Thursday, July 22, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 5.8-pt CPC Lead (down 0.5)

EKOS is up with its bi-weekly poll. But they make us wait for two weeks for nothing much. However, the Conservatives are showing a lack of life, possibly due to the ridiculous situation with the census. We'll have to see how things progress in the next few weeks. But first...Compared to EKOS's last two-week poll earlier this month, the Conservatives are virtually unchanged. They've gained 0.1 points to reach 32.2%. The Liberals are up 0.6 points to 26.4%, while the New Democrats are down 1.1 points to 16.4%.

The Greens are down 0.2 to 11.9% and the Bloc Québécois is up 0.4 to 10.1%.

At the national level, the Conservatives dominate among men with 36.8% to the Liberals' 24.4%. But among females the Liberals are actually ahead with 28.4% to the Conservatives' 27.7%. The Liberals are also showing life among those under the age of 45, as they lead that group. The Conservatives lead among those over the age of 45.

EKOS also broke down their two-week poll by those two weeks. From July 7 to 13 the Conservatives led with 31.6% to the Liberals' 27.5%, followed by the NDP at 14.7%. In the week of July 14 to 20, however, the Conservatives increased their support slightly to 32.4% while the Liberals dropped to 25.5%. The NDP jumped up to 18.4%.

For the entire two week period, the Conservatives lead in Ontario with 34.9%, unchanged from EKOS's last poll. The Liberals are up one to 32.6% while the NDP is down two to 16.4%. The Liberals lead in Toronto with 39.5% (compared to 31.1% for the Tories) while the Conservatives lead in Ottawa with 37.6% (compared to 33.7% for the Liberals).

In Quebec, the Bloc is up one to 39.5%, followed by the Liberals at 22.3% (up one) and the Conservatives at 15.9% (also up one). The NDP is down two to 11.4%. The Bloc leads in Montreal with 40.6%, followed by the Liberals at 21.8%.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are down five points to 30.4%. The NDP is up five to 28.7% and the Liberals are up four to 23.5%. The Greens are down four to 13.3%. The Conservatives lead in Vancouver with 39.4%, followed by the Liberals at 25.4%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada with 36.9% while the Conservatives lead in Alberta with 55.9%. There's been some movement in the Prairies, with the Conservatives up 12 to 49.3% and the Liberals down seven to 16.2%.

The Conservatives win 65 seats in the West and North, 48 seats in Ontario, 6 in Quebec, and 9 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 128.

The Liberals win 15 seats in the West and North, 43 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 21 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 94.

The Bloc wins 52 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 15 seats in the West, 15 in Ontario, 2 in Quebec, and 2 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 34.

Things are pretty much stuck. Overall the Liberals did see a gain but their lower number was in the most recent week. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next two weeks as the Liberal Express bus tour continues and the census issue becomes more embarrassing for the Conservatives.


  1. I agree that the situation with the census is ridiculous.

    How can any sane person think it appropriate for the governement to use the threat of prison to extract intrusive personal information from Canadians?

    It's truly shocking that so many Canadians (about half according to Ipsos) are authoritarians.

  2. 49% of people support the gov'ts decision on the census.

    So if it becomes more an issue I look foward to them gaining support.

  3. Oh Henry. You're funny! But taking what you said, I'm in complete agreement with you.

    I fail to understand how this should be embarrassing to the Conservatives.

    People whine and complain that their privacy is being infringed upon (Facebook, Cameras everywhere, personal information everywhere...), but when the Conservatives move to make privacy a matter of choice, they get crapped on.

    It seems to me that the left will complain when nothing's being done, they will complain when anything's being done, and they will complain that it's either being done too quickly - with no oversight, or not quickly enough - with dragging of heels.

    Whine and gripe whatever the circumstance - maybe something will stick...

    I might be a little slow in coming to this conclusion, but does anyone else see the hypocrisy and rhetoric in that way of thinking?

  4. Whats even more shocking is that even those who support getting rid of the long-form still have to fill out the short-form, and file their income tax, under penalty of jail.

    Shocking I tell you. You know who else liked the census and tax-forms?
    ...Hitler, that's who.

    That poll also showed that 2/3rds of Canadians thought the long-form was a "resonable intrusion".

    What a bunch of nanny state, sheeple we have in this country.

    Burn your census. Hide your extra bedrooms. Live free or die.

  5. It was interesting to me that the number of people who thought the government's plan for the census was bad increased as their level of education increased.

  6. It was interesting that the younger you were or if you lived in Quebec you were more likely to support the government's decision.

    A generation of libertarians has been spawned.

    (Or just really paranoid kids wondering if there is a secret law allowing CSIS to view all this information ? I mean if they can pass a secret law in Ontario for the G8/G20 anything is possible, right ?)

  7. Eric - OUCH! That's gotta be the best burn I've ever received!

    Now, all seriousness aside, I may not have a masters in anything, or even a degree, but I gots my edumacayshun and the diplomer to prove it! Got some college, and am perfectly happy with my level of education. If I ever decide what I want to do when I grow up, I would definitely go back to school.

    I do not, however, think a specific piece of paper necessarily makes a person smarter. I know tons of people with University educations that couldn't work themselves out of a wet paper bag in a social situation.

    I just love how level of education (or lack thereof) is taken verbatim as a marker of who's intelligent and who isn't! Maybe it has something to do with financial resources also?

