Taxpayers and the Census
The Fraser Institute and National Citizensâ€™ Coalition have understandable motives for wanting to eliminate the mandatory long form. First, there are libertarian â€œprivacyâ€ concerns.
Second, depriving the government of reliable census data would undermine public programs that these groups dislike. Third, lower response rates at lower income levels (and perhaps among the super rich) would assist them in downplaying poverty and inequality.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) might take the same position for the same reasons. But by all accounts, replacing the mandatory long form with a more widely distributed and advertised voluntary questionnaire would significantly increase census costs.
The Fraser Institute and National Citizensâ€™ Coalition can somewhat coherently argue for spending more public money on right-wing initiatives. However, the CTF is supposedly focussed on saving tax dollars (in order to facilitate tax cuts). As I point out in todayâ€™s Globe and Mail, that mandate is hard to square with advocating a more expensive census:
The price of ideology
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is listed as supporting the federal governmentâ€™s census decision (Government That Listens? â€“ editorial, Aug. 4). By all accounts, replacing the mandatory long-form census with a more widely distributed and advertised voluntary questionnaire would significantly increase census costs. Is the Federation actually committed to saving tax dollars or does it expect taxpayers to finance conservative ideological causes?
Erin Weir, economist, United Steelworkers, Toronto
This inconsistency may explain the CTFâ€™s changing tune. A month ago, its BC director applauded the governmentâ€™s decision.
More recently, its federal/Ontario director seemed toÂ question the governmentâ€™s priorities: â€œthe Prime Minister would rather burn up political capital reforming the census than the Senate.â€ (Of course, an elected Senate would also entail additional public expenditure.)