Cheers & Jeers

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Jeers: to blind governance. Which is exactly what Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared to be asking for in 2010 when he scrapped the mandatory long-form census. Well, he got his wish. Last week, The Globe and Mail highlighted how policy experts across Canada have run into major problems getting accurate data to gauge everything from health care to municipal planning. The numbers speak for themselves. The rate of response for the 2006 mandatory form was 93.5 per cent. The average rate for the new National Household Survey was 68.6. At the University of Toronto, a group of professors who oversee the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership spelled out the obvious problem: “(The) voluntary survey has, as predicted, widely varying non-response rates. The response rates vary by location, socioeconomic status, ethno-cultural origin, family status, and so on.” And here’s an even more revealing factor: “Single parents and one-person households as well as renters had lower response rates. So did those living in the richest and poorest census tracts.” That means statistics about such matters as income inequality are now totally unreliable. Trends? Forget it. Hurray for ignorance. For the Conservatives, at least, it’s bliss.

Jeers: to the same old, same old. One would have thought — given recent brutalities and revelations about brain damage and such — that the hockey world might be inching away from the gladiator-like phenomenon it has turned into. Evidently not. When Montreal Canadiens tough guy George Parros was knocked unconscious during a game last week, fellow NHL players were quick to defend the role of “enforcers” — team members who are expected to throw their muscle around on the ice. “The guys who do it, and do it with pride, I have a lot of respect for that,” said teammate Josh Gorges. “You need those enforcers to kind of patrol the ice and keep everything in order,” said Nazem Kadri of the Maple Leafs. Some commentators have noted that Parros, unlike other goons, is a rather intelligent chap. That hardly matters when the gloves are off and the fists are flying. Deliberate physical attacks are as common as ever in hockey — assaults that would often be considered a serious crime off the ice. If NHL players and coaches are determined to declare undying respect for these mercenaries on ice, how can anyone take seriously initiatives to tackle excessive violence in the game?

Cheers: to menu alternatives. If you attended the gala dinner of the 2013 World Seafood Congress in St. John’s last week, you’d be forgiven for thinking organizers had somehow lost their marbles. The menu consisted of the following: roasted butternut squash puree, angus striploin and crème brulée. Where, you might ask, is the seafood? Well, there was a crab fritter to go with the beef. But more to the point, a spokesperson said delegates had been nibbling on seafood for days, so they presumed red meat would be a refreshing change. Which leads one to ponder, when the Alberta Beef Industry Conference kicks off next February, will the entrée be blackened salmon?

Organizations: Globe and Mail, University of Toronto, NHL Conservatives Montreal Canadiens Maple Leafs World Seafood Congress

Geographic location: Canada, Alberta

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  • Tony Rockel
    October 07, 2013 - 14:36

    Re Tory elimination of the long form census: The Harperites, with their mania for deregulation, should go ahead and set up a Canadian chapter of the Tea Party. Harper and his crew would no doubt be welcomed with open arms.

  • Colin Burke
    October 07, 2013 - 09:27

    Of course a very detailed long-form census is absolutely necessary for a government to do at all well for people most of what most people ought to be doing for themselves. But where a government does only what governments ought, which is punishing injustice, hardly any sort of census is at all necessary. (Injustice now most often consists in people enjoying more than they can get by doing actual deeds that actually produce what they want, and current governments thrive on allowing or even promoting such injustice.)