Statement made on 05 October 2010 by Senator James Cowan
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, I wish to return for a moment to the questions raised by the Honourable Senator Callbeck with respect to the census.
As I listened to the discussion and the exchange between the Leader of the Government in the Senate and various colleagues on this side — not just today but also on other days — and as I read the commentary from the government on this issue, it seems that the point is being missed. The essential point is not whether Canadians will respond and will voluntarily provide the answers, or that their answers will be less accurate than they would be if they were required to answer.
With the exception of the Prime Minister, every statistician and every economist who has commented on this issue has said consistently that the difficulty is that certain groups in our society, — in particular, the elderly, Aboriginals and, perhaps, some linguistic minorities, will not respond in sufficient numbers to provide the level of statistical accuracy that is required for those organizations — federal, provincial and municipal governments, a variety of not-for-profit organizations and nongovernmental agencies — to make the kinds of decisions that they have to make every day and which they have made in the past based upon the evidence that is contained in the census-gathering process of Statistics Canada.
Does the minister believe that the answers, not whether there will be sufficient numbers, will be statistically accurate enough to provide that kind of information for those who need to make decisions on a go-forward basis?
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