Virtually alone in the growing outrage over the federal government's decision to scrap the long-form mandatory census, the Fraser Institute threw its support behind the government's decision with its chief economist Niels Veldhuis arguing that "voluntary surveys will yield enough accurate information about the country and critics saying otherwise are members of 'vested interest groups."
The Fraser Institute's support for this policy stands in direct opposition to a virtual unanimous consensus among business groups, academics, policy analysts and statisticians who recognize that the demise of the mandatory long-form will so fundamentally skewer and distort statistical data to render it effectively useless.
With such venerable voices as former Chief StatsCan statistician Ivan Fellegi remarking that the proposed changes will "seriously bias" data and Don Drummond, former chief economist for TD Bank and a member of the National Statistics Council, stating that these changes will leave Canada in a statistical "fog" for years to come, one might wonder how the Fraser Institute can possible defend the evisceration of social statistics that it also depends upon for its research.
That is until you realize that the Fraser Institute has been painfully allergic to evidence-based research since its inception. What does accurate data matter when you can simply manipulate it to suit your desired ends? Whether it's flawed content analysis, grossly inflated tax numbers, disregard for socio-economic indicators, misrepresenting the HST, rigged hospital and school "report cards," or bogus "Tax Freedom" days, the Fraser has always been "fact-averse." The Fraser institute has never cared about the validity of social statistics before, so why should it start now?
With a voluntary long-form almost guaranteed to bias in favour of the affluent, the Fraser can end evidence of poverty, discrimination, and all the other social ills it has been trying to disappear from Canadians' view in one fell swoop. For the factually challenged Fraser, it's win-win.
Simon Enoch is Director of the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He holds a PhD in Communication and Culture from Ryerson University.
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