Retirees wary of Tory census move

Originally published in the Globe and Mail on July 26th, 2010. To go to the Globe and Mail Website please click here

Canada’s seniors, who can be counted on to vote and tend to vote Conservative, are angry over the government’s decision to scrap the mandatory census long form, according to a new poll suggesting Stephen Harper could be punished in a general election as a result. The online poll by CARP – the national, non-profit organization advocating for Canada’s older population – shows too that Canadians 55 years and older do not have concerns about privacy issues related to the census.

Susan Eng, CARP’s vice-president of advocacy, says this group of Canadians prefers the Conservatives when life is just going apace but when “something like this happens they go nuts.” “They start as a Conservative base. They went nuts over proroguing. They were absolutely offended by that. You want libertarians? This is your group of libertarians,” she said, noting the numbers from previous CARP surveys.

Today’s poll is part of a bi-monthly e-newsletter; nearly 4,000 of CARP’s readers responded to this poll, which was conducted over the weekend.

It shows that the Conservatives have lost more than 10 per cent in retired voter preference in the past two weeks – 41.1 per cent would vote for the Tories in the July 12th poll on health care compared to 31.8 per cent in this poll.

The Liberals are at 29.2 per cent in this latest poll compared to 22.8 per cent in the previous on-line poll. Ms. Eng says the poll tells her the government should be listening to retirees, which is make up a solid core of its core voters. Indeed, 77 per cent of respondents say the government should reverse its decision. “And if the government does not reverse its position they will be largely, less likely to vote for the government,” she said.

As well, 91 per cent of the respondents filled out the census form in 2006 with 67.1 per cent saying that they did not find it intrusive. Still, 56 per cent of the respondents say that they would fill out a census if it was voluntary but do not believe (66.2 per cent) that the results would be as accurate. The CARP poll is consistent with findings from a recent on-line Angus Reid poll, which showed that 47 per cent of the 1,012 respondents do not support the government’s decision compared to 38 per cent, who do.

The online survey shows, too, that the disaffection with the government’s position is highest in Ontario (54 per cent) and British Columbia (53 per cent). And more than half of Canadians – 52 per cent – believe the government should reverse its position and keep the mandatory census.

© Globe and Mail

Keywords: census