Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it is "not appropriate" for the government to threaten Canadians reluctant to fill out a mandatory long-form census with jail time or fines.So we're back to that...it's the coercion, stupid! And with the magical PMO bubble driven media management, no follow ups! Move on! Not good enough though, the privacy rationale has been completely debunked. Weeks ago, wasn't it?
The comments marked the first time the prime minister has weighed in on the Conservative government's decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census and replace it with a voluntary survey.
Speaking to reporters Monday after a funding announcement at the Vancouver Aquarium, Harper said he understands some Canadians are reluctant to give "detailed personal information" sought after by the government.
"I know some people think the appropriate way to deal with that is through prosecuting those individuals with fines and jail terms," he said. "This government will not do that."
Instead, the prime minister said the government would work with the public to get their co-operation on providing the information.
Notice how the PM just slips in there that he doesn't support the jail terms - which could have been the basis for some kind of compromise - but additionally, he doesn't even support fines. It's all voluntary or nothing. Which, as we know from spending weeks on this issue, will not produce reliable data no matter the spin from the PM and his cabinet flunkies.
He's digging in and this is going to roll on. As Scott is getting at today, this issue is a hallmark good government issue. Canadians like good government, they sense when it's being broken.
Update (6:00 p.m.): Keep digging, Mr. PM, keep digging.