62% of statistics are made up on the spot


The title of this entry may be a bit facetious, but there is an element of truth to it.  The written word is often taken as absolute gospel.  That’s because most people, understandably, can’t be bothered to verify the facts themselves.  It’s for this reason that I cite my references and sources whenever I quote anything, be it a statistic or a comment.  And when it comes to statistics, I try to use neutral sources, like Statistics Canada, wherever possible.  This way I get the true numbers before the spin has been added.

I was just re-reading Elizabeth Mandelman’s “An Interview with Wendy Cukier” and I found myself dumbfounded by the first sentence:

“In Canada, 85% of female homicide victims are murdered by their partners and in Ontario, possession or access to firearms is the fifth leading risk factor for femicide.”

Something about that number, 85%, just didn’t ring true to me, so I did some digging.  Lo and behold, it’s a complete fabrication.  The numbers for 2007, according to this document, state:

Total Homicides                                                  594

Female Victims                                                    162

Females killed by spouse                                       51

(legal and common law, past and current)

Killed by boyfriend/girlfriend/intimate                     16

(past and current)

The last number isn’t broken down into male and female victims, so for my purposes, I’m going to assume a worst-case scenario and say that all of the victims were female.  That gives us a grand total of 67 women who were killed by their current or previous spouse or partner (51+16=67).  So with 162 women killed in total for the year 2007 that works out to 41% of female homicide victims being murdered by their partners.  Not 85% as was so sensationally claimed in Ms Mandelman’s blog.

Is that still a horrendous figure? Absolutely.  But at least it’s the real figure and not a fabricated number designed to illicit an emotional response from the reader. 

According to the RCMP, there are about 2 million licensed firearms owners in Canada.  Most estimates place the actual number of firearms owners at around 5 million people.  That accounts for roughly 15% of the population of Canada. 

Call me crazy here, but if you’re heading a campaign to bring in new laws that will have an immediate and direct impact on 15% of the population, is it not too much to ask that you tell the truth?

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