Monsef Tour Poster-1-blank by Laurel L. Russwurm CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

Monsef Tour Poster-1-blank by Laurel L. Russwurm CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

News Responses Don’t Count If You Refuse To Disclose Household Income and Other Personal Information

The government’s survey/consultation/questionnaire launched yesterday to a steady stream of criticism as the initiative does not follow the typical consultative approach. Rather than asking direct questions about public electoral preferences, there are a series of questions on “values, preferences, and priorities” that are supposedly designed to discern user preferences. The questions focus on representation, parties, and voting rules (there are several questions on electronic voting that ask if there is support even if the systems are less secure).

The initiative is being run by Vox Pop Labs and the site’s privacy policy advises that the Privacy Act and PIPEDA apply.  However, dig into the policy and you learn that users that do not provide detailed demographic information – including age, gender, education, household income, profession, language, interest in politics, and postal code – will not have their responses considered as part of the study. The specific provision states:

You do not need to provide your name to use However, you will be asked to complete a profile about yourself. You may be asked to provide us with your gender, year of birth, level of education, household income, and other demographic information. The purpose for collecting this information is for Vox Pop Labs to ensure that the overall results of the study are representative of the Canadian population. While answering the profile questions is optional, not answering these questions will result in your input not being included as part of the overall results of the study. [emphasis added]

The demographic information may or may not be personally identifiable. For Canadians in large communities, it may be difficult to identify a particular person. For those from smaller communities, the combination of postal code, profession, education, gender, age, language, and possible identification with certain groups could be enough to identify a specific person.  Regardless, it is inappropriate for a government-backed consultation to require Canadians to provide detailed demographic information in order for their opinions to actually count.

Update 12/8/16: The government has updated the privacy policy by dropping the language indicating that not answering personal information would result in the input not being included. The new policy states:

You do not need to provide your name to use However, you will be asked to complete a profile about yourself. You may be asked to provide us with your gender, year of birth, level of education, household income, and other demographic information. The purpose for collecting this information is for Vox Pop Labs to ensure that the overall results of the study are representative of the Canadian population by weighting the data against population data such as the census. While answering the profile questions is optional, not answering these questions will result in your input not being included as part of the weighted results of the study. Aggregate statistics for all responses will still be included in the final report.


  1. The demographic information is likely being required so that “cross tabs” can be run on the results to see if certain groups feel the same way, a common practice in consumer market research. But it is more than a little creepy when the government asks for it, and thee’s no explanation about how th einformation will be used.

  2. The survey also asks for your postal code, which narrows down your location to one rural route, one apartment building, or a handful of houses. Combined with the other information collected, it’s hard to argue that it’s not personally identifying.

  3. The Federal government already has all of that demographic information, linked to names, through the CRA. Someone wanting to re-identify survey responses wouldn’t have to try very hard at all…

    • For very good privacy reasons, personal income tax data is very tightly controlled. Yes the government *could* link the two databases, but they’d probably have to rewrite the Privacy Act first which would be a monumental task.

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  5. This survey doesn’t ask specific questions about electoral reform. It’s one of the worst surveys that I’ve ever completed. I hope that my answers reflect my opinion to continue with our first-past-the-post electoral system. To change to a preferential ballot would endanger us to continual minority governments like Italy. There was no mention on the survey whether a referendum should be held to change our system; which I believe is the only democratic way. The government should scrap the survey along with its authors and prepare a more meaningful survey that has choices specifics.

    • Agree

    • norma lancaster says:

      I agree. Lets have a referendum, slow down and do it right.

    • norma lancaster says:


    • You do realize that first-past the post is a counting method right? The options are NOT FPP and proportional with lots of small parties.

      There are two questions, number of MLAs, and how you vote for them.
      For example, we can use the entire existing riding system one one representative per riding, but have a ranked ballot to vote on our one representative. Also known as runoff-voting (see Australia) and there would be NO change in how the parties are represented in parliament. But still VASTLY improves the electoral process.

    • AGREE 100% Leave it alone.

    • Agree

  6. The responses are a joke. It told me I was an “Innovator” despite being strongly opposed (almost off the chart) on two things Innovators, more than any other group, hold dear. Clearly a least-squares analysis wasn’t done. Gee, I wonder why… (Also, something fishy with those charts vs the map below them… )

    Is there some way to impeach Monsef? I have never felt so personally abused by an MP.

  7. Bruce Elrick says:

    I can see their reasoning. If they get lots of responses from an identifiable group, then it could distort the results. And yes, I hate even using the term identifiable group.

    But imagine if, say, a political party does a lot of work encouraging members to respond to the survey, and further imagine if they “help” by providing sample answers designed to sway the survey in one direction.

