It seems everyone and their dog is opposing the Conservative government’s recent move to make the Canadian long-form census voluntary instead of mandatory (except the uber-libertarian Fraser Institute).
The basic story is this: Someone in the government (most rumours point to Prime Minister Stephen Harper directly) decided that forcing people to answer questions that help develop social policy (how many hospitals/roads to build etc), was overly invasive so they nixed it. But to improve the quality of the now biased data, they decided that a larger sample size (at an extra cost of $30 million) would solve all problems. Obviously, every statistician in the country recognized that when you throw more shit in a pile it won’t smell any better, but perhaps Harper didn’t learn basic statistics when he got his masters in economics.
Among the numerous groups opposing this change are many religious organizations, including Jews, evangelicals and many mainline Christians. So the question is: should atheist groups like CFI, FAC or Humanist Canada oppose the census change?
I think the arguments in favour are fairly obvious, this is a move that seemingly puts ideology ahead of reasons and science (things we like), and it’s important that we know the numbers and distributions of non-religious people in the country.
But many freethought leaders are afraid to get political. Confusing the need to be non-partisan to maintain charitable status with a need to be non-political. Yet, many of the organizations that have denounced the change are charities themselves, and such policy releases are common place.
Even the non-profit lobby group Canadian Secular Alliance hasn’t really said anything yet.
Of course, at this point, any release would feel like a “me too,” sort of announcement, joining the party much too late, but perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here in the future.