Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2B or not 2B

While it is heartening to see the reaction of many to the bone headed decision of the Harper Government to eliminate the long form of the Census it is not so much to see who the reaction is coming from.

It is universally coming from academics, experts, bureaucrats and the media, those folks the Conservatives label the "liberal elite".

I can guarantee that the bleatings of this group is falling upon deaf ears and in fact I would not be surprised if the Conservatives make statements, in the near future, to the effect that they are defending Canadians from intrusiveness of the liberal elites in Canada. My guess, it will come in the form of a request for financial support from the party faithful before the expected fall election.

That would cause the anti-intellectual, knuckle dragging mouth breathers that infest the Conservative Party to shout out a lusty "Ya", while writing cheques, while the rest of the Canadian public would shrug and turn back to their BBQs and the users of the Census long-form data would be left to find the data they need to do their work elsewhere.

Part of the problem for the critics of this decision is they are again using long-winded dissertations on the importance of the data. Certainly, everything they say is based in fact but the Conservatives do not care about facts and Canadians are too busy enjoying their summer to really pay attention.

What the critics have to do is grab the attention of Canadians by showing them how this decision will effect them at personal level. They need to do it in a short and punchy way that allows for the short attention spans of the typical voter.

There are dozens of programs, at all levels of government, that involve writing cheques to Canadians and that use this data in their administration. The critics should identify each and every one of them and make the statement:

"If you receive cheques from any of these programs the decision by the Harper Government on the Census could reduce the amount of that cheque or whether you receive it at all".

Certainly that would be a broad statement but as I have stated in this space before the critics of this government have to stop playing fair and start playing to win. If that means using propaganda then so be it.

Certainly the Conservatives would deny this statement but we all know that the nature of politics is the accusation always receives more play and bigger headlines than the subsequent denial.

This is a party and a government that believes any kind of compromise or conciliation is a form of weakness so this decision is final. However, that does not mean that the critics of this decision cannot make the government regret it.