Liberals, NDP demand "emergency debate" on long form census
With all the fervour surrounding the Conservative Party's decision to transform Canada's mandatory long-form census into a voluntary long-form census, the opposition has decided that the matter is quite the emergency.
In fact, they're calling for an emergency debate in the House of Commons.
NDP leader Jack Layton accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of an ideological opposition to the kind of government action information from the long form census has supported.
"Mr Harper doesn't believe in government action so he would prefer not to see the facts about what's going on in Canada," Layton insisted. "I think that's the more sinister dimension of this pigheaded approach they're taking."
Liberal deputy leader Bob Rae echoed Layton's sentiments.
“When the fish rots, it rots from the head,” Rae remarked. “It’s very, very clear that this is a problem with Mr Harper. This is a problem with the way Mr Harper’s government conducts itself, it’s the way its staff conduct themselves. And it’s the way they talk to the Canadian people.”
Layton's solution to the issue seems to hinge on eliminating any jail time for anyone who declines to fill out the mandatory long-form census -- he considers this a compromise, one that the opposition is prepared to pass quickly.
Industry Minister Tony Clement has rejected this as a reasonable compromise. He doesn't believe that any sanction should be applied to those who decline to fill out the long-form census.
In the end, that is half of what this issue will ultimately be about.
The other half is about what Canadians think the role of the government should be, and how much information they think the government needs in order to fulfill that role.
In other words, this is about Canadians putting their money where the opposition's mouth is.
If Canadians agree that the government needs the information contained in the long-form census, they will fill out the forms. If Canadians don't think the government needs such information, they won't.
It really is that simple.
This particularly applies to efforts such as that by the Federation de Communautes Francophones et Acadiennes, a group suing the federal government over its decision to change the long-form census, as well as for the other minority groups declaring that information contained in the long-form census is especially important to them.
Perhaps the idea that giving Canadians this power to shape the size and role of government seems a little too democratic to the opposition. The FCFA have evidently decided that such democracy is equally inconvenient for them.
Of course, the elimination of government means to coerce Canadians into providing information they may think the government doesn't need may be seen as an emergency by the would-be social engineers in the Liberal Party and the NDP.
Other Canadians likely will not agree.