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Census Objector – When Grizzly Atatcks

Census Objector – When Grizzly Atatcks

In the summer of 2010, the federal Conservatives took a lot of flak for doing away with the mandatory long-form census. The idea was that government should not be coercing people to share their private information. We now have a case study in how such laws can harm otherwise law-abiding citizens.

On Wednesday, an Ontario judge acquitted 89-year-old Audrey Tobias of refusing to fill out the 2011 census. Ms. Tobias faced time behind bars for refusing to pay a fine levied after this refusal. It’s a case that never should have gone to trial in the first place.

Ms. Tobias is a peace activist who objected to the fact that census data is processed by software developed by Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defence contractor. I don’t necessarily agree with her position — there’s nothing wrong with our government procuring the best software on the market, regardless of whether the company that makes it also produces fighter jets. But Ms. Tobias should be applauded for standing up for her convictions, even when the state came after her in the courts.

Not only did Ms. Tobias show the courage of her convictions, she did so quietly, without grandstanding. It’s been two-and-a-half years since she refused to fill out the census, but the first media reports of her ordeal weren’t published until January, after she and 53 other individuals were charged under the Statistics Act. If the Ministry of Justice had simply left this grandmother and Second World War veteran alone, no one would have been the wiser.

Grizzly attack

Brian Braconnier and Keith Farkas, of Fernie, B.C., were scouting the area around Mount Proctor, in the province’s southeast Interior, on Wednesday morning for the upcoming hunting season when they came between a grizzly mother and her cub.
“I heard a growl, and then we both heard a second growl, and we said, ‘What was that?'” said Farkas.
“And before we could react, she was on us … She knocked [Braconnier] over, hit him in the back and took him downhill out of my sight behind some shrubs.”
After the bear swiped Braconnier four times and swung him through the air by his arm, he managed to hit back with some bear spray.
“She was right there — arm’s distance — I hit her with some bear spray,” Braconnier recalled. Undeterred, the bear turned on Farkas, who was fumbling with a shotgun.
Feared for the worst
“When I saw her coming back up the hill, I had been fumbling with unstrapping the shotgun off my back, fumbling with shells,” he said

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Sir Wilfred Laurier
Wilfrid Laurier’s ideas on Immigrants and being a Canadian in 1907.

‘In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes a Canadian and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet a Canadian, and nothing but a Canadian.

There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is a Canadian, but something else also, isn’t a Canadian at all. We have room for but one flag, the Canadian flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language. And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the Canadian people.’

Wilfrid Laurier 1907