The announcement this week from Treasury Board president Stockwell Day that the government intends to spend billions of our dollars on expanding prisons is a little peculiar, especially considering statistics have shown crime rates to be on the decline.
Day backed up his position by claiming that crime is not going down, it’s just going unreported, although he neglected to provide any evidence to back this up, or details on any of these unreported crimes. Nor did he explain why people are choosing to not report these crimes.
The strategy behind this latest move is unclear. Perhaps the Conservatives are trying to relaunch their “tough on crime” agenda to win back some support in urban Canada that they lost after the G20 debacle. Maybe they really believe that there is a wave of unreported crimes that will somehow be remedied by more prisons.
What is crystal clear, however, is why the government would like to knock the teeth of of Statistics Canada. It’s hard to sell their ideas when the cold hard facts aren’t backing them up. Solution: make the facts less cold and less hard.
By removing the mandatory longform census, they can do away with what right-wingers have long seen as a launching pad for left-wing social programs. It will be much easier to scrap programs that Stephen Harper hates if the statistics are no longer there to show the programs are justified.
As for the usefulness of a voluntary longform census? Ask the George W. Bush Republicans, who introduced the idea in 2003, only to abandon it after response rates dropped by a third and the U.S. Census Bureau deemed the numbers too low to be reliable.
Canadians need policies developed from clear, unfettered, non-partisan data, not fear-based propaganda.