The race to save the census

The Liberal opposition says it will move a motion this week calling on the government to reinstate the long-form census and remove the threat of imprisonment for non-compliance. Even if passed by the House, that motion does not compel the government to act.

That motion though will be followed, in short order, by a Liberal private member’s bill, which would, conceivably, be official and binding. With the support of the NDP and BQ, that bill could, to some degree, be accelerated, though it’s unclear precisely how fast it could be moved through the House and when it could be expected to see a final vote.

Timing is, of course, of the essence because the census and the National Household Survey are due to be sent out in May. Liberal Marc Garneau mused late last week that perhaps an insert could be included advising recipients that the NHS is mandatory. Ivan Fellegi, the former chief statistician, has suggested that the whole census could be moved to September.

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