    But regardless Eric, awesome burn! Made me laugh. And laughing is fun. I'm going to go read a book and get smarter now... : )

  8. The younger people were just annoyed that they had to DO something.

  9. Sorry Hinchey, I can't hear you from the top of my ivory tower.

  10. I'll bet those same demograpics are in favour of ending marijuana prohibition.

    You might be on to something with a new breed of libertarian, if it's framed correctly. As it stands their is nothing really libertarian about the CPC currently.

    Taking a stand against mandatory minimums for non-violent offenders, and refoming the HRCs would do ten times more to convince me that this govt. is serious about libertarian principles. (and how about shrinking the size of government while you're at it)

    This little blip of libertarianism regarding the census, wasn't even on my radar for things that should be done. I doubt very much it will win any new votes on it's own.

  11. People with university education tend to fall to the left of the spectrum and this is frequently remarked upon by people who's position they support as showing the enlightment, reasonableness, or correctness of that position.

    However there are plenty of other possibilities to explain this:

    1) Universities teach leftist thinking.

    2) University graduates value statistics more because they've used them fairly regularily.

    3) Its actually a higher income that's the determinate factor and university education is just coorelated to it but has no bearing on the subject.

    and finally the answer Eric was likely driving at:

    4) University graduates have taken a stats course so they know you can't overcome self selection bias by simply increasing the sample size.

    (Apparently nobody ever took moral philosophy when they were in school. Although it doesn't take a genius to figure out that its wrong for the government to ask personal, private, intrusive, embarrasing, and uncomfortable questions under penalty of fine or jail.)


    Slowly getting better coverage on the census... Atleast there is one columnist that is looking at and critiquing the media coverage.

    And Kevin, from a few days ago... "Barcs, just because the media does not advance a theory you would prefer to believe does not mean they are not providing facts."

    It would appear that the "theroy I prefer" (of which I am still on the fence on) would seem to be preferred by approximately 1/2 of Canadians.... So why has the media coverage been so slanted?? Even Akin noticed the slant both now and during the last census to one point of view or another. What would that number be if we had had balanced coverage on the issue?

  13. The questions are hardly embarrassing or intrusive and are, for the most part, so inane as to be tell-able to a complete stranger.

    And, I don't think anyone's been sent to jail. If that is the big issue, than the government merely has to remove that threat.

  14. Another explination for the numbers might be that the older you get, the more seriously you take your civic duties. (voting, census,etc.)

    I'm going to wait for more numbers before I decide either way on this. I have a feeling that this issue may be politically toxic.

    (a mild toxin, to be sure)

  15. Eric - Ivory tower? Seen Iggy lately? Say hi for me. I'm just a 'real person,' one of 'the Canadians.'

    I've been to a couple ivory towers, but just to visit - touristy stuff you know?
    : )

  16. Has it occurred to anyone that this is a "tax on everything," since the cost of doing business will increase across the board as a result? After this change, when you do a market study, either you pay the same as you do now and get results based on worse data, or you have to pay more if you want actual reliable data.

    But I suppose some taxes on everything (that actually cost the government money) are better than others (that raise money for other tax cuts and help the environment)...

  17. The Liberal supporting the right of government to demand information from its citizens provides a whole new situation.

    The government already is BIG BROTHER and demands information from all of us. There is absolutely no need for a long form census and hardly any need for a census at all.

    Once you decide in favour of the government’s need to know is a higher priority than individual privacy we can data-mine the current available accurate and audited data to replace the census data.

    There are whole elaborate systems packaged by Oracle and SAP that specifically combine the information from diverse sources - (examples):Income tax, Welfare rolls, school enrolment and transcripts, EI, real estate transactions, airline travel, financial transactions, NGO and charities audit financial statements, workman’s compensation that the government already has access to but cannot share with Stats Canada.

    All major corporations have implemented Customer Relationship Management systems. These draw on multiple diverse sources to establish the demographics of its customer base and present it in a way to maximize customer service and efficiency of service and sales.

    This would result in cutting down Statistics Canada to a small fraction of its size and cost. The result is a smaller but more effective government with more accurate and current information.

    Elections Canada would also be nearly eliminated as these systems should be able to easily generate voters list and replace the enumeration process.

    Statistics Canada is an obsolete entity that is stuck on providing information using method developed decades ago. Name any other private process that is so out of date that would not have been drive out of the market.

    The head of Stats Canada resigned before his lack of innovation and the bureaucracy’s failure to adapt was fully exposed.

    Census long-form manipulated by bureaucrats in process they have developed over the last 50 years or the power of Oracle/SAP/Google? You build the business case.

  18. Yeash. Lets make it really, really simple.

    No mandatory census = no valid base for polls as you have no idea how many people are of each income bracket/age/race/religion/etc., just a 'best guess'

    This leads to this site, and every other polling site in Canada, being nearly useless as the polling firms have no way to check if they have a representative sample.

    Make sense?

    FYI: I do have some knowledge of these things as I make a living doing surveys (not political ones at the moment) and have a statistics degree.

  19. Eric here's the long form:

    Most people don't go around telling people their incomes. Or if they have mental problems. Or how many hours they do housework, or how much time they get to spend with their kids.

    Nor do I imagine when your house was built, how many bedrooms are in it, and if you need to do any repairs comes up in conversations with strangers.

    Even census defenders, like Stephen Gordon, admit there is an argument to be made for removing certain questions. That doesn't mean the whole thing has to be scrapped.

    But to pretend there's nothing intrusive about some of the questions is just plain silly.

  20. --- Most people don't go around telling people their incomes.

    No, but they already tell the government in the form of their tax returns.

    --- Or if they have mental problems.

    No, but your province is likely aware of this.

