Audrey Tobias faces a criminal charge under the Statistics Act, which makes refusing or neglecting to fill in the census an offence punishable by a $500 fine and up to three months in prison.
Tobias, who has become a peace advocate since her time in the Armed Forces, says she decided not to participate in the national census because U.S.-based weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin provides services to the Canadian government to analyze census data.
“It was just automatic that I wouldn’t fill it in,” she told CBC News, explaining she won’t support the company for its role in violent warfare.
“Why is it our country made such a contact?” Tobias said. “It’s an outrage.”
Tobias said she was visited twice by federal employees, and she explained her reasons for not submitting the form. Days later, she received a letter warning her she was being charged with a federal offence.
By law, all Canadian households must fill out a short-form census. About 60 people have been charged for failing to do so, including a British Columbia man who had been hailed a hero for his actions during the Stanley Cup riot in 2011.
Although those convicted could face fines and even jail time, none of the accused who have been charged has gone to prison.
Tobias said she plans to defend her actions in court, scheduled for 10 a.m. ET Thursday.
“I’ll say, ‘Your honour, with respect, I won’t pay the fine,’” Tobias said, “and who knows what he'll say next.”