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MPs grill Tony Clement, top statisticians over census changes

Debate over the Harper government's decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census reaches fever pitch Tuesday when key players appear before the Commons industry committee on Parliament Hill.

The move, made by the Prime Minister in December over the objections of top officials, affects everything from business to policy making and the delivery of social services.

It has been roundly criticized from all quarters and last week forced Canada's chief statistician from his job. In tendering resignation after a lengthy career in the public service, Munir Sheikh issued a stinging public rebuke of the government.

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The Conservatives are standing firm, however, publicly citing privacy concerns and privately casting it as a bid to pare back the "nanny state." Many observers wonder, however, whether the growing backlash will force them to retreat or find a way to compromise.

A day-long airing of grievances is scheduled, with Industry Minister Tony Clement kicking things off at 9 a.m. ET. Mr. Sheikh and his predecessor at Statistics Canada, Ivan Fellegi, are set to appear thereafter. The Globe's Jane Taber will be filing live from the committee room for their testimony.

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<iframe src="" scrolling="no" height="650px" width="600px" frameBorder="0" allowTransparency="true" ><a href="" >Census hearings on Parliament Hill</a></iframe>

Update During his testimony, Mr. Clement announced that Statistics Canada had released the voluntary 2011 National Household Survey. Read it here or in the window below. And for comparison, The Globe's outline of the 2006 mandatory long-form questionnaire is here.

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