Saturday, July 17, 2010

Statistics Canada needs guts

Industry minister Tony Clement has asked Canadians to trust Statistics Canada for his decision to scrap the mandatory long census form and replace it with a voluntary questionnaire. The Canadians would trust Statistics Canada if they knew where it stood on this matter.

Dr. Munir A. Sheikh, Canada’s chief statistician who was handpicked by the Harper government in 2008 to lead the agency, has refused to speak on the matter.  He has declined an interview request from The Canadian Press. His silence on the matter has made Minister Clement the de facto chief spokesperson for the agency.

Canadians expect strong leadership from their chief statistician. The former chief statistician of Canada, Dr. Ivan Fellegi, has told The Canadian Press that he would have quit his job in protest had the government tried to pull this stunt during his tenure.

Statistics Canada has already lost the trust of most Canadians by following an executive order instead of first consulting with those who rely on its data. Dr. Sheikh must speak directly to Canadians and explain why he believes the unanimous opposition by Canadian academics, businesses, charities, and medical professionals to scrap the mandatory long census form is misplaced.

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