    That type of gaming of open web surveys is quite common (see Stephen Colbert’s campaign on the naming of an eastern European bridge, or Boaty McBoatface).

    I don’t like the tribal them vs us of political parties, which is why I always vote but I never join political parties.

    In general special-interest groups, of which political parties are just one example, encourage exactly the wrong type of thinking – thinking about special interests ahead of all of our collective interests – that badly designed electoral methods like first-past-the-post encourage.

    • Bruce … the entire poll is meaningless.

      Inviting people to self-select their participation cannot result in a balanced sample.

      Dropping some participants places all the results in doubt.

      Having undecisive and unclear questions, or questions with a built-in bias, can only lead to one-sided responses.

      The whole thing is a waste of money.

  8. Bob Chandler says:

    If you block Facebook tracking cookies with you get a blank page. I’ve tested this in both Firefox and Chromium. If you allow Facebook cookies then the site miraculously appears.

    Why does require the enabling of Facebook tracking cookies? What is the government up to?

    • CIMS is running in the background (Constituent Information Management System), It is a data script looking for Donors and Volunteers for Party activities. The conservatives Run the Same data mining tools.

  9. was repared for atech on voting systems.
    (or types of municipal governments, really)

    got a survey designed to isolate the opinionated.

    designing a pol-cor pack is my guess.

  10. Claude Dubois says:

    I took the survey and indeed I was expecting something different. But, in the end, it was educational. Essentially, it said that if we change the way we populate the House, we will be changing the way we govern. And there will be trade-offs… and, if we have anything but PTP, it will be almost impossible to have a majority party governing again. Critical as we may all be of this survey, I do hope a good number of Canadians take it anyway. Perhaps it will allow the common-folk like me to better understand what we would really be voting for in the referendum.

  11. Think Twice says:

    The very fact that people are discussing this in detail makes the poll meaningful. It may not provide information to help make a decision, but to get people thinking and talking about electoral reform is a real and meaningful thing.

    • Really? There is nothing wrong with our electoral system, and voting via paper ballots is the most secure and tamper-proof method. That’s why Trudeau wants to change it.

      This survey is going to be used as a tool against Canadians in the future.

  12. Leave all things of voting etc. as they are . We do not need to change as laws or orders on how we vote,, run Government,, enact laws,etc. This looks like method to just please one party. We don’t need it. All people here in Canada regardless of religious belief, politics should obey all Canada;s laws and Canada comes first,, if they don’t like it they have the option of leaving.

    • Ed Roski Jr. says:

      You’re an idiot, like most everyone else of the right-wing extremists here. Yes we do need to change how we govern. Canada is one of 4 countries – America, Canada,, England, India – left on the planet – on the planet! – that still uses first-past-the-post instead of proportional representation. It’s the reason for such massive voter decline. Why bother voting if you won’t be represented? PR guarantees that no vote is wasted and everyone has a say. Of course, all you far-right fascists love autocracy and authoritarianism and hate actual, real democracy because you hate everyone else who doesn’t goosestep with you in lockstep.

      And obeying laws blindly is how you give rise to fascist parties like the Nazis – a wet dream for those of your ilk. All people of good character have a moral obligation to oppose unjust laws.

      And if they don’t like it leave? And go where? Believe me I’ve looked at the options and there isn’t anywhere to go unless you’re a refugee. If I could leave I would, so I wouldn’t have to deal with morons like you anymore. Canada is a hick backwater on the global stage and I would gladly quit it if I could.

      • norma lancaster says:

        If we have PR and a party wins with the majority, would we not have to follow any laws they would introduce? How would we change them without waiting for another election. We have to believe that we don’t elect a radical. I don’t disagree with you. I can also see why you feel you wish you could go somewhere else. But where? What changes would you make in the country other than the electoral system in question? I feel like you that Canada is not a first class country on the world stage

      • Susan Victoria says:

        What’s your problem, insulting people who don’t share your opinion?

        I used to think proportional was the way to go. I changed my mind. I used to be Liberal, Green, NDP and now am Conservative aka center-right.

        You say ‘It’s the reason for such massive voter decline.’ FALSE.
        Most people don’t follow politics and don’t trust politicians. And now, more are coming to realize they are being had by the news media also. That is why people do not vote.

        You say obeying laws blindly gives rise to fascism… What are you talking about?

        Anyway, you don’t know it but you certainly do have a problem seeing the stream of invectives you spew. Regards.

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  14. Bindar Dundat says:

    If you think your vote means anything, research the UN’s Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 and you’ll see what’s really going on. Globalism is creeping forward and destroying national sovereignty.
    Wake up, people!
    “There are none so enslaved as those who think they are free.”

