Queen's University

Census experts

2010-08-19

Three professors are available to talk about the proposed changes to the Canadian census.

BUSINESS PERCPECTIVE

School of Business professor John Pliniussen is available to discuss the government’s decision to make the long-form census voluntary from a business perspective.

"The government's census gamble is a huge business blunder. Abandoning the mandatory long form census is short-sighted and will cost jobs and waste millions of dollars. Both the process of deciding to use the questionnaire and the questionnaire itself are flawed,” says Professor Pliniussen, who specializes in marketing.

 

PRIVACY ISSUES

Sociology professor David Murakami Wood is available to talk about the long-form census debate and whether or not the census is an invasion of privacy as some critics claim.

“One only has to glance at the history of government data collection and its role in discrimination to see that that one can be far too blase about the ‘impossibility’ of states misusing statistics – race in particular. Examples abound, from the Holocaust of the 1940s to the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s,” says Prof. Murakami Wood, whose research interest includes the politics and ethics of surveillance. “However, just because the census is a form of coercive state surveillance, which has the potential for misuse, it does not necessarily make it wrong. The whole way in which privacy has been discussed is a red herring. We need to reaffirm a commitment to privacy alongside other collective social values not in opposition to them. We need privacy and we need the census.”

Prof. Murakami Wood is a member of The Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University and is also managing editor of Surveillance & Society, the international journal of surveillance studies.
 

 

AFFECT ON RESEARCHERS AND PLANNERS

School of Urban and Regional Planning professor Andrejs Skaburskis is available to talk about the Conservatives government’s plan to make the long form of the 2011 Census voluntary.

“This will have negative consequences for people involved in government policy and Canadians in general. The voluntary nature of the response will lead to major biases being introduced into the only comprehensive data source Canada has that help officials understand and plan for the future – everything from predicting future housing and energy demands to market analysis of a broad range of manufacturing and retail sectors,” says Professor Skaburskis, who jokes he has spent more time with Census data over than past 25 years than with his wife.

“A voluntary long-form census would leave a black mark on Canadian history. Twenty, 30, and a 100 years from now people will wonder how supposedly educated people could have allowed such a change in the 2011 census.”
 

 

To arrange an interview, please contact Michael Onesi at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 or michael.onesi@queensu.ca, or Kristyn Wallace at 613.533.6000 ext. 79173 or kristyn.wallace@queensu.ca at News and Media Services, Queen’s University.

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