Faced with a lawsuit from a Francophone group opposed to the changes to the long form of the census the government has decided to shift questions on francophone skill from the now voluntary long form to the mandatory short form of the census.
The government hopes that this will placate angry francophone voters. The reality is that it will probably make many Canadians more upset.
Now the public gets to see that:
a) It is completely obvious that the Government did not think this policy through – so much so that it must now make changes on the fly
b) That the only way to be heard by this government is to take legal action
c) That the government is willingly ignoring the innumerably other stakeholders like the federal ministries, the provinces, cities, plus 300+ NGOs, business groups, religious organizations, etc… that are negatively impacted by this decision
d) That their goal is to destroy the census and that the actions today were about accelerating that process, not consulting or listening to Canadians
Of course, the repercussions continue to pile in. Even some hard core conservative commentators think that Minister Clement has embarrassed himself and seriously damaged his career, and polls continue to show the Conservatives have slumped significantly. The most damning piece in those polls however is hidden in the find print, not only have the conservatives slid double digits, but they are not the second choice for most Canadians, so even if people do change their minds, decisions like this make it harder to imagine they’ll go conservative.