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Six months after census furor, Ottawa names new chief statistician

Statistics Canada has a new chief statistician.

Wayne Smith, who has been the interim chief statistician since September, assumes the role, effective immediately, the government announced Tuesday.

The appointment comes after considerable turmoil at the Crown agency. Controversy erupted last summer, after the Conservative decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census sparked criticism from economists, community leaders, doctors and academics. In July, its top statistician, Munir Sheikh, quit after the government publicly said the agency is not independent.

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Since then, European Union officials and others have said the independence of every country's statistical agency should be enshrined in law.

Statistics Canada employs about 6,000 people and runs about 350 surveys a year, along with a census every five years, producing reports on virtually every aspect of Canadian life, from inflation and the labour market to health and consumer trends. It has widely been considered one of the most respected such agencies in the world.

Mr. Smith, who was not available for an interview, has worked at Statscan since 1981. He became director of communications in 1990 before progressive roles saw him become the assistant chief statistician in the business and trade statistics field in 2009.

He has an MA and BA in economics from Carleton University.

Mr. Sheikh, meantime, is now an adjunct professor at Queen's University's school of policy studies and a visiting scholar at Carleton Univeristy.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More

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