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

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.”

Comments (46) Add New Comment
Wait
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?!
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David Dickinson
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).
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Lyndie
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.

GO HARPER GO
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Aongasha
A liberal MP you say? I'm shocked I tell you! Shocked!
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fromHamilton
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.
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Mike Fraser
THEY ARE SENDING SOLDIERS, INTO THE CITIES, IN CANADA, I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP.

WHAT"S NEXT, MASS GRAVES -- WHY ELSE WOULD THEY BE DIGGING THOSE BIG HOLES IN THE OILSANDS!!!
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tim.
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.

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Sean McCormick
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.
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Harry98
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.
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Mike Fraser
Hmmm, mysteriously, no one has any comment on this???
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Nola Crewe
"Mandatory" = conservative tyranny
"Voluntary" = liberal democracy

I think Joyce has gotten her politics bass ackward ..!!!
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steve glower
Ya, I agree that they should leave the census alone but Liberal hyperbole about "Conservative government moving towards tyranny" is exactly why nobody in Canada can take them seriously at the moment. The liberals don't need to say that Harper has a hidden agenda, is dictatorial, etc. etc, all they need to do is say he is not a good leader. He put the G20 in Toronto, we'd put it in Edmonton, he wants to make the census non-mandatory, we want to reform it so it only asks the most important and useful information. We'll get rid of the penny. We'll get rid of non-biodegradeable plastic bags, etc etc. Things Canadians can get behind. Build a platform in this way. Demagoguery is useless and does not convince Canadians like it does our American cousins.
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Jay A
May Canadians across the land rise in revolt and demand they too be forced to fill out a long form census.
Please let us have an election on this issue.
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ND
I suggest you email her directly if you think her "bad for democracy" comments seem ironic considering how the HST has been handled by the liberals.

Murraj1@parl.gc.ca
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We're all doomed without the census!
Best laugh I've had all week. Thank you Joyce Murray for the side splitting comments.

From 1933 to 1939 Adolph Hitler achieved power almost uncontested. Surely it must have been the lack of a long form census among the German populous that elevated him to his tyrannical ransacking of Europe.

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an MP is not an MLA
MP means member of parliament. In other words she is a federal liberal not a B.C.Liberal - which would be an MLA. The B.C.Liberals are right wing neocons that share Harpers psycho agenda yes.

The federal liberals have their flaws but they shine next to Gordon Campbell et al.

Try to ask yourself why a right wing government would not want certain questions asked about income, family size,... what do the answers indicate?
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Department of Redundancy
Munir Sheikh, resigned over the move and fired off a parting letter claiming a voluntary survey cannot replace the mandatory questionnaire.
..................................................................................................
Mr.Sheikh and his 6000 StatsCan workers need a rude awakening.

This is 2010,the age of computers and polling companies.
These questions can be asked and gotten quickly within an error of margin 2.5%,19 times out of 20.

How many toilets do I own?

Ask me,don't tell me.
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Foxxe
@Wait
How right you are! Let's face it a certain man 200 years ago summed it all up quite well... "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." - John Adams. Yeah it's american but truth is truth no matter what.
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Glen_G
Let me get this straight. She thinks that LESS government intrusion into peoples personal business will lead to tyranny? Does she know what tyranny is? Does she realize that these long form census forms are the tool of a tyrannical government?
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JRad
Getting rid of the long form census?

Tyranny? Not at all.

Stupid? Completely. Voluntary statistics are pointless.
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