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Liberal census bill passes – despite Harper Conservatives’ voting against it

Posted on December 8, 2010

Although the Liberal bill to save the mandatory long-form census passed second reading today, the Harper Conservatives unanimously voted against it as they continue to ignore the will of the majority of Canadians who have been fighting against the government’s ideological attack on the census, Liberal MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett said today.

“Every single Conservative member should be ashamed by their actions today,” said Dr. Bennett, whose Private Member’s Bill to enshrine the mandatory long-form census in law passed at its second reading today during a vote in the House of Commons.

“Today’s victory clearly demonstrates that the majority of parliamentarians support enshrining the long-form census in law and preserving the integrity of the data needed for effective policy-making and evidence-based decisions. Only this ideological government wants to scrap it and spend $30 million more of taxpayers’ money to get less reliable information from a voluntary short form survey.”

By voting against Dr. Bennett’s Private Member’s Bill, the Conservatives continue to ignore calls from provincial, territorial and municipal governments, economists, community groups, medical associations, and religious organizations that use the information collected in the census to make fact-based decisions that help Canadians in their daily lives.

Last week, it was confirmed that this bill will not require a royal recommendation to proceed because its passage will actually save the government $30 million. This means the bill does not require the Conservative government to support it in order for it to become law if passed by the House of Commons and the Senate.

“The question now is: will Stephen Harper respect the will of the elected Chamber? Based on his track record, we’re skeptical. But we will not give up – what’s at stake is the integrity of Canada’s official statistics and the lifeblood of economic decision-making in the living rooms and boardrooms of the nation.

“This bill is important, because if the census is not reinstated, Stephen Harper will be able to implement his ideological agenda and cut important programs for Canadians. He doesn’t care about accurate information on things like unemployment levels, multiculturalism or unpaid work because he’d prefer to cut things like Employment Insurance, immigrant settlement services and programs that help family caregivers.”

Through the Liberal Open Government Initiative, a future Liberal government would direct all federal departments and agencies to adopt a default principle of open government when it comes to sharing information, and make all Statistics Canada data available free of charge.

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