Canada's Harper government is getting an earful from an influential scientific journal over its decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census.

An editorial in the Aug. 26 issue of the journal Nature calls the decision short-sighted, and says it will lower the quality and raise the cost of information.

The editorial says scientists and policy-makers don't appreciate the value of the census until it's too late to repair the damage.

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Stephen Fienberg and Kenneth Prewitt, a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, wrote the editorial.

The census has become an unlikely political flashpoint this summer since the Tories decided to end the mandatory long form in favour of a voluntary survey.

Munir Sheikh, the former head of Statistics Canada, quit last month after advising the government a voluntary survey would not be as useful as the mandatory form.