Long form census should be first on ‘to do’ list

We think one of the most crucial changes Trudeau should make post-haste is to reinstitute the long form census.

Now that he’s in power, Justin Trudeau is being asked to reverse a whole raft of things the Stephen Harper Conservatives did during their decade in office.

From re-opening the Kitsilano coast guard station to unmuzzling Canada’s government scientists, a lot of things are being suggested.

We think one of the most crucial changes Trudeau should make post-haste is to reinstitute the long form census.

To many people this sounds like rather a dull place to start. It sounds kind of bureaucratic and involves a lot of paper and statistics and such.

But the fact of the matter is that it is time-sensitive if we want the long form census to be reinstituted in time for the next census cycle.

And we argue that we cannot allow another cycle to pass into a black hole of bad data.

Nor can we stomach the idea of paying more for that bad data.

Because that’s what happened when the Harper Conservatives switched to the voluntary survey. We got inferior data and it cost us millions more in tax dollars. It was sheer absurdity that should be reversed as soon as possible.

Officials who have been in charge of directing collection of long form census data in the past have said that time is drawing short if we want it back in time for May 2016.

But what’s the nitty-gritty? Why is the census so important to the average citizen?

It’s important because the census tells us who we are.

It tells us where we are living and how we are living and how we are doing, and who needs what. Having this information widely available to Canada’s citizens is vital to the continuation of our democracy and the advancement of our country.

We have to know who we are to plan where we are going.

This is how we argue for or against spending money on this or that.

This is how we know where our government is doing a good job and where more work is needed.

This was one of the primary problems with the voluntary survey — those who were the most marginalized were the least likely to fill it out, thus becoming even more invisible.

Everyone from provincial governments to heads of a variety of agencies and charities has expressed just how vital the information the census provides us is.

Trudeau has promised to bring the mandatory long form census back, and many predict he will do so in time for next spring.

This one is the low-hanging fruit on the road to making nice with the voting public.

It’s almost impossible to be against such a move.

But if the Liberals need one more nudge, here it is.