Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Lies and Statistic (again)

Posted on | February 27, 2011 | No Comments

The next federal budget is only a few days away, so it may be timely to ponder the Conservative government’s accomplishments this term. We may as well think about this now, as the budget could possibly be rejected by the opposition, and send us all to the polling booth.

 Let’s first mention this government’s encroachment in Statistics Canada’s mandate. This government’s capacity to make enlightened decisions was greatly reduced by the removal of the long census mandatory character, as well as the abolition of five surveys (including one on environment and two on health care). The former statistician-in-chief resigned in protest, but his replacement, Wayne Smith, vows to be on the citizens’ heels in order to maximize the response rate.

 The obvious scorn displayed toward the Chamber of Commons was made obvious when Bev Oda had to admit lying to a parliamentary comity regarding the financing of Kairos, an organization subsidized by the CIDA for more than 30 years, without revealing anything more about her motives.

Still, lying is in fashion this year in Ottawa, and the Conservatives answered through the mouth of Jason Kenney, accusing the CBC, a federal organization of good standing, of « lying all the time ». Of course there is little love lost between these two since the damaging cuts forced by the Harper Government on the CBC. But the theme of falsehood rears its ugly head again as the CRTC ponders whether or not to repeal the prohibition to publish “false or misleading news”. Some see in this move a first step towards the promotion, on this side of the border, of “information” channels modeled on Fox News.

 Contradictions abound as well. After all, Harper questioned the legitimacy of an unelected senate during his first electoral campaigns, but was not shy to use is senate majority last November in order to shoot down a bill which would have forced him to respect the environmental targets fixed by the Kyoto protocol.

 Some, tempted to speak ill of this government, may find in these manoeuvres a will to shake on its foundations every neutral and trustworthy organ of information in this country in order to replace them with propaganda agencies worthy of the Weimar Republic. But this would be absurd – after all, which part of this country would find an interest in bringing down freedom of speech, the quality of our news, and favour inaction on environmental issues?

We’d only need news to the effect that Conservatives broke the electoral law to start believing we live in a Third World dictatorship…

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