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It Doesn't Make Census!

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Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada

May 11, 2006

It Doesn't Make Census!

The world's largest weapons manufacturer is processing Canada's census forms

by Chris Arsenault

Lockheed-Martin's stock value has tripled since the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of "The War on Terror." photo: Jacob Rolfe
It's census time in Canada again. This year is the first, however, that the world's largest weapons manufacturer will be paid millions to crunch the nation's numbers.

Lockheed-Martin, which supplies Bradley fighting vehicles, F-22 warplanes, and other weapons to the American military, has been awarded the Canadian government's contract to process data from the census.

Some Canadians aren't happy about their tax dollars enriching a company whose existence is predicated on perpetual war; a few are even advocating people boycott the census until a public company - without military connections - is re-installed.

"Boycotting the census is about refusing to line the pockets of a company that actively seeks out more war to sell its weapons of mass destruction, nuclear arms, depleted uranium and weapons banned in Canada like land mines," says Tracey Glynn, a peace activist based in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Lockheed-Martin posted more than $31 billion in revenue in 2003. According to Human Rights Watch, part of this revenue came from producing components for land mines. Land mines don't differentiate between soldiers and toddlers and they continue killing long after peace treaties are signed.

According to Michael Barton, Lockheed's media relations officer in Canada, the company "is providing an automated data capture and coding system that will digitally capture information from respondent census questionnaires." He assures citizens of the 12 million households receiving the census that, "information collected will be under the control of Statistics Canada at all times."

When the census contract was first being discussed in 2002/03, StatsCan officials were to give Lockheed full control over all the data. StatsCan was forced to change the nature of the contract, however, due to public pressure - including a mass e-mail campaign coordinated by groups like CountMeOut.ca, and ViveLeCanada.ca.

"Given the public concerns, we have decided to limit the scope of this contract," said Ivan P.Fellegi, chief statistician of Canada, when the change was announced. "Under the new arrangement, only Statistics Canada employees will have access to completed census returns."

Pressure changed the policy once, and New Brunswickers like Tracey Glynn hope that, by boycotting the census, they can alter it for good.

Fellegi urges people not to boycott the census, arguing that it is a crucial and positive public policy tool. Critics are not debating the value of the census, however, but the moral backwardness of supporting a company that manufactures weapons of mass destruction.

Lockheed's stock value has tripled since the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of "The War on Terror," reports The New York Times. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a non-partisan national think tank, recently rated Lockheed Martin as one of the 10 worst corporations in the world.

According to Dana Brown a member of the Fredericton Social Network, "Through administering our census, Lockheed is profiting off of public tax dollars and now ordinary Canadians have innocent blood on their hands."

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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