The word “census” is derrived from the Latin censere which means “god-damned government poking its nose where it doesn’t belong!”

That’s why the Harper Conservatives, in their infinite wisdom, moved last year to dispense with the mandatory long-form census where a certain percentage of Canadians were expected to provide all sorts of information about themselves so that all sorts of municipal, provincial and federal government agencies, university researchers, social policy wonks, economic planners and whatnot could have some hard data to draw on when they were trying to analyze social trends and draft appropriate government policy.

How lame is that, right?

When the feds dropped the mandatory long-form census all sorts of progressive commentators heaped scorn on the government for its short-circuiting of what had previously been a strong instrument of public policy. Here’s a link to some piece of drivel on the topic that was produced by this very magazine last fall.

Well, it’s 2011 now. And as happens every five years, Statistics Canada is again imposing on Canadians to divulge personal information about themselves. The short-form census, which can be completed on-line or in paper format, is still mandatory. “By law, every household must complete a census questionaire” is how Stats Can oh so politely phrases it. Select households have also been flagged to complete a long-form census, only now its optional as opposed to compulsory.

Critics say this will hinder the collection of data vital to the efficient provision of public services in areas like health, education, housing and urban planning, But what do they know, right? Still, the short-form is mandated by law and it’s important to uphold the law.

The questions are all supposed to be answered as of today — May 10. So if you haven’t already, take a few minutes to do your civic duty and fill out your census form.