Stephen Harper’s Gamble
Dr. Bill Stanbury — a regular contributor to the Hill Times, professor emeritus at UBC, economist and self-described as centre-right — has urged me to work with him to compile a list of every organization who has taken a public stand on opposing the government’s decision to ax the census long-form questionnaire, and replace it with a voluntary household survey.
Early on Tuesday July 20, putting our heads together produced a list of 55 organizations or individual subsidiary levels of government. We will add to this list in the next 24 hours.
It occurred to me, in the interests of fair play, we should start collecting the list of organizations that support the goverrment’s decision too.
Alas, the list is, relatively-speaking, short.
The Fraser Institute.
Plus some columnists.
Lorne Gunther and Ezra Levant, both writing for the National Post.
Iâ€™d say â€œnatchâ€, but one canâ€™t write the Post off, because they have also published two strong (and one very funny) piece from Kelly McParland (online, not print edition) and Tasha Kheirridin (in print) against the governmentâ€™s position there too.
I don’t think a single national or local newspaper editorial has supported the position, but I could be wrong. Post a comment, let us all know.
The government is gambling on very long odds that they can parlay this into a Tea-Party like mutiny of People vs. The State.
This is possible in the U.S., because there the context of dissent is rooted, today and historically, in an anti-government stance. In Canada, Stephen Harper and his cabinet are the most vocal promoters of this way of thinking, as I’ve mentioned here before.
If you search “census” and “privacy” on the same search line on youtube, you can see where Harper’s team is getting its talking points from. Maybe our government is being advised by ex Bush-government operatchiks, or more slick consultants from the class of perma-mad right-wing nutbars who seem to find such fertile ground in the Land of Freedom.
Harper’s gamble may pay off, but they have disaffected parts of their own core base, including generation-long Conservatives who would never vote Liberal, NDP, Bloc or Green.
So to place all your bargaining chips on the odds that you can create a counter-groundswell seems a tad optimistic.
After all, organizing libertarians and anarchists is a contradiction in terms.
But then again, maybe their “Mavericks of the World Unite” campaign will piss off the mavericks too, and we can put this story to bed.