Tom Flanagan, a former chief of staff to Harper who has a long history with the Reform, Canadian Alliance and Conservative parties, is among those puzzled by the government's motivation behind the census decision.
"It's just never been an issue in the Conservative movement," he said in an interview. "It just literally comes out of nowhere as far as I can see."
Flanagan, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, said while some of the privacy concerns may be legitimate, the way the Conservatives have handled this is completely misguided.
"I think it was an exercise in bad government to suddenly spring this on the public without any previous discussion, no consultation at all," he said. "You don't deal with the public that way in a democracy."
Flanagan and others predict the Conservatives will alienate more supporters than they will appease with this decision.Flanagan has played contrarian from time to time with Conservative moves but any little bit of Conservative opposition might help turn this decision around. Could be an interesting week on that front, Flanagan's view comes on the heels of an Andre Pratte editorial calling for cabinet members to stand up to Mr. Harper. Someone who might be able to help the cause along might be this guy. Assuming all that science guy talk actually means something, that is. Well, never say never, right?
"They are alienating a lot of people who have supported the government and would like to continue supporting the government, people who are fundamentally Conservatives but see this as just bad government," said Flanagan. "It's not clear to me what they're going to pick up from this politically and they're irritating a lot of people who would like to be their friends."
As this piece indicates, some are saying it's getting late in the day for the decision to be reversed in order for the long form to be made mandatory again in preparation for next year's census. All the more reason to encourage Conservative voices to stand and be counted now (pardon the pun).