With their marriage, the Westmans joined the 3,325 married, same-sex couples in Alberta, according to information released Wednesday from the 2011 census detailing the composition of Canadian families and households. It is a dramatic increase from the 510 married, same-sex couples in Alberta reported in the 2006 census. That census was conducted less than a year after same-sex marriage was recognized by the federal government in July 2005.
Uh-huh. Tell me, you weren't including these hitherto-unknown rig-pigs and drillers, laying pipe deep into the night?
An unexpectedly high number of same-sex marriages in places like the oilpatch left census-takers scratching their heads — until they realized many of the "couples" were only splitting the rent.
As a result, Statistics Canada said Wednesday, it may have overestimated by as many as 4,500 the number of same-sex married couples in parts of the country.
A last-minute discovery forced the agency to hold back some census data on gay and lesbian married couples when they realized they couldn't be certain if some people were hitched or only roommates.
So during Wednesday's release of the latest tranche of census data, Statistics Canada only provided same-sex marriage numbers for the country's larger cities and not for smaller communities, where the numbers might be off.
It all amounts to an asterisk in the latest batch of numbers about same-sex marriage in Canada.
"We observed that there was a possible over estimation of same-sex families," said census manager Marc Hamel. "The counts for some smaller communities seemed too high."
Uh-huh. Anybody who thinks this was some innocent "overestimation" is missing the point. If you remember back to the Chretien/Martin era, there was a serious proposal by Statscan to completely omit the tracking of marriages. This would seem to have been at odds with the mission of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Statscan's predecessor, when it was considered to be an important metric. At any rate, after protests by family and pro-marriage groups, the plans were shelved.
And from the first link, no matter how they tried to trumpet it as a startling rise, the numbers are still quite flat:
Overall, gay and lesbian couples made up one per cent Canadian couples counted in the 2011 census.
Which is not too far removed from their estimated 2-3% percentage of the population.
But now they seem downright enthusiastic about collecting this data, no matter how much of it they have to manufacture. Time for more cutbacks, Stephen.