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On the Other Hand

What a relief to have the mandatory long-form census back this spring after being tossed out by the Harper Government in 2010.

Statistics Canada because of its consistent collection methodology over the years is the envy of the world.  Our government has the best data to use when developing public policy or distributing billions of dollars to provinces and communities.  The better the data, the better the needs of Canadians can be met.

Businesses also use the valuable source of information for all sorts of things, including whether a community is right for a new business.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s argument was governments couldn’t be trusted with your information. Quite ironic given that far too many Canadians indiscriminately give away valuable personal information daily to strangers.

If you’re posting on Facebook, your life is an open book to everyone including potential employers and fraudsters.  Cell phones, baby monitors, smart TVs allow people inside your homes either through hacking or receivers outside the home that can pick up wireless channels.  Every time a loyalty card is used or a smart phone coupon is accessed, we volunteer our personal spending habits to retail corporations. When we put our name into draws at shows or fairs, we give away at a minimum our name and phone number, but often our address and e-mail address as well.  Too much twitting and posting on Facebook often tells everybody you’re not home, including thieves.

The previous Conservative Government preferred to base public policy on ideology rather than facts. So the efficient, consistent, unbiased collector of data, Stats Canada, got in the way.

Without good quality data, governments can pick and choose private companies to give them the data they want to support their ideology, rather than the needs of all Canadians.

In Harper’s 2011 census there were about a thousand communities where no data could be released because of the insignificant number of people responding to the survey. Statistically the data was unreliable and for the first time ever, our statistics as a nation were incomplete.

Giving away your information to government not only benefits you, your community, but also generations that follow you.  Giving away your information freely to strangers and corporations is where we need to become smarter. Corporations and strangers are the ones who are not working on your behalf.

Statistics is a science. It can be manipulated in many ways as pollsters, think tanks and political parties do all the time.  But Stats Canada, using proper methodology, including the mandatory census forms, operates as a science which in turn benefits all Canadians today and into the future.

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