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... and what happens if you don't pay the fine?

Oh, never mind. Already asked, never answered.

"... and what happens if you don't pay the fine?"

There should be alternatives. When you don't pay your parking tickets, they don't throw you in jail but they don't let you renew your liscence sticker. I'm sure the Feds can find something like that.

That's right. Just treat it as a civil matter. If you don't pay, send the bailiff.

An better sanction than jail time: assess the census refusniks a civil fine based on a multiple of the average hourly wage of the census tract in which they reside, based on the data of the census they refused to answer.

Idea: Withhold issuing/renewing passports if fine not paid?

Tack it on their income tax. Let CRA collect it. I hear they're very effective.

Stephen, Patrick:  You guys are really harsh.  Restrict their travel freedoms, send Revenue Canada after them!  What you need to recognize is that lots of citizens dont like being coerced by the state.  Non-payment of taxes is a criminal offence, and you can go to jail for it.  Why don't you just stick with a civil remedy?  If people dont pay, send the bailiff, report them to Equifax, whatever.  But you really have to resist the urge to want to throw them in jail or take away their freedoms if you want to make progress on this matter.

K: My three year old doesn't like being 'coerced' into picking-up his toys, but that's not a good argument for him not doing it.

My view is that the coercion 'issue' is juvenile. It reminds me of a petulant teenager complaining about his parents rules. We all face coercing and limits on our behviour all the time. Whether it's speed limits, criminal law, paying taxes, heck even the price system circumscribes our behaviour and limits our 'freedom' via coercion.

In Canada, citizens enjoy the benefits of a liberal democracy and a welfare state. In return for one of the highest standards of living ever known to the human species, a citizen is asked to do very little: obey the law, pay taxes, and fill in the census. Under extreme circumstances, we add "join the militia" to that list. Noticeably absent is "vote'; we don't even require people to participate in their own government!

The census data is required for the efficient administration of the state. Considering that people are coerced/required to pay their taxes, I think it's also perfectly reasonable to require completion of the census so that those taxes have some hope of doing some good. Thus, completing the census is fulfilling a duty to our fellow citizens and demonstrates respect for their fulfillment of their duty to pay their taxes. So all things considered, I have no problem requiring people to fill in their census forms.

Now, I am explicitly NOT saying that the state should have a completely free hand to collect whatever data it wants. Clearly, the data collected should be collected for a reason, those reasons should be made clear to parliament, and the duly elected representatives of the people should make a decision. But this is not what's happening. The PMO dictated a completely hairbrained policy without consulting anyone who knows anything, and without bringing it to parliament or even committee. Now they are tossing out red herrings in the hope of deflecting the backlash. It's disgraceful.

What a cop-out. Keep the jail sentence.

However, it will most deliciously ironic if the tough-on-crime, knee-jerk, populist Harper Conservative government were to remove the threat of jail for those who don't fill out the form.

And it will be in keeping with the status quo if educated, materially comfortable Canadians were to encourage the Conservatives to drop the penalties. After all these are the same generous, well-educated, materially comfortable Canadians that allow juveniles to commit violent crimes with near impunity. These are the same Canadians that believe in "fairness" and in the process have stomped all over Canadian aboriginals. I can also think of a few generous, fair policies that hurt lower-income Canadians.

What I'm trying to say is that generous, "nice" Canadians are often either woefully uninformed or not so "nice".

"Idea: Withhold issuing/renewing passports if fine not paid?" -SG

That suggestion is almost funny. Should I assume that you have not spent any time at all talking to the core constituency of the Harper Conservative Party?

BTW, this reminds me of the student loan issue. SUGGESTION to students and graduates with loans reading this thread. Do NOT pay them. Nobody enforces the contract. Free-riding is good because that is the generous Canadian way. (We paid them off within two years of graduation but frankly we're stupid.)

Thing is, the proposed changes to the census via decree from the PMO is NOT conservative at all, it's radical. This has never been about privacy or coercion or intrusive government. Those are smoke screens, red herrings. It's about finding ways to hamstringing government and duping a moronic and gullible electorate into cheering it on.

If the conservatives want to have a debate about the legitimate role of government, the welfare state, and personal liberty then by all means do so. Stand-up in parliament and do it. Bring your legislation to parliament, or call an election and get a mandate.

Again I ask: Why oh why can't we have a better opposition?

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