A couple years ago I reviewed a book about Canada’s then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Among other things, I wrote:
Then there are Harper’s moves that just seem outright slimy, like getting rid of the long-form census and generally gutting Statistics Canada. Again, this seems to be part of a pattern: if you remove the fundamental tools underlying the welfare state, including its financing and its means of measuring the populace, then there are questions you just never think of asking. If you stop measuring the same people over time, for instance, it’s harder to say that income mobility has gone down.
Gutting the collection of official statistics is right out of the U.S. GOP’s playbook. Wells touches on this a little bit, but perhaps not as much as I’d like. Is Canadian conservatism very similar to its American cousin? Wells is more focused on Harper the man, and on the details of Ottawa politics, so The Longer I’m Prime Minister has more to say about the politics than about these broader questions.
Well look what we have here!
Canada’s long-form census, known as the National Household Survey, was made optional by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s conservative government back in 2010. As a result, participation in the NHS plummeted from 93.5 percent in 2006, to 68.6 percent four years later. “Voluntary surveys are simply a waste of money,” Munir Sheikh, Statistics Canada’s chief statistician who resigned over the switch, told CityLab last year. “[They] cannot provide you the kind of accurate information that you need to make your policy decisions.”