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Politics Liberal MP's bill to resurrect long-form census voted down on second reading

The Statistics Canada offices in Ottawa are seen on Tuesday, May 1, 2013. Liberal MP Ted Hsu’s private member’s bill to bring back the long-form census and bolster the independence of the chief statistician was voted down on second reading in the Commons on Wednesday.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Liberal MP Ted Hsu's drive to resurrect the long-form census has come to an end.

His private member's bill to bring back the long-form census and bolster the independence of the chief statistician was voted down on second reading in the Commons on Wednesday.

Bill C-626 had the support of the opposition parties but Conservatives had said they were opposed to the core principles of the bill, arguing it would legally compel Canadians to answer intrusive questions.

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Many groups including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, municipalities and religious groups backed the return of the long-form census, saying the information is needed for important public-policy decision making and civic planning.

The Conservative government axed the mandatory long-form census in 2010, replacing it with the voluntary National Household Survey.

The response rate for the 2006 long-form census was 93.5 per cent, compared with 68.6 per cent for the National Household Survey. Critics say it's difficult to compare data from the two surveys.

Conservative MP Joe Preston has introduced a private member's bill that would remove the threat of jail times on all Statistics Canada surveys, including the mandatory short-form census.

Some Tories have signalled they're prepared to support Preston's bill, which won't get its first round of debate until about March.

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