Saturday, July 24, 2010

The retreat begins?

We'll see how long the Cons stick with Tony Clement's latest census spin before moving on to another set of poor excuses. But it looks like they may be laying the groundwork to backtrack by (however implausibly) blaming Statistics Canada:
Industry Minister Tony Clement says Statistics Canada staff never told him it was a bad idea to make the long-form census voluntary.

In an interview with QMI Agency Friday, Clement said he couldn't say anything about the advice of Statistics Canada staff because advice to cabinet ministers is considered secret.

Media reports have said Statistics Canada staff oppose the change.

The department was due to have a meeting for all staff on Wednesday when chief statistician Munir Sheikh cancelled it at the last minute. He quit later that night, saying in a statement that a voluntary census can't replace a mandatory one.

But when asked about Statistics Canada opposition to the voluntary survey, Clement was terse.

“That is not what they said to me
. I think I'll stand on my answer that they gave us options and we chose one of those options,” he said.
Of course, Clement's claim that he can't tell the truth about what advice he asked for and received from Statistics Canada is patently false. But if the Cons stick to the line that "they never told us there might be problems!", that would seem to both undermine their ability to stick with a decision made in the absence of essential information, and provide a convenient excuse to reverse it while casting blame elsewhere.

Mind you, Clement already seems to be spinning back away from the report. But the Cons may want to take another look at the easiest way out of an issue that obviously isn't going away otherwise.

Update: pogge reaches exactly the opposite conclusion based on the Cons' insistence on hiding the advice they received from Statistics Canada.

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