    --- Or how many hours they do housework

    If someone asked, I'd answer. Who cares?

    --- or how much time they get to spend with their kids.


    --- Nor do I imagine when your house was built,

    The city already knows this.

    --- how many bedrooms are in it,


    --- and if you need to do any repairs comes up in conversations with strangers.

    Why not? Again, who cares?

    --- But to pretend there's nothing intrusive about some of the questions is just plain silly.

    As far as I can see, some branch of government is already aware of all of the information and the rest is so harmless as to really not be an issue.

    The need to use that confidential information for the public good outweighs someone's odd need not to tell the government how many bedrooms they have.

  21. Embarrassing? How is the census issue embarrassing? The Conservatives are taken a principled stand.

  22. "That poll also showed that 2/3rds of Canadians thought the long-form was a "resonable intrusion"."

    Fine, but does that mean they should be allowed to force that intrusion on the other 1/3rd? How is that fair?

  23. Let's hold a poll on whether people want to pay taxes or not and see what the result is. And then we can change our fiscal policy accordingly.

  24. Ira,

    Can you recall any other "principled stand" on libertarian issues from this government?

    How high was this issue on your list?

    The cynic in me ascribes some rather worse motives for this move. (hint: alot of people don't like affermative action quotas)

    I might be being unfair, but I know how I'd sell this, (if I wanted to), to some of those aforementioned people.

    Maybe that's just my cynical nature, but I haven't seen alot of "principled stands" against more important violations of our freedoms (HRCs?)

  25. The census is just another issue whereby the uneducated don't understand and agree with Harper and the educated understand it and disagree with Harper.

  26. "A generation of libertarians has been spawned." ~Shadow

    I'd say that today's youth are, for the most part, very socially libertarian.

    Things haven't changed much on the fiscal front, though; most hover around the centre, with the usual slight skew to the left.

  27. I love the idea of doing a poll to see what people think of this when, if it happens, polls will move quickly to the 'not matching public viewpoint' area as you cannot tell if they are balanced or not vs the population.

    I suspect AJR79 is closer to the mark than we'd like to think on it being a method to kill off affirmative action, plus you can mix in how it will make poverty disappear (poor are less likely to answer) among other things.

    Of course, Harper might just want to merge all federal databases together with provincial and municipal ones as that would provide him with tons of data (as a stats guy I'd love to access it) and a failed census would demand it occur. Hopefully I'm wrong, but just watch in 2012 if the CPC gets a majority what happens. Quite sad as I hoped for a CPC majority back in 2004 and now I fear it.

  28. Éric - Yes, the people would probably object to taxes. And rightly so; taxes are theft. That's why we should tax as little as possible and make sure that every dollar we take is a dollar we need to take - that each dollar provides good value to Canadians.

    AJR79 - No, I can recall no other principled stand. That's why I'm so happy about this one.

    SK - A socially libertarian electorate is, I think, easier to swing over the fiscal libertarianism, because both positions are based around question why something is the government's business, and whether it should be.

  29. John_Northey I don't think polling is going to go away anytime soon.

    A large enough, randomly sampled poll weighted by region, sex, and age (all still mandatory) would do just fine.

    As far as I know polling companies use extra factors when they have small sample sizes.

  30. Eric the questions sound harmless to the average person.

    But there are situations where the information could be very damaging.

    The province doesn't keek tabs on people's medical records. If your doctor diagnoses you with depression that's between you and your doctor.

    Government files have been hacked before. Government employees have leaked private information before.

    If I were a politician or a CEO with a mental illness I wouldn't put it on the census.

    That could kill end somebody's career.

    Or if I were running for office and people found out I lived in a house with 100 bedrooms. (Remember John McCain getting in trouble for having 7 houses.)

    Or if I spent ZERO hours with my kids and was labelled a deadbeat dad.

    Or if I didn't want to write down I had Japaneese ancestory because back in WW2 they used the census to stick people in internment camps. Next time it could be a conflict with China.

    Maybe asian-Canadians don't want to risk it, eh ?

    Tons of reasons and circumstances where people would feel nervous giving out all this information in one central database.

  31. If people are concerned, they can always fall back on the time-tested method of lying.

    Perhaps they can remove some of the questions that some people find intrusive, remove the threat of jail and reduce fines.

    That would be a sensible compromise. The approach the government is using is clumsy and stupid. Rather than find the way to make this work and make everyone somewhat happy, they've decided to destroy the census.

  32. What is it with this CPC and anything "long". They want to scrap the long gun registry, yet they will keep the pistol and machine gun registry. Even though the cost saving argument fails if you don't scrap both registries. And despite the fact that all arguments for scrapping the long gun registry apply equally well to the rest of the registry.

    Now it's scrap the long form census (or make it "voluntary" - I'm sure you could voluntarily register your guns if the registry was scrapped too). I haven't heard a cost saving argument yet, but I suspect it would have the same minor saving if any. And like the gun registry, any arguments for scrapping the long form census apply equally well to the short form census.

    So the rhetorical question would be: Why does the CPC support a mandatory "short form" intrusive nanny state? Didn't Hitler like short form papers too? Is there more of an argument to be made here?

  33. I just love how level of education (or lack thereof) is taken verbatim as a marker of who's intelligent and who isn't!
    I love how people make straw arguments and then demolish them. A high level of education can indicate someone is likely to be more intelligent, but a low level does not indicate they are not. Put more simply, someone being an NHL hockey player implies they are very physically fit, but not being an NHL hockey player doesn't mean they are not fit.

