared to say, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and the United States.

    Your “rant” on how Canada is not as the United States is only a partial truth, there are many cultural similarities between both nations and many differences as well. If you travel to the USA, everything is familiar to you as a Canadian, money, language, movies ECT. Try finding that in Quebec City.

    Because I disagree with you and your view of Canada, you take the typical left response and immediately attack my right to dissent and tell me to move, a very weak argument considering your trumping of rights, so it is ok to step all over mine?

    If I choose not to fill out a census form, that is my right, so again you walk over my rights to privacy. I did my civic duty so you could express your opinion, do not tell me how to live, you do not have the authority or right.

    You comprehension of government in Canada is also weak, the office of the Prime Minister of Canada, regardless of who he/she is, when compared to the leaders of all democratised countries is the most powerful office in the world because of the extremely centralised power in that office. That alone should scare the hell out of you, and thanks to the liberals, the office is that way.

    If you put aside your political philosophy for a while, use critical thinking skills, and research the government say going back 60 years, you will understand what I am telling you. This is not what the vision of Canada was and the changes that have fractured this country by regions are a direct result of one man using a majority government to push this legislation down our throats.

    That does not sound like a democracy to me, more of a dictatorship, and that is why this country attempts to define her national identity, as I am not an American. That sounds more like a pathetic insecure little child than a thinking mature adult does.

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