Populism once more rears its ugly head in Canada
Maxime Bernier, conservative backbencher, has claimed that he received "thousands" of complaints from Canadian citizens concerning the intrusiveness of the long form census back in 2006 when he was industry minister.
However, a CBC follow up has revealed that - untransparently - the truth may not have been well served by M. Bernier and his anti-long form Conservative supporters. The actually number of complaints generated by the 2006 census was not "thousands" but just under a thousand, of which an impressive twenty-two were complaints about census question "intrusiveness" - 22 ! And for twenty-two complaints we scrap the long form - at high cost to the taxpayer, while reducing the - internationally recognized - effectiveness of the government's data collection capacity. Incredible! - but why would any party - especially one so committed to "cutting fat" and waste - deliberately waste taxpayer money to reduce the effectiveness of a well-run government program??
Is that an ideological rat we smell?
As is so often the case with this curiously untransparent government - which ran on a platform of transparency - one suspects that the truth lies deeper than appearences. The message conveyed by Conservative MPs is that Canadian citizens' "freedoms" are being trampled on and they didn't like it.
But whose freedoms exactly? The twenty two people who actually did complain about the long form census questions' intrusiveness? Or, perhaps more pertinently, those groups receiving funding and who depend upon accurate sociological data to determine funding levels? Little groups (linguistic minorities..), disenfranchised groups, municipalities (especially smaller and rural ones - ironically just the folk who tend to vote Conservative!)..? Politically expendable groups..?
One suspects that we have another case here of our neocon wanabe government playing the populist card to its hard core voter base. Whip up the angst and /or ire of the rednecks against convenient scapegoat groups to win the cheap vote..
No policy, no program, no political vision, philosophy or thinking required but instead the easy recourse to the basest, lowest common demoninator; scapegoat bashing: "artists", "intellectuals", "elites" (unspecified), "peaceniks", "baby killers", "atheists", "tree huggers",..
It's a low blow but, hey, politics is a dirty game.. even for those who promised us "transparency", "responsible government", "law and order", and even "justice" (apparently this does not include "social justice" since the long form census provided data required by government programs providing a measure of social justice and equity..)