I can't frame this issue better than George Jonas did in Saturday's National Post. In a column titled None of their business, he wrote about his encounters with the Statistics Canada bureaucracy that assures us that the long-form census is a "necessary evil" and they only have our best interests at heart:
I'm making light of my conversation with Census Canada, but in fact it's not a laughing matter. For an official to suggest--and perhaps sincerely believe-- that it's not intrusive and impertinent for Census Canada to ask citizens their roommates' or common law partners' name (and therefore sex), or that the government "needs" such information for "statistical purposes," shows that by now our bureaucrats suffer from more than simple arrogance or insensitivity. They sincerely believe that if they "need" to know the name and sex of our roommates, we ought to tell them. After all, they aren't asking out of idle curiosity but for reasons of state. If that doesn't override our feeble rights to piffle such as privacy or dignity, what does?
Our social-engineering elites and martinets suffer from Sun-king-ism, the kind of megalomania that made Louis XIV utter "l'etat, c'est moi." Scary enough coming from the Sun King. When it starts coming from Assistant Chief Statisticians, it's time for the men with the butterfly nets.
Now that Tony Clement has started fixing up the asylum, a few candidates for the padded cells are coming to their senses. Oh, well, perhaps we went a tad overboard, they say. Maybe that long census form was a little too long. Maybe we don't need to ask all those questions. Hey, Tony, how about half? What do you say?
Evil, yes, in other words; necessary, not so much.
Call it half-unnecessary evil. I rest my case.