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Statistics Canada offices in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Statistics Canada offices in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Legal Battle

Court to fast-track census challenge Add to ...

The Federal Court has agreed to expedite hearings on a requested injunction to stop the Harper government's plan to scrap the mandatory long form census.

On Wednesday morning, the court said it will accelerate proceedings and hear arguments on Sept. 27 and 28 by a francophone group opposed to the Conservative government's census change.

The group, the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada, has been trying to stop the Harper government's census reform, which includes plans to move to a new voluntary survey that statisticians warn will produce a less reliable picture of Canada.

The federation has argued that Ottawa's move violates the Official Languages Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It has warned that without reliable data about francophone numbers in Canada, the ability to accurately deliver government services in French could suffer.

Federal government lawyers had argued a September hearing would leave them insufficient time to prepare their defence.

In a Wednesday order, the dismissed this, saying an accelerated hearing wouldn't hurt the government and ruled that the francophone applicants have proven the need for a speedy decision.

Ottawa has already begun sending the voluntary long form census to the printer.

"They have demonstrated that the proceedings are urgent, that they will become moot, and that the applicants will lose the opportunity to validly put forth their case if the demand is not met and ruled upon in the appropriate schedule," the court said in its order.

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