|Print Version||Public Policy|
Another long-term senior analyst has left Statistics Canada, citing political interference with freedom to conduct his job in a professional manner. He leaves behind him an agency contemplating program cuts and openly discussing the challenge to maintain its integrity. Any bets that crime statistics will be one of the first candidates for the axe? After all, as Justice Minister Nicholson said flat out last September, the Harper administration is “not governing on the basis of the latest statistics.”
Amidst the bad news, however, shines a beacon of hope. StatsCan officially opened up access to its main database this month. CANSIM (Canadian Socio-economic Information Management System) is a collection of data tables on various social and economic aspects of our nation that includes over 36 million time series. For the past couple of decades, researchers were required to pay a fee for each segment of data requested. Now the data can be downloaded free of charge.
Hopefully this change signals a step in the direction of fostering an open data policy across all government. At the very least, it facilitates a greater degree of scrutiny by a wider swath of civil society which can only enhance the quality and substance of public discourse over time. Ultimately, it may be StatsCan’s best defence against depredations brought about by further political margins of error.
Posted On Feb 09 04:03PM
There seems to be a weird asynchronous movement within this government. On the one hand, it is the most closed and secretive government Canada has ever seen (a top-down communications approach, certainly). But on the other hand, you have Ministers like Tony Clement championing social media and open data movements.
I guess they are all for open government so long as it makes government look good.
Now, if we could just get MPs to disclose their budget spending. That's the kind of open data I'd like to see...
Posted On Feb 06 02:55PM
The Harper Government does not govern on evidence-based information. This much is clear. The fact that they actually fear such evidence is less clear, but may yet be proven. With over 34 million sets of eyeballs on our national statistics now, transparency and accountability must increase. It is an odd government though, where its civil servants feel their best chance for survival is to appeal directly to the electorate. Or is that the appropriate way for them to react, given it is the taxpayer who is paying their salaries?