The former head of Statistics Canada says the agency is in jeopardy due to the government's decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census.

Ivan Fellegi, former StatsCan chief statistician, said the escalating political debate over the census has compromised the agency's independence, on which its performance and reputation are built.

That, in turn, could have far-reaching consequences for Canada, he told CTV News Channel on Thursday evening.

"(The long-form census) is important for the operation of the country because it is used so widely" to allocate funds and plan services, he said.

Fellegi was among a growing number of experts and insiders sounding the alarm Thursday following the shocking resignation of StatsCan boss Munir Sheikh over the census dispute.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff called the resignation "honourable" because Sheikh suffered unacceptable political interference.

The Liberals are asking that the government release all records of advice given to them by StatsCan on scrapping the mandatory long-form sentence.

"Munir Sheikh was forced to resign on a matter of principle," Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said. "The government has triggered complete chaos in Canada's esteemed data-gathering agency which, pre-Harper, had been the envy of the world for its accuracy and integrity."

Other critics include the Bank of Canada, which may need to find alternate sources of information, according to Mark Carney, the bank's governor.

Though the bank does not use raw data from the census, the switch could influence unemployment, household income and productivity statistics issued by StatsCan, he said.

New Democratic Party MP Charlie Angus said the Conservative government is waging an "ideological attack" on data, and becoming a "laughingstock" in the process.

"We need to get this issue dealt with," the Timmins James Bay MP told CTV News Channel on Thursday afternoon.

"I really think at this point Stephen Harper has to send a message that they're listening, that they're willing to listen and they're willing to fix this debacle that they've created."

Industry Minister Tony Clement has said that he received advice on how to implement a volunteer survey, but insiders at StatsCan said the agency officials did not recommend such a move.

The Liberals are asking for Sheikh and Clement to appear at a parliamentary committee next week. They are also asking that the Statistics Act be changed to entrench the mandatory long-form census.

The Conservative government quietly announced that they would do away with the long-form census in June, opting to spend $30 million more on a voluntary survey that will be sent to more homes.

The Tories say the mandatory long form census is "intrusive and coercive" and have said Canadians support them on the matter.

However, statisticians say a voluntary survey will produce unreliable data and the move has been widely criticized by provincial governments, many non-governmental organizations and business groups, among others.