  34. Eric that's kind of my point.

    People who don't want to answer certain questions probably just lie or fill them out randomly.

    So taking them out of the sample isn't actually going to hurt the accuracy of the census.

    My concern about making it voluntary is that people who are just plain lazy, as opposed to those with security concerns, will probably stop filing it out.

    That's why i've suggested it remain mandatory but there be a box beside the questions where you can check off "decline to answer".

    That way they can get as much information as you're comfortable giving and the lazy people still have to fill it out.

    Although I also think they should cut down on the number of questions and maybe send out different versions to different people.

    Look, the gov'ts handling of this wasn't great. Doesn't mean we just stick with the old way of doing things though.

    Consultations should have been held. The commmittee should have studied the issue, a senate report could have been done. A look at other jurisdictions.

    Lots of ideas for census reform!

    But that status quo is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

  35. Notwithstanding my sympathy with the view that people shouldn't be compelled to do things they don't want to and that some of the questions asked in the census are instrusvie without any obvious public benefit, the government's position is silly.

    What they should have done is decriminalize failing to fill-out a census form (so that the penalty is only a fine, not prison - in practice that's what it is anyhow), have statscan take a hard look at the census questions to determine to what extent there is a public benefit from asking them (um, my self-assessed value of my house - $1 trillion dollars - probably not that useful), and cut out those questions which couldn't pass the test. That would have been seen as a effort to accomodate privacy concerns without rendering the census more or less useless.

    The reality is that this isn't a big enough issue to really win them any votes (are any hard-core libertarians switch from voting NDP, Green or Liberal, to Tory because of the census? really). On the other hand, the government's defense (and, in particular, Tony Clement's apparent statistical illiteracy - I used to think he was reasonably smart, at least for a politician) makes them look dumb without the redeeming merit of being principled. Now, when they climb down of their ledge(as they will surely do), it'll look like a defeat rather than a reasonable compromise.

  36. Shadow, a "decline to answer" or "I don't know" box would have been another good compromise.

    There were many, many options on the table. The government chose the worst one, and is now sticking by it to the point where reversing their decision would be a defeat, rather than a sensible change of mind.

  37. Liberal Supporter you are aware of moderation right ? That public policy is built around competing concerns that need to be balanced out to a reasonable degree ?

    I support taxes but not 100% taxation.

    I support assault weapons and small firearms being registered but not long guns.

    I support the short form census but not making people fill out the long form if they have concerns.

    That's not being logically inconsistent. And there's nothing wrong or contradictory with taking these positions.

    "Some vices miss what is right because they are deficient, others because they are excessive, in feelings or in actions, while virtue finds and chooses what is intermediate." - Aristotle

  38. Liberal Supporter you are aware of moderation right ? That public policy is built around competing concerns that need to be balanced out to a reasonable degree ?
    It's been over 4 1/2 years but I remember that's how it used to be. Reasonableness. Now there's something I haven't associated with "federal government" in a while.

    I support taxes but not 100% taxation.
    Nice dodge. What about 0% taxation? Isn't that how it was before WWI, no income tax?

    I support assault weapons and small firearms being registered but not long guns.
    Why? Not one life has been saved by the pistol 'n Uzi registry. What good is it? Isn't the argument that we already register the owners, so no need to register the firearms themselves? Do long guns somehow not kill people as dead when fired at them? A shotgun will do a lot more damage to a person than a regular pistol could. What makes them different?

    I support the short form census but not making people fill out the long form if they have concerns.
    Your "prefer not to say" option has merit, but that is not what the government is trying to sell. Why would you support making people fill out the short form? Why can't we just hire polling firms and keep the government out of this as the Fraser Institute says?

    That's not being logically inconsistent. And there's nothing wrong or contradictory with taking these positions.
    I think the logical inconsistency is way higher on the gun registry. You are correct that there is nothing wrong with taking these positions, just as there is nothing wrong with ridiculing these positions.

    "Some vices miss what is right because they are deficient, others because they are excessive, in feelings or in actions, while virtue finds and chooses what is intermediate." - Aristotle
    Nice appeal to authority; "everything in moderation" is the shorter version. But we are not talking about vices, this is about the CPC attack on all of our institutions. It is about the incrementalist approach to dismantling our system to suit the CPC base.
    So can you explain why registering some guns is necessary but registering others is not. We register all the cars, don't we?
    Similarly, why is it that some parts of the census should be mandatory, complete with coercive State apparatus, while other parts should not.

  39. I think the cons are in too deep and have screwed themselves. I have seen how useful the long form info can be for schools, municipalities and NGOs and charities. As a former census worker in my youth, i know all addresses, phone#s etc are destroyed as soon as the info is tabulated. I hope the cons go down on this, now that the chief of statscan has resigned. Its just another paranoid, ideologicaly driven fearmongering
    attempt to pander to what they concieve of as their base

  40. No one seems to want to talk about the fact that the hare-brained Tory plan to send the long form to millions more people but also make it voluntary - is also been estimated to drive up the overall cost of the census by about $30 million dollars. Leave it to the Tories to flush tax dollars down the toilet again. This is the most fiscally irresponsible federal government of all times!

  41. AJR79 and Ira I believe this would count as another principled libertarian style stand:

    No more affirmative action in federal hires. Adrian McNair's blog first brought this to my attention. I'm glad the government is taking action to fix the situation.

    NDP is outraged. Interesting to see where the Liberals stand.

  42. "It would appear that the "theory I prefer" would seem to be preferred by approximately 1/2 of Canadians.... So why has the media coverage been so slanted??"

