I don’t agree very often with Liberal blogger Warren Kinsella, but his blog post, HERE COMES THE LONG FORM CENSUS ELECTION!, is right on. I have been very uncomfortable filling in the long-form census in the past. I don’t trust any organization with sort of personal information asked for. Time and again we hear of misuse and carelessness by private organizations and by governments, despite promises—even laws—protecting our privacy (see Kinsella’s article for a list of significant lapses).
I also agree this is not much of an issue with which to go to the polls. I can just see Michael Ignatieff criss-crossing the country in an election campaign, ranting how terrible it is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it voluntary to fill out the long-form, and will no longer threaten citizens with jail terms if they refuse to divulge highly personal information to federal bureaucrats.
I notice that the moaning and hand-wringing over this issue seems mostly to be coming from organizations, public and private, which use our personal information for their own (useful or otherwise) ends. I hear and read little from individuals bemoaning the loss of an opportunity to hand over quite intrusive private information about themselves.
I agree with Kinsella that a mandatory long-form, with the sort of private questions it demands be answered, would likely not pass a privacy law challenge. And the fact it’s the federal government asking the questions doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m a private person and have a right to be so.