10/10/2013 11:18 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Census appeal by Saskatchewan woman won't go to top court

The Supreme Court of Canada says it won't hear longtime Saskatchewan resident Sandra Finley's appeal of her census case, in which she received an absolute discharge after losing an appeal of her conviction for not filling out the federal form in 2006.

The top court decision comes on the heels of a Toronto judge's ruling that another activist, Audrey Tobias, 89, was not guilty of contravening the Statistics Act for failing to complete the 2011 census.

Finley, a community activist in Saskatoon who once headed the provincial wing of the Green Party, refused to fill out the longer version of the 2006 census. She now lives in British Columbia.

Finley, as well as Tobias, had concerns that Statistics Canada was using the services of Lockheed Martin Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of a U.S. defence contractor. 

The company was contracted to provide software and print the 2006 census questionnaire.

Finley also said the questions were overly intrusive and worried about what would happen to the data.

She was found guilty in provincial court of contravening the Statistics Act. Her appeal was upheld by a Saskatchewan Queen's Bench judge and the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

However, the sentencing judge gave her an absolute discharge, which means no criminal record.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court dismissed her application for leave to appeal.

Charter rights cited in appeal

The case raised a number of issues, including whether Statistics Canada should be permitted to compel personal information from citizens, under the threat of a criminal charge, where the information is collected purely for statistical purposes.

Finley had argued her charter right to privacy was threatened.

As is standard practice, the Supreme Court didn't provide any reasons for denying her leave to appeal.

In the case of Tobias, the judge found she did not have criminal intent, so said she was not guilty of violating the Statistics Act.

Tobias also cited her opposition to Lockheed Martin's involvement with the census form, and was concerned about what would happen to her data.