    Indeed. But my point still stands.

    I believe the original quote was in response to your claim that the media was not doing its job by giving credence to the idea that the mandatory census could be effectively replaced by a voluntary one.

    Now whether this position was popular or not does not matter. (I could have said, "the public" in place of "you") It was inaccurate. Ergo the media was doing its job.

    It was mentioned, but there wasn't anybody outside of the government who was willing to back it. The media can't and shouldn't manufacture balance in facts by trying to find somebody who would back an untrue position, even were it a popular one.

    As to whether the media had fulfilled it's job by determining if the public was really uncomfortable with the census; they did quote the government's claims, and they did check to see if there had been complaints. (There had been almost none made to the authorities) A poll has only now been released showing a split, though a majority accepting the reasonableness of the intrusion.

    Even a different poll wouldn't change anything. Certainly not the facts about statistics, the opinions of people who make or utilize the census, or the government's reasons. How relevant is the rest of the public's opinion to members of the public?

    Bottom line; the media's reporting has been based upon the facts that exist and are available, not about the elusive balance between arguments. It's a good thing too.

  43. This is yet another example of Harper making a issue where there wasn't one. And this Census issue is going to bite him and will permanently harm the CPC cause as long as Harper is leader. It is one of a thousands cuts but this one is much deeper. The wrong thing at the time. Stupid!

    This man has an extraordinary ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory because he's thinks he's smarter than he is.

    Rather Iggy floundering on his bus tour this summer all the media can talk about is Harper's blunder over the Census! STUPID!!!!

  44. Earl,

    I couldn't have put it better myself.

    Unfortunately for this Prime Minister -- and damned fortunate for my fellow Liberals, the PM has always been our ace in the hole.

    Comforting thought that.

  45. Earl did you not notice that during this entire week in which the census issue has been raging Harper has gone up in the polls by 0.8%?

    So much for "permanent harm".

    So much for "an extraordinary ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory".

    Who knows if Harper thinks he's smarter than he is. That's a bizzare and rather meaningless statement.

    I imagine Harper is a very intelligent man with a very intelligent team around him. And I imagine that whatever motive he had for getting rid of the census he knows exactly what he's doing.

    Just like prorogation let him gain control of the senate I imagine there is an ulterior motive at play here too.

    As for the media narrative having Ignatieff being completely ignored is a GOOD thing. Why help a guy get media coverage ?

    Meanwhile the largest military purchase in Canadian history has been announced and NOBODY is talking about it.

    So he sucks all the oxygen out Ignatieff's tour, gets the F-35's announced, and has a winning issue in which half the country is backing him up.

    50% in the polls would be a massive majority Earl. This is a vote winner for him.

    Time to start listening to average Canadians instead of the elite media echo chamber.

  46. I work in an aircraft hanger, and lets just say that regular people are not talking about the Census. And frankly most won't care in either direction it goes.

    But what we did talk about was the Eco-fee here in Ontario, because it hurt us in our pocketbooks.

    The importance of the illustration is that the electorate will pay attention when you do or say something that affects their day to day lives (such as the price of goods, roads, and school).

    The census issue, only affects the 1% of 1% who are enthusiastically interested to debate politics. But come election day, the census will have no effect to move the electorate in either direction.

  47. wow. an AR poll has 70% of Canadians wanting to elect senators.

    People moving to Harper's POV.

    49% get rid of mandatory long census.

    70% elected senators.

    A lot of NDP/Liberals/Greens/Bloc on board with the hidden agenda

  48. The most fascinating aspect of this story is the disconnect between the alleged concern for privacy and the complete lack of regard most people actually show for privacy in their lives. Vast databases exist on a very large number of people, including details of their family status, credit history, past addresses, consumer preferences and what not and most people never think to question it.

    It is all made possible by the lax use of identifiers like your SIN. It does not reside in secure government files, but in notoriously insecure and porous corporate computers that seem to be hacked every other week.

    Is the long form an intrusion? Of course, albeit a very small one relative to other intrusions that we scarcely think about. Intrusions are an inevitable consequence of living in groups. Is it an acceptable intrusion? By any measure.

    The alternatives to gathering information in this manner are pretty few and either less reliable, more intrusive or more expensive.

    We can try living without the information, which will make for a whole range of planning and administration problems that are too many and varied to write about in this forum.

    We can adopt the unitary database approach used in places like the Scandanavian countries. That would require a level of daily intrusiveness and regulation far beyond the standard of the census that is considered reasonable in Sweden but would drive the average Alberta Conservative to apoplexy.

    It would also create a single database for all of the information that is no scattered across various levels and departments of government with significant legal firewalls limiting sharing. The risk to privacy this would engender would be considerably greater than a questionnaire administered at random a couple of times during a person's lifetime. I recently crested the hill into senior country and have been required to fill in a long form exactly once in my life. No big deal.

    The idea put forward by the buffoons at the charitable-tax-avoidance-receipt-issuing Fraser Institute that this information could be collected by commercial pollsters misses the point that it would become next to impossible to stratify polling samples reliably without something like these data.

    I cannot buy a home without publicly registering the deed with the relevant mortgage details. I cannot own a firearm without answering questions about my mental health history and any recent romantic failures. I cannot refuse a request from CRA to provide full details of my income and marital status. I may not drive without answering truthfully about certain medical conditions. What possible difference does it make that one of my civic responsibilities is providing a very occasional summary of this sort of stuff to aid the business of running the country?

