Loading articles...

Judge to rule on census objector's fate in January

A judge will rule next month on whether a 79-year-old Toronto woman who refused to fill out the mandatory 2011 census violated the Statistics Act.

Janet Churnin was charged with violating the Statistics Act and faces a possible fine and three months in jail. Her trial concluded on Wednesday and Justice Cathy Mocha will issue her decision on Jan. 22.

Churnin says she didn’t fill out the census due to serious concerns over a U.S. arms maker’s involvement in processing data on Canada’s population.

Statistics Canada has said the government hired U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin to provide software for its census operations in 2003, and used the custom-built systems for both the 2006 and 2011 census.

It says Lockheed Martin had no access to its data operation centre or its census response database.

But Churnin’s lawyer has suggested Lockheed Martin could have built a “back door” into its software, which could potentially put the Canadian data at risk.

Peter Rosenthal argued that Churnin’s Charter rights were violated by being required to answer the short-form census.

In 2011, StatsCan received 13 million completed census forms, a 98 per cent response rate. Overall, it referred 54 people for prosecution for failing to complete the mandatory census form.

In October, a Toronto judge lambasted the government for its prosecution of an 89-year-old peace activist who refused to fill out the 2011 census, and found her not guilty.

Audrey Tobias admitted that she refused to fill out the basic personal information the census required because it was processed using software from Lockheed Martin.

With files from CityNews Toronto staff