Liberals can restore long-form census for 2016, if they act quickly, observers say
There is hope among political observers and politicians that the incoming Liberal government will reinstate the long-form census, potentially in time for it to be used next year.
What "immediately" means in the context of the new government, however, is not immediately clear.
The new government won't see its new cabinet sworn in until next week. The Liberals have yet to say when the House of Commons will be recalled.
Cheryl Collier, an associate professor of political science at the University of Windsor, said that restoring the census is something that can be done quickly if there is the political will to do so on the part of the government.
"Sometimes when we get a government coming in that wants to signal things are different this time around, they will do a policy reversal on something that didn't resonate well with voters," she told CBC News in an interview this week.
Collier said that's what happened in Ontario in 1995, when the Mike Harris-led Progressive Conservatives took power and quickly ended the use of photo radar in the province.
"It was a signal that we're here, we're doing something different," said Collier, who expects the Liberals will move quickly on the long-form census issue.
Munir Sheikh, the former head of Statistics Canada, has said that if the Liberals act quickly, they will be able to restore the old census by 2016.
"I think the new government has made it very clear they want to bring the census back," he told CBC Radio's As It Happens last week.
New census packages must be ready to mail out by May 2. The long-form census, if brought back, would have to be distributed to about 2.9 million households.
That suggests that the sooner the Liberals start the process, the more likely it is for the census to be in effect next year.
Brian Masse, the newly re-elected member for Windsor West, believes the Liberals can make it happen by harnessing the power of their newly acquired majority status.
"If it's rushed right now, if it goes through, there's time," he said in an interview. "But it has to happen sooner rather than later, so time is of the essence."
With files from the CBC's Dale Molnar