Liberal MP says census controversy shows Conservatives sliding toward “tyranny”

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      A Liberal MP from Vancouver has said the Conservative government’s move to scrap the mandatory long-form census and make it voluntary is “definitely part of a pattern that is very bad for democracy and bad for Canada”.

      “This is also part of the pattern of trying to control the independent agencies and offices of Parliament that are the oversight to government and are a very important part of our democracy,” Joyce Murray, the MP for Vancouver Quadra, told the Straight by phone today (July 22). “Having those neutral agencies and voices to be able to speak to Canadians is a very important [part of] governance. And that is what separates a government from a tyranny.”

      On July 21, Canada’s chief statistician, Munir Sheikh, resigned over the move and fired off a parting letter claiming a voluntary survey cannot replace the mandatory questionnaire.

      “It is highly unusual,” Murray said of Sheikh’s resignation. “I take it as a very strong indication that the minister [Tony Clement] has not been telling the truth on this issue. The minister has been saying one thing and then a well-paid and respected civil servant publicly resigns. That tells you that the minister has not been telling the truth. But there has been a pattern of intimidation and retaliation. We have a list of probably two dozen high-level civil servants.”

      Murray cited the 2008 firing of Linda Keen as head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission as an example.

      Charlie Angus, the NDP for Timmins-James Bay in Ontario, told the Straight the census controversy is a “completely manufactured crisis”.

      “You see this attack on the census very much in the American right,” Angus said. “It has had no traction here in Canada as far as I can see. I’ve never had a complaint and never heard of this as an issue. Then, when the Conservatives started getting some major pushback from the banks and from academics, the provinces, and the municipalities, they sent out their attack dogs. When you put [Stephen Harper’s spokersperson] Dimitri Soudas and [Nepean-Carleton Conservative MP] Pierre Poilievre on a file, you can expect that serious trashing is going to happen.”

      The Straight left a message for Poilievre, who didn’t respond today.

      Asked if he thinks the Conservative government is moving toward tyranny, Angus said, “I think what is worrying is that this is a government that is trying to lead the slide, but I don’t think the Canadian public are going there. I’ve never gone into a Tim Hortons in Canada and had someone rail at me about big bad government spying on them with the census, but I am hearing this from Conservative cabinet ministers. I think the public is shaking its head.”

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      Jul 22, 2010 at 6:27pm

      OK..let me get this straight....

      A Liberal from BC is criticizing another party for doing somethings that is "bad for democracy".

      Can we add Joyce Murray to the list of people to e recalled?

      The irony is so think I can barely breath.

      HST anyone? Not listening to the will of the people? getting your rich friends to sue the anti-hst campiagn?!

      3 3Rating: 0

      David Dickinson

      Jul 22, 2010 at 6:29pm

      What a load of nonsense. There will still be a census in 2011. What will be different this time: those who object to answering 60 pages of questions beyond the basic will no longer be threatened with jail. Is that tyranny? No. For the genealogists who follow in 100 years, they will have nearly the same information that has been available to family and researchers (in fact more than in the early decades). Questions asked on the current long form will still be answered. There is nothing to fear (and perhaps fewer Jedi Warriors).

      2 6Rating: -4


      Jul 22, 2010 at 6:40pm

      Tyranny does Joyce Murray know what the word means.......Harper is know more a tyrant than she is!!!
      It is not bad for Canada, StatsCan should be voluntary, we don't want the gov't in our business as a taxpayer.


      3 4Rating: -1


      Jul 22, 2010 at 6:47pm

      A liberal MP you say? I'm shocked I tell you! Shocked!

      3 4Rating: -1


      Jul 22, 2010 at 7:09pm

      Really? How does giving people more freedom of choice translate to tyranny? Perhaps if they made the long form mandatory for all it would be.

      5 3Rating: +2

      Mike Fraser

      Jul 22, 2010 at 7:09pm



      4 6Rating: -2


      Jul 22, 2010 at 7:22pm

      it's "tyranny" and "bad for democracy" only when it fits her political agenda.

      yet she doesn't question herself about how she helped ram through the HST on the federal side despite nobody ever voting for it and massive opposition to it.

      6 4Rating: +2

      Sean McCormick

      Jul 22, 2010 at 7:30pm

      A government giving its citizens freedom of choice is now considered tyrannical? I thought a government removing freedom of choice constituted tyranny. How times have changed. If this is tyranny, please, sir, I want some more.

      6 5Rating: +1


      Jul 22, 2010 at 7:35pm

      I was forced to fill out the long census years ago. When I didn't send it in, I was threatened with a fine and/or jail. I thought, some free country this is. I am with the Conservatives on this.

      7 6Rating: +1

      Mike Fraser

      Jul 22, 2010 at 7:36pm

      Hmmm, mysteriously, no one has any comment on this???

      2 4Rating: -2