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No, wait, I got a dumber one!

July 23, 2010
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I am endlessly surprised by the creativity the Conservative government is putting into explaining why their irrational, scientifically unsound decision to scrap the mandatory long form census is really A-OK.  This one comes from none other than Minister Doris Day himself:

“All we’re saying is, people shouldn’t be threatened with jail because they don’t want to tell some unknown bureaucrat how many bedrooms they’ve got in their house,” Mr. Day told Calgary radio station QR-77 on Friday.

“And you know, even prisoners of war only have to give their name, rank and serial number.”

and

“We live in an information age where any 12-year-old kid can push any button on the Internet and find out any information he or she wants without threatening a citizen that they’re going to go to jail.”

I mean, that’s real quality off-the-of-your-head-mumbo-jumbo-spattering.  The kind of thing Sarah Palin pulls off in her sleep, but up here in Canada, it’s a bit of a rare thing. Although, Stockwell Day is the go-to guy for such nuggets.

Just think about the difference for a moment, a mere moment, and you’ll see the craziness of it.  A POW is being held by a foreign power, with which their nation is at war, and we have a rule saying they can’t be forced to give arbitrary information.  Right, because that often leads to torture of the poor soldier who’s probably just following orders from his country.  That’s very, very different from the citizen of a country that provides them services.  A country they pay taxes to, vote in, perhaps even fight and give their life to defend.  A citizen of such a country has a social contract with their nation.  This contract has duties on both sides, mostly duties of the state to the citizen, but a few duties for the citizen to the state as well.  You don’t get nothing for nothing.  Filling out the census is like that, paying what is necessary to get the large number of services we get from Canada.  It is NOT like questioning a prisoner of war. Not.

As for kids looking up on the internet how many bedrooms my house is, what my ethnicity is, and how much I make a year.  Sorry Stockwell, most kids aren’t that smart unless they can hack into my bank and Statistics Canada to get the info.  The difference is, I trust Statscan with my information.  It’s the government, if they were misusing the information some investigative reporter would find out eventually and someone would sue and some opposition party would make a fuss.  And most public servants actually care about what the government does and feel they have  duty to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so they won’t, in general, misuse the information.

But then, I’m just a pie-eyed rational-person who trusts government functions in an orderly, law-abiding manner.  Unlike you, Minister Day, who seems to think filling out a census amount to telling some bureaucrat how much I make.  And you’re one IN government.  Sigh.

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