Help me, I’m falling into a Mobius Loop

Readers who were around in the 1970s will recall that David Moses and I were the protagonists in a company called Okeedokee. While Okeedokee is still alive and kicking, and runs the Vacancy Information Service for the Island, we have no employees, no other clients, and no office. We are, in the truest sense of the word, a “virtual” company.

And yet, somehow, we ended up on a list at Statistics Canada of “high tech firms we should send a lot of surveys.” And these are not simple surveys — they are detailed beasts about ROIs and employee ratios and technical infrastructure. They are, in sum, not something we have the time or staff to complete, nor are they particularly relevant to our operation.

So we generally ignore them.

But Statistics Canada does not give up without a fight. If you don’t reply, they phone you. And phone you back.

Historically the person who has phoned us to follow up has been parole officer like, and has gone on at some length about our statutory responsibilities, and the importance of contributing to the Greater Good with our information. We have always gotten the impression that they sit beside a red button that, if pushed, will immediately dispatch the RCMP Statistical Noncompliance Squad to our virtual offices.

Today was different though. A very nice woman from StatsCan phoned, and after some complicated dancing about whether she had called Okeedokee or Reinvented, I explained the situation at Okeedokee, and, oddly, she understood completely that it was absurd for us to continue to receive these surveys, and promised to take us off the list.

Before we rung off, she asked for my name. And when I gave it to her she said, “oh, I’ve read your website.”

I’m not sure whether to be overjoyed or deathly afraid.


Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on May 28, 2003 - 02:14 Permalink

I have had a couple of similar run ins with Stats Can. When I laughed at my first Stats Can enforcer/caller, and told her that I had no intention of filling out this huge and non applicable form — I was told that by law I had to comply.

This ability to compel was confirmed by friends. I suspect that Stats can are like the CCRA and have powers that we don’t normally think of.