  49. If this is an attempt of the CPC to appeal to their base, they've chosen an odd time to start doing that (I can't point to a single other example), and they've grossly misidentified their base, which is probably way more annoyed with their overspending.

  50. "Shadow, a "decline to answer" or "I don't know" box would have been another good compromise."

    Not really, because you'd still have the problem with selection bias. Basically, for the long-form census to be of any value it needs to be mandatory. Otherwise, you might as well scrap it.

    On that note, though, there was an interesting piece in one of the papers today or yesterday about the Scandinavian countries (those bastions of right-wing Libertarianism) who have largely scrapped the census since the 1970. It seems, based on their experience, that a census isn't as neccesary to the formation of good public policy as has been suggested.

    One wonders why the government doesn't seem to knot about their experience and certainly hasn't trotted those examples out in their defense.

  51. Having a wonderful morning.... coffee, watching a little rain come down :)

    And equality coming to Canada soon:

  52. Personally, I'm a little ambivalent to that particular issue. But I wonder if, politically, it is not a misstep. I don't think it will gain them any support, but it could hurt them among minorities, which is one of the demographic groups the Conservatives need.

  53. Carl said..."the Scandinavian countries (those bastions of right-wing Libertarianism) who have largely scrapped the census since the 1970. It seems... ...that a census isn't as neccesary to the formation of good public policy"

    The Scandanavian model would certainly work here too, but it would involve a degree of intrusion far beyond having to answer 50 questions once or twice in your lifetime. In order to make their system work they have instituted a personal identification number that follows a person from birth to death. Every transaction you have with government is tracked through that number, generating an enormous, detailed database on every citizen.

    If you move you must update your address with the registry in a timely fashion or suffer legally mandated penalties. Given the opposition to registering firearms in this country, I have a hard time believing that a system requiring every person to register everything about themselves with a national authority is going to generate anything but outrage. The Scandanavian system would be more intrusive and erode privacy far beyond anything in the Canadian model.

    Just out of curiosity, how many of those objecting to the intrusiveness of the census are also against community video surveillance and broader police powers for intercepting personal communications in the interests of national security?

  54. As others have stated, the European answer is a privacy concerned persons nightmare. I am positive Harper wants to do the merger of databases though as it is the logical next step.

    1) Make current census useless (non-mandatory) thus create a crisis

    2) Propose 'solution' in joining all federal databases with provincial and municipal ones thus providing gov't with tons of data they otherwise would never get that would be traceable to individuals, unlike the census.

    3) CPC now has access to tons of data, make it limited in access to all others (especially opposition parties - see all requests for info since CPC took power), stay in power forever thanks to drastic increase in knowledge about Joe Voter, and drop in election turnout thanks to peoples disgust and distrust of government skyrocketing which helps the party that proposes to reduce gov't (even if they only increased it in size since taking power).

    Of course, this would be a non-issue if the average voter actually paid attention and didn't just vote for labels (the old 'you could run a goat in Toronto and win if you are a Liberal, or a dog in Alberta and win if it is a CPC' thing).

    In one respect I'd love to see the CPC announce it will keep increasing spending at 3+ times inflation while skyrocketing taxes (the hidden ones like payroll taxes) just to see how they'd be defended by the National Post and how their base would still go out to vote for them via saying 'the Liberals would be worse'.

    It is weird. CPC is about to skyrocket payroll taxes by 35%, the Liberals while in power chopped health care by 33% and both bases are/were 100% ignorant of it or just said 'the other guys would be worse'. Sad statement for democracy.

  55. I suppose it is possible that it could hurt them among minorities.

    But I do here some people talk about the affirmative action policys in the context of it being condescending to them that they might need something like that to get a job... that their qualifications alone aren't good enough.

    Of course that is the ones that are qualified too tho.

    I do recognize that there is some racism out there still that might prevent minorities from getting jobs. And its true that some segments of the population do need a helping hand.

    But on the other hand they do have to want it too. My friend was denied a job with me one year. He was the next on the list to be hired, but all the jobs had been filled. Except for the 2 minority positions. Which were filled 3 times that summer. The 3rd time, one showed up. At the end of the summer working outdoors... I was dark enough to be a full blooded native.... and she was still pasty white (and ruby red if she missed with sunscreen every 2 hours). She was 1/16th... the level she needed to get the job. And maybe the whitest person I had ever seen. I don't know why she would have needed to take a minority job to get a job. The other position went unfilled as none of the other 5 people hired ever showed up.

    I don't particularly like the idea of race based hiring either... Is making it about race the best way to reduce people thinking about race and therefore racism? Can you really offer something to an identifiable group and not expect other groups to jump up and ask why they didn't get the same?

    I just don't think you can end the "you're different" frame of mind by creating more differences....

  56. Do people really understand that they are arguing about the value of data collected every 5 years?

    The current census data was collected in 2006.

    The GST was 7%. Harper had just been elected PM. Ignatieff had just come back to Canada and Dion beat him in the Leadership race.

    Government were running huge surpluses and paying down the accumulated debt. There never would be a deficit budget.

    Ontario was a have province and NL and Sask were have nots.

    Quebec was complaining about a fiscal unbalance.... (well some things never change)

    In 2006 the economy was booming, we were worried about over-employment and inflation.

    House prices in the States/ Vancouver/ Calgary and Toronto were doubling every 2-3 years and there was no way anyone could lose money in Real estate.

