Here is a whopping cavalcade of surprise: the business-boosting Fraser Institute supports the Conservative government’s plan to weaken the effectiveness of the census (Leader-Post).  Here’s an excerpt from the L-P’s story:

“I think that Canadians ought to have a very sober second look at the mandatory long-form census and really ask themselves whether or not we should be forcing Canadians to answer what I consider to be very private questions,” Niels Veldhuis, senior economist with the conservative think-tank, said in an interview. “These questions are things that I don’t believe the government has any business or authority forcing Canadians to answer.”

Veldhuis said the public criticism of the decision, which will see the 2011 long-form census eradicated and replaced with a voluntary survey, was not unexpected and is coming from academics, economists and other social scientists who represent a “vested interest group” seeking to maintain their own access to the data.

Because the Fraser Institute is not a vested interest group.

This might sound like a typical left talking point but it’s really not: the census change is a small but very deliberate move to make it harder for non-profit organizations and researchers to get their hands on accurate information which they would’ve been able to use to challenge government decisions.

The spin from the anti-census crowd will be this better respects Canadians’ privacy. But that’s not what the move is about. Gutting the census strengthens the interests of the wealthiest Canadians and weakens the ability of people to challenge the policies the wealthy support: tax cuts that favour the rich, military spending hikes that transfer public wealth to private interests (defence contractors), the ongoing erosion of social programs, etc.

The proof is in the pudding; the rich keep getting richer, the rest of us keep getting poorer (the Tyee).

It’s not a coincidence that these census changes will make it harder to measure that.

UPDATE: Edited to remove incoherance.