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Harper government announces plans to repeal mandatory use of metric system
Hot on the heels of the controversy surrounding government’s decision to end mandatory reporting of the census long-form, federal Conservatives have announced plans to introduce legislation that will end mandatory use of the metric system.
Deputy Minister of Industry Tony Spumante rebuffed criticisms that repealing the metric system would lead to confusion and reduce the government’s ability to rely on evidence-based policy-making. “We feel this represents a balanced, made-in-Canada solution,” he said in a press conference on Friday. “We’ve received numerous complaints from Canadians who don’t like the metric system. Other people like it. Our American partners would prefer us to switch to miles and pounds. In order to fairly represent the diversity of Canadian public opinion, we feel the reasonable middle-of-the-road solution is simply to repeal mandatory use of metric and leave it up to the individual to use whatever measurement system they want.”
He noted the new legislation was in line with other ongoing Conservative initiatives to promote deregulation in government policy. “Canada’s New Government has deregulated health and safety standards, labour standards, the telecommunications industry, and now measurement,” he declared proudly. “Research indicates deregulation is the best way to promote industrial growth.”
He also emphasized that it would remain up to the individual to use whichever system they preferred. “If a hard-working Canadian wants to measure their success in miles and pounds, who are we to intrude in their private lives and dash their dreams?” he went on. “That sort of liberal, socialist rhetoric simply doesn’t resonate with the majority of Canadians. The era of big government is over.”
Reaction from the business community was mixed but cautiously optimistic. While some industry associations expressed concern that eliminating the metric system could lead to confusion and disarray, particularly in international trade, others saw it as opening new opportunities. “We think there’s potential, particularly in online sales,” said Biff Cardigan, spokesperson for the Industrial Manufacturers’ Association of Canada. “After all, if a customer purchases 20 units of hairspray online, but it’s up to the vendor to decide what unit of measurement to send them 20 of...we think there’s distinct potential for maximizing the profit margins of Canadian companies.”
The legislation will be introduced in the fall session of Parliament.