The Bloc Québécois says it has a compromise solution to the census spat — and it involves replacing jail sentences with lesser penalties.

Leader Gilles Duceppe said Tuesday he's hoping to convince Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reconsider his plan to scrap the mandatory long-form census form.

He said the government can keep the mandatory long-form census, and still do away with the threat of prison.

Duceppe suggested the government could simply withhold services — like a passport or employment insurance — until people complete their census form.

"There are rights — and there are also responsibilities — for citizens," Duceppe told reporters.

"We can tell people, 'Well, if you refuse, certain government services won't be provided to you for as long as you refuse.' A passport, for instance. employment insurance, for instance….

"That could be an alternative. We'll see. We're open to all suggestions, as long as the census remains in place."

There's no shame, Duceppe said, in admitting when you've made a mistake and he hoped Harper might do just that.

The prospect appears unlikely. The census decision has drawn out a number of critics, but the prime minister has given no indication of being swayed by them.