    Canadians were okay about signing Kyoto and doing nothing about it. Europe started its downward financial death spiral by setting up a cap and trade system. Al Gore was winning Nobel prizes and academy awards (Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006) and if Hillary did not want to be president Al Gore could be. We didn't know that the climate industry was making up statistics and any one who disagreed with them were lying. It was a settled science!!

    There was no thought that there would be a world wide global depression and many huge banks would become insolvent and bailed out by governments.

    The auto companies provided secure save jobs and had absolutely no chance of failure.

    Now you are telling me (Stats Canada and its blind supporters) that the country can't function without the census data gathered in 2006?


    The 2011 long form information will be obsolete by the time it is published.

    Harper is absolutely wrong in making the long form voluntary. He should get rid of the census altogether and save the tax payers 600 million dollars.

    The count of people can be done through income tax data

  57. "Just out of curiosity, how many of those objecting to the intrusiveness of the census are also against community video surveillance and broader police powers for intercepting personal communications in the interests of national security?"

    I don't have a problem with the targeted surveillance of persons identified as a risk to the community.

    There is a difference between demanding information under penalty of fines and prison just because you want it.... and watching a few people who are deemed to probably be troublemakers to make the streets safer.

  58. "In one respect I'd love to see the CPC announce it will keep increasing spending at 3+ times inflation while skyrocketing taxes (the hidden ones like payroll taxes) just to see how they'd be defended by the National Post and how their base would still go out to vote for them via saying 'the Liberals would be worse'."

    .... last time when Mulroney did it they were defended into splintering into 3 different parties....

    "both bases are/were 100% ignorant of it or just said 'the other guys would be worse'. Sad statement for democracy."

    Please to explain how they would be better... The coalition for example is complaining about how much the government spent on stimulus and now we have more debt... conveniently forgetting that Layton/Dion promised to do the same amount that Harper spent "as a start"

    The liberals have for years been pushing the hidden agenda theme on the tories, one such might be the Youth criminal justice act, the tories would be much tougher on criminals.

    In other words.... to the base core there is alot of issues (not just the 2 you picked. And I like others in all the base camps; are willing to swallow a couple things if more of the things I believe in were to happen. The obvious alternative is to swallow a whole bunch of things so that only a few happen...

    There is very few single issues that succeed in determining direction.

  59. (I am sorry Eric, I know I am getting to many posts in a row here,.. last one for a bit)

    I was wondering tho John_Northey... if you would reconcile for me the assertion at the bottom of your last post.

    Specifically "The other guys are worse, and I have the intuition to prove that what they will do is worse" or something to that effect

    With the assertions at the beginning of your post. Specifically "Harper is worse, he will make the census unusable, then pass laws that will bring all the government databases together while simultaneously making them unavailable to any party but his"

    That just seems like the "fear and smear the other guys are worse" type of talk you were trying to call out....

  60. John_Northey please pick a better example than the CPC raising EI premiums.

    That's a self sustaining program who's coffers are running low because the Liberals/NDP forced increased unemployment benefits under threat of an election.

    We just went through a recession, plus we topped up benefits to an unusual degree, so now the thing needs to be filled up again for the next recession.

    I honestly don't call that a tax increase.

    The courts have put a firewall around the program. The Liberals are not allowed to break the law and raid it for general revenue like they did in the 90's.

    Its a non-voluntary fee.

    If it were going into general revenue then yes, i'd call it a tax increase and be upset with it.

  61. I agree with DL that 30mil is a waste, but not compared to the 16b for planes nobody asked for, 9 b for jails nobody wants, 1 b for a 3 day conference for G8/20 and 15b/year in tax breaks for business and the wealthy. This government is the most fiscally irresponsible of all time

  62. Eric,

    I'm not sure that opposing affirmative action will hurt the Tories with minorities.

    First, no one thinks that they're only being hired because of their race. That it may or may not be true is beside the point, people don't like to believe that. So, so long as the Tories are saying they're not going to support exclusively race-based hiring, their is probably not going to much blowback except amongst hardened activists (who, lets face it, aren't exactly a target tory constituency).

    Second, not all "minorities" are likely to be in favour of race-based hiring. Asian Canadians are probabbly aware of the tendency in places like California to use affirmative action against Asian Americans (for example, for many years, admission standards at places like Stanford were significantly higher than for white or black candidates, in order to ensure that Asians weren't "over" represented - which they would be if admitted solely on merit). Similarly, Canadians of East-Indian descent are likely familiar with the disaster that has been caste-based affirmative action in India.

    Finally, the mechanics of affirmative action are such the people who "feel" like that they've been hurt by it will far exceed the people who actually benefit from it. So, let's say the government posts a job posting which explicitly provides that only minorities will be considered. Who feels like they benefit from that? Well, the one minority guy who they hire. Who feels like they've been hurt by that? The dozens or hundreds of people who read the ad who might have applied but couldn't. Of course, in fact, at most only one of those people was really hurt (assuming that they would otherwise have been hired over the minority candidate who was hired, which may not be the case), but of course, each person thinks they would have been that one person, so they all feel wronged. Inherently, the upside of opposing affirmative action will always be greater than the downside.

    At the end of the day, affirmative action is a great wedge issue for the Tories and they're right to run with it. I gather Iggy is showing his usual tin-ear for politics and is coming out swinging against the Tory plan. You can almost see the Tory-attack ads in the next election interposing MLK's "contents of your character" speech with clips of Iggy supporting race-based hiring.

