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Cartoon highlights tumult over census

An editorial cartoon has gone viral inside the offices of themathematicians, statisticians and economists who work for StatisticsCanada.

An editorial cartoon has gone viral inside the offices of the mathematicians, statisticians and economists who work for Statistics Canada.

The drawing shows Stephen Harper with his hand inside a puppet of Ernie from Sesame Street.
The caption: “Our new chief statistician, he’ll get the answers we want!”

It’s a bit of gallows humour for demoralized staff who have just seen their boss quit over the integrity and independence of their agency.

The cartoon also highlights what most insiders connected to the long-census debacle know: it was the prime minister pulling the strings from the get-go.

A tumultuous month into the public phase of the crisis, Harper’s office is also being blamed within his own government and party for mishandling communications around the issue.

But senior bureaucrats know things could have been far more volatile.

Statistics Canada could have lost both its beloved censuses — short form and long form — if Harper’s administration followed its initial plan.

Harper directed Industry Minister Tony Clement last winter to seek options from Statistics Canada on how it could make the long version of the census voluntary. But sources say his circle’s first instinct was to make the entire thing voluntary — both the short census and the now controversial long form.

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