Canadians leapt like sockeye salmon in the Fraser River at the chance to fill out the freshly returned long-form census this week. It was a stirring sight to see. It appears that on Monday – the day the notices were received in the mail – the sheer volume of people eagerly trying to access Statistics Canada online to fill out the census crashed the site.
Many on social media, where people excitedly posted pictures of their Census Canada mail-out, expressed disappointment when they opened their envelopes, signed on and learned they'd only been given the short-form census. "It's the short-form census that should be abolished," some sulked.
The previous Conservative government had, of course, abolished the mandatory long-form census in 2011. They replaced it with a voluntary National Household Survey – much to the dismay of almost everyone who uses, or knows anything about, census data.
The claim at the time was that the (anonymous) census was a violation of Canadians' privacy. When pressed, as they were by all the other parties on how this could possibly be, Conservatives mentioned the word "bathroom," something the census itself has never done.
As toddlers have long known, and politicians recently discovered, saying the word "bathroom" in a portentous tone guarantees you immediate attention, but this move may not have panned out for the Conservative party.
Deprived of the long-form census, Canadians instead took up their pencils to vote the Conservatives out, and our long-form census is back, and oh, Canada, our home and nerd-filled land, you outdid yourself.
You could not have looked any geekier, Canada, you with your census-site-crashing passion. What with this in the news, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's quantum-computing explainer last month, Canada may end up with a serious math-club immigration crisis on its hands.
At this rate, there'll be huddled mathists camped out along the border, hoping to reach the nerd Nirvana they keep hearing about. They'll be out there completely unable to make a decent campfire, reciting the digits of pi to keep warm, fast running out of X's to solve for, and complaining that "This is nothing like Settlers of Catan."
The census was an odd issue to politicize – a beard tax for the 21st century in some ways, and clearly it struck at the heart of our somewhat secret identity, revealing a massive super-geek side to Canadian culture.
It turns out the people here do not want your bread and circuses, leaders, but their census response suggests they're totally up for pizza and League of Legends. Everything this week indicates that in Canada, Tolkien trivia is the opium of the masses, and I can't help thinking the government should give the census-loving people what they want, and more.
I've written some more census questions that our geeky populace might also enjoy answering.
1. What language do you speak most often at home?
c. Other language – please list. Elvish (please specify Quenya or Sindarin), Klingon, and D'ni are worth double points!
2. What programming language do you use most often at home?
d. Haskell. Also, I'm better than you and I know it.
3. During the week of May 1 to May 7, 2016, were you on temporary layoff or absent from your job or business?
b. Yes, on temporary layoff from a job to which I expect to return.
c. Yes, on vacation, ill, on strike or locked out.
d. Come on, Dark Souls III just came out; don't be such a hard-ass.
4. If your commute is by car, how many minutes does it usually take you to get from home to work, and exactly how much of that time do you spend pretending you are flying the Millennium Falcon?
5. Do Balrogs have wings?
b. Double no.
c. Come on, guys. The "wings" in that passage are obviously a poetic description of the foul servant of Morgoth's shadow and/or aura of darkness!
d. Yes, despite the clear evidence in J.R.R. Tolkien's text, I still think the Balrogs had wings. I probably also think there were elves at Helm's Deep, and I don't have a clue who Tom Bombadil is. I understand that by selecting this option I immediately renounce my Canadian citizenship.
6. Gender. No, not yours – the next doctor on Doctor Who. Any thoughts?
7. Who are Rey's parents?
a. Please write your answer and explain your reasoning in the box below (or accompanying three-ring binder if answering this survey by mail). Answers of 6,000 words or more qualify you for the "StatsCan Just Really Likes Arguing About Star Wars" income-tax credit. Also, you should really come out to our office next Star Wars Day; we're having a marathon (no prequels!) and our census program director-general, Marc Hamel (can you believe his name?!), is going to judge our cosplay contest.
b. Man, I wish that movie had been about Grand Admiral Thrawn; that would have been soooooo cool.
8. During the week of May 1 to May 7, how many hours did you spend working for pay or in self-employment? Include number of hours:
- working for wages, salary, tips and commissions
- working overtime
- working on own business, farm or professional practice, alone or in partnership
- playing EVE Online, because, spreadsheets
9. Star Trek or Star Wars?
a. Live long and prosper.
b. I am a Jedi like my father before me!
10. Kirk or Picard?
a. Can't beat the original.
b. THERE. ARE. FOUR. LIGHTS!
11. DC or Marvel?
b. DC, but you know, the comics and the Animated Universe, not the movies.
12. Do you consent to make your 2016 National Household Survey information available in 2108 (92 years after the National Household Survey)?
c. Not if it's possible to put it in a probe and launch it into space RIGHT NOW!