No penalty for Sask. woman who refused census

The Saskatoon woman found guilty of refusing to fill out a long-form census has received an absolute discharge.

The Saskatoon woman found guilty after refusing to fill out a long-form census has received an absolute discharge.

Sandra Finley was found guilty last week in provincial court of violating the Statistics Act and faced a maximum fine of $500 and a jail sentence of three months.

Instead, Judge Sheila Whelan granted a discharge Thursday, which means there will be no penalty.

Finley said she was pleased with the decision.

"I was hopeful," she said. "I did not know what to expect because I totally did not expect a guilty verdict in the first place. So this is welcome."


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Finley, a community activist, refused to fill out the longer version of the 2006 federal census over concerns that Statistics Canada was using the services of Lockheed Martin Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of a U.S. defence contractor. The company was contracted to provide software and print the 2006 census questionnaire.

She also said the questions in the long-form census were overly intrusive and worried what would happen to the data about her.

The Crown said collecting census information is important because it helps the government make decisions about benefits and services for the public. The judge said she agreed and rejected the notion that Finley's Charter rights were violated.

When Finley was charged several years ago, there were mandatory short and long versions of the census.

Last year, the federal government announced it was doing away with the mandatory long-form census and make it voluntary. The short version remains mandatory.

Finley said she'll have to think about whether she'll fill out the next census.