Under the previous Canadian government, the long form census was abolished in the name of freedom because letting the government know your phone number, email address and the number of rooms in your house was too much intrusion and could lead to internment camps. Or so goes the hysterical objections.
The reality is that were it not for the census, civilization as we know it would probably not exist. It was the Romans, after all, who first came up with the idea of counting and sorting people, which lead to their empire and eventually the world as we know it.
Sure, that’s a simplification, but a pretty straight-forward one.
Counting, sorting, and lumping is how our governments go about trying to decide where tax dollars will be spent. Some of it for the greater good even.
And the spirits of censuses long past is one of the treasure troves historians seek out and use to enlighten us about our collective pasts and maybe clue us in on overlap among all the groups of people who make up our communities, provinces, regions and countries.
As a lover of all things geek and history, I am totally in favor of the census.
In my opinion, the arguments about what an invasion of privacy the census can be is nonsense when we remember how much personal information we thoughtlessly, and happily even, hand over to financial institutions to obtain funding or to social media outlets to obtain entertainment and connectivity.
It amuses me a bit when anonymous social media folks rail about government intrusion when I know they had to share quite a bit of personal information with an Internet connect provider, whose discretion and reliability are far less sure, in order to obtain the account they are ranting from in the first place.
Our workplaces, banks and healthcare providers have more pertinent information about us, and we barely blink about it, but inform the federal government about how many hours a week you work? Massive violation of the sacred trust.
People are funny.
And while I am not arguing that we shouldn’t wonder and be wary about the uses our government will put our information to, it’s worth noting the hypocrisy and contradiction in the rationales against the census.
The husband and I completed the census together. We got the long form, so it was a bit detail picky in a few places.
There was a glitch with the “save for later” function due to the high traffic volume on the website.
Canadians are such data nerds that they crashed the census website in their zeal to replenish the dried up information well created by the previous government.
Really, how many other countries in the world can boast that their population is highly in favor of data driven policy decision-making to the point that they take selfies with their census forms?
That’s right. Just Canada.
I love the idea that 92 years from now, some historian will discover that my house had nine rooms – not counting hallways, bathrooms and closets – and that I was a stay at home mom. How delightfully dull I will seem. My real self – and this blog – long gone and forgotten.
Perhaps what really bothers people about the census is that it strips our existences down to bare, boring fact. Nothing but checkmarks in sterile columns.
The Romans used the census to build an empire. Canada will use it to decide on more mundane things like infrastructure and social programming needs, but I giggle a bit at the thought that the rabid nay-sayers are correct, and the current government might be up to nefarious business with our cell phones numbers or ethnic backgrounds.
I can just picture the Prime Minister sitting in his office. Gleefully rubbing his hands together in the classic pose of a cartoon villain and saying,
“World domination. One census at a time.”
and then he cackles while his cabinet nods solemnly, wondering what they have done.