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NDP Leader Jack Layton holds a news conference in Ottawa on July 29, 2010. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
NDP Leader Jack Layton holds a news conference in Ottawa on July 29, 2010. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Ideological Divide

Parking woes top census fury, Jack Layton says Add to ...

Jack Layton has had exponentially more complaints about parking problems from his constituents than he has had about the tyranny and intrusiveness of having to fill out the long-form census. And Mr. Layton hasn't been in municipal politics for at least a decade.

The NDP Leader made the comments to The Mark in a video interview released Thursday. He was addressing the controversy around the government's decision to scrap the compulsory long-form census.

Stephen Harper and his government, Mr. Layton charge, manufactured the crisis for ideological reasons.

"I have been an elected person for many, many years and I have never had anyone come to me ever and complain about the census," he said. "I have probably 10,000 times more complaints about parking than I've ever had about the census."

That said, the NDP Leader marvels that Canadians are excited and engaged over this issue.

Mr. Layton's take on the decision is that it fits with the Conservative ideology. By vilifying the census, the Tories are showing that "government is evil, nasty and out to get you, and therefore we should shrink everything that it does."

The NDP Leader says, however, that the jail sentences associated with not filling out the compulsory census should go, calling it a "straw man" in the debate. The Tories point to the jail terms as one of the most egregious aspects of the long-form census.

"And if there are some other adjustments we can make while still having it a mandatory process then great," he said.

Mr. Layton believes the mandatory aspect of the census makes it more reliable. Experts have said the same thing.

And the NDP Leader argues the census is "desperately needed" to provide statistics to provincial and municipal governments and small businesses, for example, that might be trying to decide on the best market in which to locate. Without reliable data, he says, Canadians are "flying blind."

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