Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois supports the Liberal Party's motion to immediately reinstate the mandatory long form census. In the same vein, the Bloc is also calling for the removal of the provision on possible imprisonment if someone does not complete the census.
I want to point out one very important thing to our Conservative friends about where the census comes from. Let us go back to a time of obscurantism—I am not necessarily talking about the Reform Party of Canada, which was the precursor to the Conservative Party and still instills fear, because we know and see some of the members— when despots had absolute power. These despots could choose whether their subjects lived or died. These monarchs wanted to get as rich as possible, even at the expense of other kings or their own people. In other words, the king's opinion was the only one that mattered; he had a monopoly on the truth. Many of these kings even felt that they ruled by divine right.
Then came the revolutions. After them came a period of reflection when intelligent thought gained the upper hand. I would like the Conservatives to come back to earth rather than having us go back in time. I would like them to stay with us. During the liberal revolutions, these despots were removed. A new system was put in place. For almost 400 years—perhaps a bit less—this is how things have worked: a democratic system has been put in place. The democrats who are elected care about the lot of their people and reflect on how to improve it and how to improve citizens' lives. They also believe that they need information.
At the time, this information was known as political mathematics. That is where it all began. Political mathematics entails having all the—I would like my Conservative friends to listen carefully to the next word—scientific information, obtained by using a scientific method. The term scientific is very important. I know that some MPs believe that the world was created 5,000 years ago and that human beings lived alongside dinosaurs. That is not true. They should stop believing such things. They are not helping science and not helping the Quebec or Canadian public.
The fact remains that scientific mathematics has adopted the connotation of the German word statistik. These statistics, like those published by Statistics Canada and the Institut de la statistique du Québec, help the decision-maker, the elected representative, the democrat. The elected democrat wants to help the people, the citizens, and take an enlightened and scientific view of that people's situation in all spheres of life and society and throughout the nations they represent. Therefore, it is very important for the Conservatives to remain in the contemporary world and not take us back to the Middle Ages. It is very important to take note of this.
For these and other reasons based on scientific common sense, the Bloc Québécois rejects the changes to the census questionnaire proposed by the Reform Conservative government. These changes are based strictly on ideology, which is frightening, very frightening. In fact it worries us; science is being attacked.
These changes will hinder the ability of Quebec and its municipalities to put forward targeted and effective public policies that meet the needs of citizens. I know that this is a new concept for them. I would like them to move in that direction and we will help them do that.
In order to achieve the goal of collecting reliable data for proper scientific sampling, the mandatory nature of the long form census must be maintained. The Reform Conservatives want to sabotage the scientific aspect of the census, which is troubling, very troubling. I have heard the Reform Conservatives say things that are complete nonsense about this. I mentioned one such thing earlier, and I repeat: the member for Beauce has suggested that when he was the minister responsible for the census—the industry minister—he received up to 1,000 complaints a day regarding the census. Anything Capitaine Bonhomme could say is far less scary than the terrible things the member for Beauce is saying. A real bogeyman he is, that member for Beauce.
Yet the Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, said on July 27, 2010—I was present at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology meeting—that over the past 20 years, only 52 complaints have been received regarding all aspects of the census. We are talking about 52 complaints in 20 years, even thought the hon. member for Beauce said he received 1,000 a day. There have been only six complaints in recent years. I find it appalling that he would say such things. I think he should be sent to the corner to think about what he has done, because, let me assure this House, his opinion is not typical of Quebeckers.
We are sick of hearing the Reform Conservatives say that we are threatening Canadians with jail time if they do not complete the census questionnaire. First of all, as we know, the census has been mandatory since 1918. That is important to emphasize—1918, one year after the National Hockey League was created. My colleague, from Edmonton, an MP and secretary of state, will like that, since he once worked for the Edmonton Oilers, a team that has had its share of glory days.
Once again, it should be stated that all the opposition parties—there are thee in the House—agree with eliminating the jail term. We do not want people to go to jail because they do not fill out the census form. I will say it again so that they understand. We do not want people to go to jail because they do not fill out the census form. I saw my colleague from Ottawa—Orléans nod his head and we agree on this aspect. This measure needs to be taken out; it makes no sense.
More than 300 organizations and municipalities, including the City of Gatineau, are opposed to the Reform Conservatives' unscientific approach that will deprive them of statistics essential to the well-being of their citizens. Once again, this government has demonstrated its hostility towards science with this decision. All scientific organizations and university professors are calling for the mandatory long form to be reinstated as it is the best method for obtaining a representative sample of the whole society. A voluntary sample would never be approved by researchers given the unrepresentative characteristics of the answers received.
It is clear that by eliminating the long form census the Reform Conservative government is hoping to dilute science—which is appalling and sends a chill down my spine—and then be in a better position to discredit it. It is frightening. This tactic could be used to weaken social programs at various levels of government. Instead of fixing and eliminating the issue of poverty, one way for a right-wing government to avoid action is by hiding it. A voluntary survey could have that effect by under-representing many social groups, even entire regions or cities, where there are underprivileged populations. It needs to be said.
How are we to justify measures to help society's poorest and our linguistic minorities when the data are incomplete and unreliable? That is a fair question, and the answer is understandable. This makes no sense to do this. It should not be done. But it will be easier to justify imposing what we all know is an appalling right-wing Reform Conservative agenda opposed to scientific progress when the picture of reality is distorted by poor-quality statistics.
A voluntary census will make it much easier for this Reform Conservative government to better justify its ideological, demagogic measures by ignoring reality whenever reality does not suit its purposes.
Even Munir Sheikh, who resigned on July 22 from his position as Statistics Canada' chief statistician, said so. He sent dozens and dozens of emails urging the government not to do this. This man of principle took a stand against the government, then he resigned because he did not want his reputation blackened by the lack of scientific rigour favoured by a government that is not acting in the best interest of Canadians and Quebeckers.