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Head of Statistics Canada resigns citing lack of independence

An employee make his way to work at Statistics Canada in Ottawa on July 21, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.
An employee make his way to work at Statistics Canada in Ottawa on July 21, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.

OTTAWA – Wayne Smith, the head of Statistics Canada, is resigning, saying the independence of his agency is compromised by new information-technology arrangements.

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

Smith says in the email he can’t support federal initiatives to centralize IT services that effectively compromise the independence of Statistics Canada, which the federal government purports to protect.

He says he does not wish to preside over what he describes as the decline of a world-leading statistical office.

The battle of over IT is part of a larger issue regarding Smith’s push to prevent political considerations from affecting the work Statistics Canada does, such as the decision of the previous Conservative government to make the long-form census a voluntary survey.

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The Liberals promised in the election to give Statistics Canada more independence from government intervention and were expected to table legislation this fall to follow through on the pledge.

Anil Arora – currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada – will become Chief Statistician of Canada, effective September 19, 2016, according to the office of the prime minister.

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