Candidates for currency

It brought a smile to my face. It made me prouder than I’ve felt about being a Canadian in a while. Although, I think we all might have felt better about the entire episode, had Ottawa considered making such a decision years ago. But there it was, the image of a Viola Desmond on the $10 bill. And when I saw her story in the news, I thought the comment from the Governor of the Bank of Canada was entirely appropriate.

“It was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman,” Stephen Poloz told reporters last Friday.

Mother Corp on my mind

The old CBC Radio building on Jarvis Street in Toronto was home to a different generation of broadcasters.
The old CBC Radio building on Jarvis Street in Toronto was home to broadcasters with a different set of priorities and ethical standards.

I’ve been asked the question a lot over the years. It’s an issue some of friends feel compelled to put to me whenever it comes up. And I feel compelled to respond. But friends and peers have asked it of me repeatedly these past months, in particular, this past week.

“What’s with all this rottenness at the CBC?” people ask.

Changing the landscape

The federal government’s view of the proposed “Haliburton-Uxbridge” constituency, does not include Uxbridge in the southwest corner of the map.

Ottawa, I have learned, has the power to do many things. The federal government can influence the nation’s economy, with Bank of Canada interest rates, stimulus funding and, of course, taxation. It can choose to send the country’s armed forces to war. Ultimately, it has the power to draft, debate and generate the laws that change the lives of all Canadians. But this week, when I opened up one of the Toronto daily newspapers, a special federal government insert dropped out. And I discovered the feds have even greater power than I thought.

“Canada’s electoral map is changing,” the cover of the insert said. “Read about the proposed new electoral map for Ontario.”

Making census of the data

On a hypothetical day, responding to downtown apathy, the township votes against redeveloping the main street. Or, guessing about a population shift, the public school board makes plans to dismantle one of the town’s elementary schools. And then, wildly projecting buyer trends, several of the big-box stores in town decide to forgo sales for gardeners, truck enthusiasts or on Boxing Day.

Canadian long-form written census.
Canadian long-form written census.

In these make-believe scenarios, the municipality, the board and retailers are quite happy to ignore information readily and often freely provided by Statistics Canada in its regular written census. They would agree with the current Industry Minister’s perception that Canadians can do without the long-form census.

“The state has no right to demand intrusive information,” Tony Clement told reporters, and further that “up to 24 per cent of Canadians believe [they] should not be forced to answer it.”