We hope you are all well. We wanted to provide you with an update on the “Save the Census” Campaign AND we Still Need YOUR Help!!!
It’s been a wild ride, and a great deal has happened over the last month since we were in touch with many of you. You will know some of this information from the media – some of it has been ‘under the radar.’
Monday, October 4 marks 100 days since the government snuck the announcement of the cancellation of the mandatory long form into the Canada Gazette, and what a 100 days it has been! We have seen
- over 370 organizations across Canada publicly call on the Government to change its mind
- local meetings with many MP’s of all stripes (and a meeting with the Ontario Liberal Caucus) asking them to overturn the decision
- outspoken criticism from past Ivan Fellegi, Mark Carney, and most notably and tragically, from Munir Sheikh
- an incredible, and continuing outpouring of “editorial” support from newspapers across Canada (with the single exception of the “Sun” chain of newspapers)
- amazingly high levels of media interest and coverage that has continued to this point in time.
- over 16,000 signatures on the online petition calling for reversal of the decision
- over 10,000 members signed up to the “Long Form Census” facebook page
- media events in major Canadian cities focusing on the health implications of the change
- a court challenge launched by the Franco-Canadian community
- calls for an emergency House of Commons Debate on the issue
- introduction of a Private Members Bill (Caroline Bennett) calling for reinstatement of the mandatory long form census
- an “Opposition Day” and subsequent resolution of the House of Commons (passed by all three opposition parties) calling for reinstatement of the mandatory long form.
- A number of websites, fact sheets, and other resources for opponents of the decision
- A significant drop in Conservative support, as measured by opinion polling, that has been largely attributed to this decision.
....And still the Conservatives have not budged.
The strategy for those of us who have been actively working on this issue over the summer had been to do everything possible to keep it in the public eye until Parliament resumed, at which point we hoped the opposition parties would pick it up and continue to drive it forward – which they have certainly done over the past week!
It has become clear that, government misinformation to the contrary, this decision can be effectively overturned right up until next June – a change to the cover letter for the “National Household Survey” can make it mandatory for respondents. This means our ongoing strategy turns to “the long game” – what do we need to do between now and next summer to ensure that this decision is overturned.
At this point, there are a couple of key directions which are being pursued:
- The first is the launching of a further legal challenge. CCSD has been working with legal counsel to develop a challenge based on the “right to be counted.” – given the fact that a number of groups clearly identified in the Charter as protected groups will be demonstrably underrepresented in a voluntary survey, this provides grounds for a strong appeal.
- The second is the idea of a “Task Force” which would travel across Canada, providing an opportunity for local organizations to speak out and continue to focus pressure on Conservative MP’s, particularly in swing ridings, to ensure that the Census continues to be a significant factor in determining voter preference.
Also, we hope to continue to build sustained interest in this issue through both the local organizing noted above, and with improved communication and ‘public education’ on the census – the last 100 days has been an amazing national ‘teach-in’ on the importance of data, its integrity, and issues of civic responsibility, engagement, and inclusion. There are key sectors that have not yet weighed in as effectively as they might (e.g. students and academia – not surprisingly given the timing of the announcement), and ongoing work provides an opportunity to mobilize these groups further.
We will also have to turn our thoughts to finding the resources to pursue this work. A legal challenge does have costs, and the other work that has been done to date on this issue has been unfunded. We have some strategies to move forward in this area, but will need your support to proceed effectively.
Right now, we are planning to use Monday, October 4, and the “100 Days” as the hook for launching Phase Two of the campaign to reclaim the census. Your assistance and ongoing involvement would be greatly appreciated – we hope you will join us on the call tomorrow, and look forward to continuing to work with you on this issue.
As we move forward, we are also seeking to identify individuals and organizations that are willing to play an active role on this issue over the coming months, recognizing that not every individual – or organization – has the capacity to put time and resources into moving this work forward. If you do want to remain actively engaged, and are willing to play a part as we move forward, please send us a quick email to indicate this, so that we can make sure we “count you in” to our ongoing work. We will keep everyone apprised of our progress, but are seeking to identify folk who can actively lend us a hand.
Again key material can be found at: www.datalibre.ca and www.savethecensus.ca and at Armine Yalnizyan’s blog.
Peggy Taillon John Campey & the Save the Census Team