‘Can you put your wife on the line?’

By Ivan Morgan
October 20, 2023 Edition

I have always had a problem with arbitrary power – authority for authority’s sake. Ivan no like.

Especially government authority. I’m not a crackpot (at least I don’t think I am). I’m not some American nutbar with a basement full of automatic weapons and freeze-dried food. We are all part of a bigger community and have to comply with basic rules that benefit us all. But I do think we have the right not to be unnecessarily bothered by government. The right, if you will, to be left alone. The right – the duty – to question authority

I offer a working example. 

Months ago, my wife and I received a letter from the federal government asking us to fill out a survey on a minor issue (household marijuana use). I read the first paragraph and tossed it in the recycling. This is silly, I thought, and I haven’t the time. Then I thought the better of it, fished it out of the recycling and gave it to my wife – it’s her house too. She read it and it was back in the recycling.

A few weeks later we got another letter, along the lines of “we noticed you didn’t complete the survey we sent you.” Wow, I thought. That’s annoying. Recycled.

I lost track of how many letters we got but there were a few. For some reason the federal government wasn’t taking the hint.

Several months after that, on a Saturday morning, I was busy at my volunteer gig when my cell rang. A woman identified herself as calling from Stats Canada and asked if she was speaking to Ivan Morgan. Yup. Then she asked if I was the Ivan Morgan who lived at – and read out my address. Then she gave me my spouse’s name and asked if she lived there too.

Yes . . . Why?

She told me the federal government had been repeatedly sending my household a survey and not getting a response. I was somewhat taken aback. I asked how they got my cell number? She ignored my question and asked if I was the youngest person in the household (the survey was supposed to be filled out by that person.)  No, I answered. Then its your spouse, she concluded.  How did she know we were married? Didn’t answer that either.

This was starting to weird me out. I, being a Canadian, politely told the person on the phone we were not interested in participating.

She took a bit of a tone. Did I not understand the federal government chose us at random for this survey and it was very important they get accurate data.

I started wondering if this was a scam call. After all, it was a Saturday.

I felt this was getting a little surreal. I told her that’s all very nice, but we pass. Again, a total Canadian. Polite, but firm.

Can I put my wife on the phone, she asked, a little exasperated. We need to hear this from her. I explained she wasn’t with me at that moment. Then she asked me for her phone number. 

That did it. I did not give her my wife’s cell number. I said politely I was done with this call and hung up. 

Since then, the federal government has been sending us more letters and calling my wife (how did they get her cell number?) asking her to respond to their silly survey. (Interestingly, they called her while I was writing this – we now recognize the number and don’t answer). This feels like harassment.

I tried calling federal government departments to see if this was a telephone scam of some sort, but after being told all the buttons to push I got, “All our operators are currently busy . . .”  The reason I don’t think it’s a scam is because no self-respecting fraud artist would waste the effort to pull whatever angle they have on us. Only government would waste that sort of time and money.

I did a little research. Apparently, under the federal Statistics Act, I have to comply.

Here’s the thing. I am not going to.

I am semi-retired now and have the time (and the inclination) to dance with these clowns.

Am I being childish? Unreasonable? Perhaps. I could understand if this was the official census, or a tax investigation. But dope smoking? They are pulling out the big guns for this?

For the record, I don’t mind telling you, gentle readers, I haven’t had a draw in over 15 years and my wife doesn’t smoke pot. Just don’t tell the feds.

Ivan Morgan can be reached at ivan.morgan@gmail.com

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