    Of course, what makes the whole issue that much dumber is that the barrier to hiring visible minorities in the fedeal service is official bilingualism and the fact that much of the civil service is located in Ottawa. Affirmative action doesn't deal with that. While bilingualism amongst visible minorities is the same as it is for other anglophones, that misses the point that bilingualism amongst anglophones is abysmal. As a result, francophones are heavily over-represented in the federal civil service (by a factor of 50%). And Canada's francophone population is decidedly more "white" than Canada's anglophone population. Toss into that the fact that Canada's visible minority populations are disproportionately located in places like Vancouver, Calgary, Tornto and Montreal, while the civil service is not, and it's easy to see why "minorities" are under-represented in the civil service. What's hard to see is why anyone thinks affirmative action will resolve the problem.

  63. Barcs said... "There is a difference between demanding information under penalty of fines and prison just because you want it.... and watching a few people who are deemed to probably be troublemakers to make the streets safer."

    This is true, but irrelevant to the question I asked on two counts. In the first place, the census is not done just for fun. It is a gross trivialisation of the issue to suggest that it is.

    As well, the targeting of identified individuals for whom enough evidence of risk exists to secure a warrant from a JP is old school. The use of public video surveillance and broader powers to intercept communications have been proposed by various commentators and ideologues as defensible intrusions with rhetoric that comes down to "what are you afraid of if you have nothing to hide." I suspect there is a great deal of overlap between those folks and those howling loudest about the intrusiveness of the census.

    BC Voice of Reason wrote: "Do people really understand that they are arguing about the value of data collected every 5 years?"

    Of course, with the caveat that in would be extremely unlikely that any person would find themselves asked to complete the long form twice in 5 years. I've had to do it once in my entire life.

    and: "The current census data was collected in 2006."


    and: a whole lot of points about circumstances in 2006 concluding with "Now you are telling me (Stats Canada and its blind supporters) that the country can't function without the census data gathered in 2006?"

    That's an odd way of characterising the debate that seems primarily an attempt to trivialise the arguments of those who oppose the government position. The point of a census is to capture the status of the coutry and its people at a point in time. This done for a number of reasons, one of the most important of which is to compare circumstances among time periods and identify trends.

    and: "The 2011 long form information will be obsolete by the time it is published."

    This is simply untrue.

    and: "The count of people can be done through income tax data"

    For a variety of reasons, this is enitely incorrect. As currently configured, the income tax system could not, on its own, provide even the most basic information provided by a census. Nor would it be lawful for it to be used that way.

  64. "In the first place, the census is not done just for fun. It is a gross trivialization of the issue to suggest that it is."

    I didn't say it was just for fun. I said the government collected the info, just cus they wanted it. I don't really care why they decided they want it. They are doing it because they want it.

    "what are you afraid of if you have nothing to hide."

    Not a fan of that argument either. Tho there is some substance to it. It is often used on all political sides tho to try and goad the persons involved into various things. For example the census.... "Why are you afraid of the long form and the government if you have nothing to hide" has been used several times recently.

    One example I think it was shadow gave was during wartime all of a sudden ethnicity was used to round up people to keep them from internal sabotage...

    So the question maybe should be.... What haven't I been hiding that maybe I should be??

    The do not call list is a good example of government mismanagement of info. Today it is a do not hesitate to call list... and my name is not on it.

    Unregistered guns even tho I have a license? How about the number of bedrooms in my house? Will one of Kyoto's successor treaties decide to tax me on that?

    How about during my business. only 55% or so of durum will be sold this year... Do I tell the truth to the CWB when I sign a contract? Or should I lie and say I have more than I do and try to get more of my grain sold?

    If I tell them I do hours of unpaid work... are they going to pay me? Or find a way to tax it based on the fact that it might be under the table paid work... like tips? Should you record the whole amount you get? Or hide it and not pay taxes on it?

    Should I spend alot of time telling them about my work? Will it increase the help the business gets?? Or might it make it easier to target unfashionable industries?? provide incentives to move in more fashionable ones?

    "Yes, major repairs are needed (defective plumbing
    or electrical wiring, structural repairs to walls, floors
    or ceilings, etc.)" huh? Do you really want me to answer with that multiple choice? "No my house isn't safe,.. would you come remove me from it??" sure.

    Would I want a renter telling people what the rent is? Would it result in rent controls and destroy the rental income??

    What is my income in a year.... if I have more than one dwelling/cabin, etc will the taxes go up on whatever group I am in as opposed to others? Income supplements thresholds be moved down?

    There is all kinds of information that can be useful... and all kinds that can damage you....

    So yeah... not "what are you afraid of if you have nothing to hide?"".....its what should I be hiding that I haven't been?".....

  65. Wow, mentioning that the CPC is about to jump the most regressive taxes we've got (EI) by 35% really does get under conservative skins doesn't it?

    EI has collected over $50 billion more than it has spent. The CPC decided that any balance pre-them was general revenue and not to be factored in. Since then only last year had a deficit, all other years were surpluses. Yet, somehow, that one bad year - in a recession they claim is over - justifies skyrocketing it at a rate more than 15 times the inflation rate. Think about it - how crazy is that?

    But of course, it is the fault of those opposition parties who forced - FORCED - the sitting government to increase payments and put us into deficit etc., etc., etc. Naturally, any recover is 100% the CPC's doing while any negatives are 100% what they were forced to do right?

    Sheesh. Btw, before Harper decided that Quebec was a nation inside Canada and various other non-conservative things I was a regular PC/Reform/Alliance (depending on situation) voter. Now I'm voting Green as payroll taxes hit the poorest the hardest and hit the economy hardest too - the dumbest taxes possible and those are the ones the CPC will increase.

    Stupid, stupid Harper creature.


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