WHEN THE PARIS mob kicked off the French Revolution by storming the infamous Bastille prison, there was only one inmate left to liberate.
But thatís one more person than Canada has ever jailed for not doing a mandatory census.
An awkward fact for the Harper governmentís census counter-revolution is that Canada has no prisoners of census conscience. Never has had any. You can bet it never will.
So to anyone with a sense of proportion, the Toriesí heroic self-image of saving Canadians from oppression by making the "intrusive" long-form census voluntary just doesnít square with reality.
But Industry Minister Tony Clement isnít conceding the non-existence of incarcerated census objectors. Testifying at a Commons committee Tuesday, Mr. Clement repeatedly evaded the question when asked if anyone has been jailed. Retired chief statistician Ivan Fellegi later did supply a factual answer: No.
Mr. Clement stuck to a rehash of anecdote and politics in defence of a decision that will reduce the reliability of the census used as a benchmark for all other surveys. He says new Canadians have been reduced to tears by the fear of being deported for non-compliance. He objects to people being asked if their homes have loose floor tiles or defective steps.
Are immigrants really cowering in fear? Mr. Clement says so. But last week he said he had the support of his senior officials, including Chief Statistician Munir Sheikh, for making the long form voluntary. It wasnít so: Mr. Sheikh immediately resigned to make the point that StatsCan did not recommend a voluntary census that will degrade the data. Continued...