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Wayne Smith, Head Of Statistics Canada, Quits On Point Of Principle

Wayne Smith, Head Of Statistics Canada, Quits On Point Of Principle

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada chief Wayne Smith has resigned, saying the independence of his agency is compromised by new information-technology arrangements.

It marks the second time in just over six years that a chief statistician has quit over a point of principle.

In an email to the National Statistical Council, Smith says Shared Services Canada now holds an effective veto over many of the statistical agency’s operations.

wayne smith
Chief Statistician of Canada Wayne Smith appears before a standing committee in Ottawa on April 12, 2016. (Photo: Matthew Usherwood/CP)

Smith says he can’t support federal initiatives to centralize IT services that effectively undermine the independence of Statistics Canada, which the federal government has committed to protect.

“All of you are aware of my view that this loss of independence and control is not only an apprehension, but an effective reality today, as Statistics Canada is increasingly hobbled in the delivery of its programs through disruptive, ineffective, slow and unaffordable supply of physical informatics services by Shared Services Canada,” says the email, obtained by The Canadian Press.

“I have made the best effort I can to have this situation remediated, but to no effect. I cannot lend my support to government initiatives that will purport to protect the independence of Statistics Canada when, in fact, that independence has never been more compromised.”

Smith says he does not wish to preside over what he describes as the decline of a world-leading statistical office. “So I am resigning, in order to call public attention to this situation.”

The decision of the previous Conservative government to make the long-form census a voluntary survey led to the July 2010 resignation of Munir Sheikh, Smith’s predecessor.

“I cannot lend my support to government initiatives that will purport to protect the independence of Statistics Canada when, in fact, that independence has never been more compromised.”

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