Wednesday, August 11, 2010

There's A Word For It

There's a term used to describe the behavior of knowing one truth, but telling others something entirely different.

I guess the most fascinating part of these census emails, the concerted effort by the government to sanitize their ideological push, and make it appear as though Statistics Canada was on board. We see emails, wherein government references are removed and replaced, part of the "communications strategy" to sell these census changes.

Tony Clement completely misrepresented the position of Statistics Canada:
Industry Minister Tony Clement was well aware that Statistics Canada had little use for a voluntary census when he was telling Canadians that StatsCan was onside with his decision to scrap the mandatory, long-form survey, internal government documents show.

In an email to the minister’s advisers in March, a StatsCan official says a self-administered voluntary survey “provides a response rate of 50 per cent.” The email goes on to say that, with follow-up and interviewer support, the response rate can be increased to 65-70 per cent, “which is still not an acceptable outcome for a census.”

Yet Clement publicly gave the impression that the respected federal data collecting agency supported the Conservatives’ move to scrap the mandatory nature of the 40-page, long-form survey that has traditionally gone out to one-in-five households at census time.

“We’ve come up with a way that is statistically valid, that StatsCan feels can work,” Clement said during an appearance at McGill University last month.

StatsCan didn't feel the changes "can work", IN FACT they argued the exact opposite, expressive grave concerns that the government's changes wouldn't work. Clement tries to hide behind StatsCan, consistent with other requests to remove government references in press releases.

Obviously, it is entirely predictable that any government would try and sell their policies, nothing unusual there. However, to purposely cite support from the bureaucracy, where NONE exists, in fact the opposite, raises serious questions about the moral fitness of the Minister.

If you ask me, looking at the sequence of events, the wrong person was forced to resign.

8 comments:

Annie... said...

Sounds like some governments in the past..... in the 1940's.

Tof KW said...

I’ve actually been trying to figure out Harper’s angle on this whole census debacle, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably over-thinking this. He’s not the ‘great tactician’ as has been proven many times over now, and this census manoeuvre is yet another example of that. Reading Chantal Hebert’s editorial from a few days ago, I think she is on to something and is close to the truth there.

Harper knows an election will probably happen within the next 12 months, and this census fiasco was part of the process to shore up his base. Killing the mandatory long-form was part of a process to appeal to the wing-nut libertarian side of the CPofC, and as a bonus would help in the future to hide those pesky facts when they conflict with the Reformatories world view.

Regardless of the bravado of the assorted loudmouths and trolls that plague these liblogs, a silent but significant portion of rank and file party supporters are re-evaluating Harper’s performance as of late; proof is seen in the apparent decline in donations to the CPofC by ~40% last month. I also have my own anecdotal evidence from speaking with a few Con friends of mine, they’re still true-blue supporters but they are questioning Harper’s moves lately.

Hebert is probably right in that Harper’s probably saying ‘fuck the majority win, let’s do this’ …but additionally I believe he’s acting so in hopes to save the deck chairs before an election. Probably thinking that this would be enough to etch out another minority win and buy him at least another two years at the helm. But he gravely miscalculated on the census issue, if for no other reason that both large and independent business groups are against this move. Hell, when you’ve got a coalition of business and unions against you, plus the media (part of business really), municipalities and every major religious group opposed to something …you know you’ve stepped in it.

Unless the Liberals really screw something up over the next year or so, I can’t imagine Harper’s numbers ever going back up past the 35% mark ever again. His dream of a majority win is now dead and buried.

ottlib said...

"Misrepresented"?

Steve, you are being kind. That is not the word I would use.

T: I think the Conservatives are in grave danger of losing the next election let alone failing to win a majority.

They are looking more and more like the Martin Liberals around September 2005. Still leading in the polls but mired in a controversies they cannot seem to escape.

I also believe the Conservatives feel the same way. Watch for the "Canadians do not want and election" rhetoric to be ratcheted up buy the Conservatives in the coming weeks.

RuralSandi said...

When does the next AG report come out?

Interesting situation - Harper claims Canadians don't want an election and yet, the Sun, doing Harper's 3rd party dirty work has tried to discredit the AG - is he afraid?

Saskboy said...

As comforting a thought as that is Tof KW, Harper's majority dream is not dead. The media are still in love with Steve, because they've said so many untrue positive things about him over the years, they'd have to swallow a lot of humble pie to talk trash now.

Tof KW said...

Saskboy, I would have agreed with you until Harper pulled this census stunt. The calculus has changed. He has now lost the media as they rely on the demographic information within the census as much as they do the daily ratings / newspaper sales numbers. Aside from his paid help at the Sun, he’s lost every media outlet on this issue. Also add in the various chambers of commerce, business groups and independent business organisations that have issued public statements against abandoning the mandatory long-form. These are the people Harper should be working with, not against. They are hardly the ‘loonie left’ types which Harper usually enjoys pissing off.

I ‘m actually being charitable as the situation for the Reformatories is much more serious than you describe, and I side with ottlib’s view more. However Harper has proven to be the Energizer Bunny of politics, he keeps going and going; so unlike ottlib (and somewhat on your side) I will say it is way too early to write his political obituary. I think he will rebound somewhat, but his ‘piano-man’ 40%+ days are now history. Add in the prorogation fiasco as well. There is no way he can get into majority territory anymore, barring a complete and ultra-stupid manoeuvre on the Grit’s part. Harper has now burned his bridges to those very groups he requires in order to win a majority.

The Conservative’s only hope at winning a majority at this point require them replacing Harper as leader. I wonder how many of them still fear the man, and now see events for what they are?

Shiner said...

Problem solved, according to Tony is Taber's interview, the word we're looking for is "colour". Not sure if the correct use is:

Tony Clement is a colourer
or
The government is full of colour

Tof KW said...

Shiner, Clement and the rest of the Harper government are full of something alright. And that colour would be brown.

...that was a big, slow moving target there Shiner, I couldn't resist :)