Canadian WW II vet charged for refusing to fill out census

An 89-year-old Toronto woman is set to face a judge Thursday morning for refusing to fill out the 2011 census form.

Peace advocate Audrey Tobias, 89, objects to Lockheed Martin work on census

An elderly woman faces a criminal charge for refusing to fill out the census 2:10

An 89-year-old Toronto woman is set to face a judge Thursday morning for refusing to fill out the 2011 census form.

Audrey Tobias, a Second World War veteran, faces a criminal charge under the Statistics Act, which makes refusing or neglecting to fill in the census an offence punishable by a $500 fine and up to three months in prison.

Tobias, who has become a peace advocate since her time in the armed forces, says she decided not to participate in the national census because U.S.-based weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin provides services to the Canadian government to analyze census data.

“It was just automatic that I wouldn’t fill it in,” she told CBC News, explaining that she won’t support the company for its role in violent warfare.

“Why is it our country made such a contact?” Tobias said. “It’s an outrage.”

Tobias said she was visited twice by federal employees, and she explained to them her reasons for not submitting the form. Days later, she received a letter warning her she was being charged with a federal offence.

By law, all Canadian households must fill out a short-form census. About 60 people have been charged for failing to do so, including a British Columbia man who had been hailed a hero for his actions during the Stanley Cup riot in 2011.

Although those convicted could face fines and even jail time, none of the people charged has gone to prison.

Tobias said she plans to defend her actions in court on Thursday morning.

“I’ll say, ‘Your honour, with respect, I won’t pay the fine,’” Tobias said, “and who knows what he'll say next.”


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.