Citizen Action Monitor

Canadians want a more participative democracy – Is Team Trudeau listening?

“People expect the government to include them early and often in the design of policy and programming choices that affect them.”

No 1560 Posted by fw, January 8, 2016

“Justin Trudeau’s advisers are warning that the federal government needs to do a better job of connecting with Canadians — especially online — in order to keep pace with ever-evolving public expectations. The new landscape is being shaped by policy complexity, rapid technological change, limited finances and increasing demands for citizen involvement, say internal briefing memos prepared for the prime minister. More and more, people expect the government to include them early and often in the design of policy and programming choices that affect them, say the notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.”Canadian Press/National Observer

Following up on yesterday post, Trudeau government fails to meet TPP promise to “ensure Canadians are consulted”, which zeroed in on a need for the feds to enhance communication channels, with the public, in one area, international trade; today’s post prods Team Trudeau to bulk up connections with the public across the board. After years of being ignored by the Harper regime, Canadians are primed and ready to speak out to a government that says it wants public input. The question remains: will they be listening and, more importantly, acting on our input? As yesterday’s post revealed, so far, not so good. Beware: Steep Learning Curve Ahead.

Below is a repost of the Canadian Press story. (Note: The source of featured image for this post is unknown, so do not presume it reflects Canadian public opinion). Alternatively, read the original piece by clickTring on the linked title below.

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Feds must meet public’s digital demands for inclusion, transparency: memos by The Canadian Press / National Observer, January 5, 2016

Justin Trudeau’s advisers are warning that the federal government needs to do a better job of connecting with Canadians — especially online — in order to keep pace with ever-evolving public expectations.

The new landscape is being shaped by policy complexity, rapid technological change, limited finances and increasing demands for citizen involvement, say internal briefing memos prepared for the prime minister.

More and more, people expect the government to include them early and often in the design of policy and programming choices that affect them, say the notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

“There is a gap in Canada between how citizens communicate with each other and with private sector service providers (e.g. banks) and their experience with the federal government,” says one memo.

In order to remain relevant to Canadians, the government needs to focus on delivering high-quality, factual digital content.

However, government is often bogged down by red tape, the need for signoffs from various layers of management and barriers to effectively spending money and assigning people to tasks, the notes say.

The memos point out other problems and hurdles:

— the access-to-information system that allows people to make formal requests for government files is “time-consuming and expensive to administer”;

— Canadians are “broadly concerned and uncertain” of how the government uses their personal information, whether it be for law enforcement, national security or other purposes;

— the government is grappling with cyber threats to its information holdings from so-called ‘hacktivists,’ criminals and others.

The notes suggest updating the outmoded 2006 federal communications policy to reflect the “voracious demand” from Canadians for online information and the rising use of mobile devices.

Information published on the prime minister’s website and social media accounts must be factually accurate and non-partisan — tenets that should be enshrined in a new communications policy, the advisers say.

Government advertising is seen to be “partisan in nature” at times, another shortcoming that must be addressed in the revised policy, the notes stress.

The Conservative government was pilloried by critics for lavish multimillion-dollar ad campaigns that seemed to convey little useful information.

The Privy Council Office is already working with Treasury Board officials to ensure potential amendments to the policy include “clear accountabilities for non-partisanship” when it comes to ads.

These days, many policy problems — from climate change to terrorism and security — develop and shift rapidly and unexpectedly, with little time for government to analyze and respond effectively, the notes say.

The federal public service is responding by trying to support innovation across government and highlighting successful pilot projects and new approaches.

For example, Heath Canada is using number-crunching tools to assess and predict whether imported consumer goods are likely to comply with health standards before they enter Canada.

The Trudeau government “could consider making a high-level, public commitment” to encourage departments to take such new paths, the notes say.

However, other challenges lie in attracting young, skilled workers to the public service and ensuring federal agencies are free of harassment and discrimination.

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This entry was posted on January 8, 2016 by in information counterpower, political action and tagged , .
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