Why did Stephen Harper choose to keep the jail term for not filling out the census?

Ted Hsu
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Contrary to their election promise in 2011, Stephen Harper’s government chose to keep the threat of jail time for not filling out the census.

“Our government committed to removing the jail-time penalties for Canadians who refused to participate in mandatory surveys.” — Conservative British Columbia MP Bob Zimmer, House of Commons Debate, Nov. 7, 2014

“Our government committed to the removal of jail-time penalties for not filling out mandatory surveys.” — Conservative Manitoba MP James Bezan, House of Commons Debate, Nov. 7, 2014

The Conservative majority government had four years to do it. They could have inserted the required two lines into any of their annual “omnibus” bills (those government bills that ran hundreds of pages and changed multiple laws at the same time) but did not. Liberal MP Ted Hsu had a private member’s bill which would have gotten rid of the jail term, but it was voted down.

Instead, in the eleventh hour of this past parliament, the Conservatives had their MP Joe Preston introduce a private member’s bill.

“In keeping with our election promise, the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London has introduced Bill C-625, which proposes to remove the threat of jail time” — Conservative Ontario MP John Carmichael, House of Commons Debate, Jan. 29, 2015

MPs and Senators know that these private member’s bills, unlike government bills, take a long time to make their way through parliament. Liberal MPs voted for it but the bill did not have enough time to get through parliament and died when Stephen Harper called the election. To me, that just looks like cover for wanting to keep the jail term.

Why did Stephen Harper’s Conservative government choose to keep the jail term for not filling out the census?