Citizenship Question Causing an Uproar in U.S. Has Been Part of Canada’s Long-Form Census Since 1901
Kathleen Harris, CBC News, July 6, 2019
A politically divisive debate continues to rage over U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to add a citizenship or nationality question to the U.S. census.
That same question has been part of Canada’s long-form census for over a century without a ripple, although it’s not part of the short-form questionnaire.
Trump has been waging a fierce fight to add the controversial query to the 2020 census, and said Friday he’s now considering an executive order to get it done after a Supreme Court ruling blocked his efforts.
Canada’s own long form census asks: “Of what country is this person a citizen?” Respondents have a choice of three possible answers: “Canada, by birth,” “Canada, by naturalization” or “Other country – specify.”
A spokeswoman for Statistics Canada, which manages the census, said the citizenship data is vital to various programs.
“The citizenship question has a long history on the Canadian census, being introduced for the first time on the 1901,” said Emily Theelen in an email.
“This information is used to estimate the number of potential voters and to plan citizenship classes and programs. It also provides information about the population with multiple citizenships and the number of immigrants in Canada who hold Canadian citizenship.”
Theelen said Statistics Canada’s data quality assessment indicators have not flagged any issues specifically related to the citizenship question. The Library of Parliament could not find any significant debate, controversy or court case related to the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Canadian census form.
Canada conducts a census every five years. The next census is due in 2021.