Sunday, May 15, 2011

Privacy, you say?

Flora's 1912 Nature Diary. 99 Years ago, this is what she saw around Ste. Anne de Bellevue. I have her entire Macdonald Portfolio, which I am using in Flo in the City, my novel based on the letters of

I got my census form and filled it out. Nothing to it! Literally. Just a few questions covered householders' ages, and marital status and from then all the questions are about first and second language.

Quite a useless thing, I imagine, this shortform. Nothing about education or profession or income. Why do they even bother?

Hmm. All those questions on language. Why? It would be nice if the info were to be used to give second language funding, because then maybe I could get some working money for Flo in the City. As it is, such funding is hard to come by. We anglos in Quebec are 'a minority within a minority' so we're last on the list. I've heard this from the horse's mouth, so to speak, from the very people responsible for doling out such monies.

At the local meet the candidates debate, the old BLOC MP was asked about this lack of funding for anglophones in our region. She claimed she had been working on getting some, but the money that was available was staying on-island. (See, I did pay attention to what matters to me in the last election!)

Anyway, the weirdest question on this census asked if the person wanted the census information released in 92 years. You had an option to opt out.

Gee, I've posted a great deal about the 1911 census on this blog. How the census man came around and told Margaret to leave out Herb and Marion. How Marion never made it on the 1911 census, and how neither did her future husband, Hugh Blair. (A lot of young people didn't make it because in 1911 a lot of young people were on the move.)

How the Happy Wanderer, Herb Nicholson. did make it on the census, in Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan and how this same census reveals that a young woman and a bartender shared his boarding house.

This would never have happened in Montreal. Boarding house matrons were very careful about selecting boarders and they watched over them closely, as the Nicholson letters reveal. This is why Marion Nicholson works so hard to find a flat where she can live on her own, with her sister and other friends.

And I used the Census to learn about cotton workers in Magog.

Well, all this misguided protection of people's private information: seems to me a LOT like closing the barn doors after the horses have escaped.

There's no personal privacy these days. Not a bit. And it's not just the voluntary ways we release our information on various social networks. Our emails are likely scanned, for keywords, anyway. Our IP providers keep track of what we download (someone I know got a warning for her daughter had downloaded an illegal copy of Dexter and they knew the exact time. (she phoned them and they said they sent out 50 such letters a day); our satelite providers keep track of what we watch, period pieces or porn. (They prefer you download porn as that makes a lot more money for them. How kind! Alas, just reading the bizarro titles of said explicit offerings is entertainment enough for me and my husband.)

We don't have CC TV in Canada, but just wait. I couldn't buy my Malibu without getting ONSTAR. It's built it. That company can track my every move with my car as well as listen in to all my phone calls as they are channelled from my cell phone through the Onstar phone system.

I probably signed all my rights away signing the Onstar contract. It was huge and I couldn't get the car without it.

And the cashless society means quite simply that all our purchases can be tracked, on Interact or the credit cards.

But, it seems, from this 2011 Canadian census, short form, that the government assumes many Canadians don't want historians in the year 2200 to see if they were married or not. We suddenly become bashful when posterity is involved.

I hope these same Canadians erase their Facebook page before they die.