  15. The Liberal Party wants electronic voting such that they can fudge/manipulate the votes fraudulently like has been done for decades in the US.

    The Liberals are also wanting to implement more Left wing/Progressive/Socialist policies and ideology in our parliamentary system and our national electoral process.

    Trudeau is trying to make Canada akin to Europe. He is a dangerous globalist and Socialist and hopefully Canadians will clue in to his agenda.

    • norma lancaster says:

      Perhaps this is why he likes the Chinese so much and don’t forget what he thought about Castro. As the news is reporting he is encouraging Chinese interests in Canada and Chinese Visa Students. At this rate our kids will have a hard time getting into university. They are even buying old schools to start teaching chinese students here in the primary grades. Don’t know if this gets them past the Visa requirements

  16. paper ballots work because of our smaller population , and seems to have worked well so far . Not sure I trust electronic voting as there seems to be so many hackers who may infiltrate and change the count. How can you make it safe and is it possible to ensure that it stays safe.

  17. the stupidest survey i have ever taken. all i want is trudeau to keep the promises on electoral reform that he made.

  18. I get a blank page using Firefox with privacy turned on.

    Note to Liberal government: you are failing in your communications with the public.

  19. kim hennessey says:

    This is a total load of crap, it is useless!!!! We need a referendum, not a dam survey! And we need a Canadian, not an illegal Immigrant in charge of this!!!!

    • norma lancaster says:

      I agree. Lets have a referendum. I would like to be represented in cabinet by someone with at least 1 generation being born here.

  20. What happens with all these psychological profiles after the survey is complete? After filling out the survey I realized just how much information they’ve gathered here and I would be interested to hear what psychology professional has to say about what can be gleamed from the forms.

  21. Alison Creekside says:

    Michael Geist, have you asked them for a Privacy Impact Assessment?

  22. Pingback: Responses Don’t Count If You Refuse To Disclose Household Income and Other Personal Information – WP RSS Aggregator Advanced Demo

  23. M. McKinnon says:

    Do a referendum, and do it properly. The Gov’t needs to listen to the voters and not send out surveys that only give the answers they want.

    DO ..We need a referendum AT WHAT COST we still have the big red ball in NL Can not do much about that anyway just try again in 4 years

    Do away with that nonsense of “CALLING AN ELECTION’ by the
    ruling government.

    • norma lancaster says:

      I agree with the above. It will stop governments from springing snap elections in their favour

  26. Claus J.Frank says:

    give each region equal headcount for voting.

  27. As a university educated, well read, and well spoken individual, I am alarmed that, no matter how I approach this survey, sober or intoxicated, I can make no sense of it, having trashed it several times. My stupidity obviously is evident in my giving it a second and third chance though the resulting frustrations were identical. How can accumulated responses hold any other translation / meaning than those who created the survey choose to use as their own measure. What a mess!

  28. To those demanding a referendum now: we have learned in the past that a referendum is doomed to fail when people aren’t well informed about what they are voting on. If a survey asked direct questions to gauge the public’s knowledge of alternative voting systems and appetite for electoral reform, in prep for a referendum, that would be one thing. But what we have instead is a process that has already invalidated itself in several ways. I see no point in participating, and would rather send my opinions to my local MP. But FWIW, I believe a made-In-Canada form of mixed-member proportional representation is the progressive way to go, and need not doom us to endless minority governments and fractured niche parties, as some have suggested. Trash the existing survey Ms. Monsef. Logically, every individual MP, as the most direct representative of the people, would do a better job of collecting public opinion on electoral reform UNDER THE DIRECTION of the federal government in a non-partisan and unencumbered process.

    • norma lancaster says:

      I agree with the above. It will stop governments from springing snap elections in their favour. Also MPP type offers lists with proportionate numbers for women, visible minorities and other diverse Canadian groups and I don’t think there should be any special consideration given to specific groups. Party and candidates should be elected on merit. Also we would have to wait to know who won even after voting to see who is going to support who is a majority isn’t won

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  30. A person’s vote is the property of that individual, not that of any temporary collection of party politicians to change in its operation. Whatever they come up with in terms of suggested changes, a national referendum seems indispensable. I am not submitting my responses here, seeing several red flags. “Political scientist” is arguably an oxymoron — but whatever the issues with the questions (validity? reliability?), the responses of a self-selected non-random sample cannot legitimately be extrapolated by statistical inference to a greater population. And I for one would not accept as an elected representative anyone for whom I had not had a chance to vote directly in that capacity.

  31. I go to and keep getting a blank page.
    Maybe my isp is marked and they do not want people in my area replying to them.

  32. Derek Hodge says:

    I question the validity of a survey with self selected answerers.