Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On bare minimums

Impolitical notes that Tony Clement seem to be hinting at modifying the short form census in response to the threat of litigation over French service delivery. But it's worth pointing out what Clement's declaration actually means in terms of the Cons' positioning.

Aside from the prospect of the Cons themselves deciding that maybe an all-out assault on the delivery of public services isn't a fight they want to take on at the moment, there's effectively only one way for anybody to force them to reverse course. That involves finding ways in which the Cons' plan involves a breach of law, then persuading a court to order that the census proceed as normal as a remedy for that impending breach. It's not a likely outcome (since courts are generally hesitant to dictate the outcome of discretionary decisions), but it at least offers some fallback option when the party in charge so stubbornly refuses to listen to reality.

In that context, Clement's concession mostly looks to signal that the Cons aren't about to take the risk of that happening. Instead, they're insisting on using their own zero-consultation, zero-reason gutting of the long form as the starting point. And from there, they're apparently willing to make small concessions only on issues that involve potentially enforceable legal duties (which they apparently never bothered to take into account in the first place) - with the apparent goal of undermining as much of the long form census as they can.

Needless to say, that's about the worst possible ground of discussion for those of us in the reality-based community. So let's keep focused on the Cons' more basic choice to trash the long-form census and how it feeds into their general desire to destroy effective government in Canada, rather than being the least bit satisfied with the Cons doing the most damage they can be assured of getting away with.

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