Census Boycotter Willingly Faces $500 Fine, Jail Time
At least one Canadian who refused to fill out the 2006 census forms in protest against U.S. military giant Lockheed Martin’s involvement is being called to court, and may face a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.
The popular pro-Canadian website Vive le Canada (www.vivelecanada.ca) ran a campaign from 2004 to 2006 to protest Lockheed’s involvement with the Canadian census. The campaign, called “Count Me Out” as a response to Statistic Canada’s census campaign “Count Me In”, offered information on Lockheed’s involvement with the census, an email form letter visitors could edit and send to Chief Statistician Ivan Fellegi opposing Lockheed’s involvement, and information on other actions, including the option of refusing to fill out the census forms.
Vive le Canada founder Susan Thompson says that her site started the campaign after receiving requests from members. She was recently contacted by Sandra Finley, a Vive le Canada member and Saskatchewan resident who will be going to court and entering a plea on April 15 over her refusal to complete the census. Vive le Canada is spreading the word and helping organize support.
Thompson says she is certain that there are other census boycotters across Canada because of the tremendous response the website received while running its campaign. According to Thompson, most boycotters felt that a U.S.-owned company, and in particular a military contractor such as Lockheed Martin, should not be involved with the Canadian census, especially during the unpopular Iraq war. Another concern was privacy. It remains unclear whether information gathered by the Canadian census falls under the American PATRIOT Act if gathered in part by a U.S.-owned company. Through the PATRIOT Act, the U.S. military potentially has access to any information held by a U.S. corporation.
“StatsCan did respond to our initial boycott of the census testing in 2004 by limiting Lockheed’s involvement in the 2006 census and later firing Lockheed Martin employees. However, as many of those employees were hired back according to StatsCan itself in a ‘fair competition’ for their old jobs, and Lockheed was still involved in creating the software which processed the census results, our concerns were not completely laid to rest. Two years later, they still aren’t.”
As for the potential legal consequences of boycotting the census, Thompson says that many Canadians such as Sandra Finley are willing to face them.
“We made it clear that not completing the census is illegal in Canada, and that the consequences for boycotting could be jail time and/or fines. However, Canadians across the country were upset enough to make the personal decision to boycott the census despite the potential consequences,” she says. Thompson herself was one of the census boycotters.
She says that the boycott was larger than Statistics Canada has acknowledged.
“Our opinion is that the boycott was widespread, and that one of the main reasons many Canadians refused to participate in the census was Lockheed Martin’s involvement. Even more people across the country didn’t boycott, but agreed that Lockheed Martin should not be involved and sent emails, letters, and other statements in support of our campaign. However, StatsCan probably felt the boycott was damaging to its image, and has done its best to downplay the sell-out of our census and the subsequent outcry.”
“Now that census boycotters are going to court, StatsCan should finally acknowledge that Canadians did not want Lockheed Martin involved with the Canadian census, and don’t want the company involved in any future census information gathering either.”
Census boycotter Sandra Finley says that her refusal to complete the census was, and remains, a matter of principle.
“Through the outsourcing of the Canadian census, my tax money is now adding to the profits of Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is the largest U.S. defense contractor. Why would I participate in the census and be a collaborator with Lockheed Martin? Lockheed Martin makes huge profits from killing. I do not believe in increasing the hatred in the world through killing other people and their children.”
“The out-sourcing of Canadian census work to Lockheed Martin was unnecessary and immoral. I will not be complicit with the Government of Canada in enriching this American corporation. We are supposed to have democratic government, so I am responsible for the actions of my Government. Their use of the threat of jail time to make me conform to an information-gathering document is odious.”
Finley says she would rather go to jail before completing the census form or paying a fine.
For more information contact:
Susan Thompson (780) 322-3325 cell (780) 618-5314 email: [email protected]
Sandra Finley (306) 373-8078 email: [email protected]