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Home Policy Articles: Citizen Engagement

A healthy democracy requires a citizenry that is interested and engaged in the political process. Declining rates of voter turnout and interest in politics suggest that Canada faces some significant challenges in involving its citizens in the political process. This part of will monitor the state of citizen engagement in the Canadian political process, assess research in the area, and look at efforts to involve citizens in the political process more actively. Of particular interest are efforts to use the Internet and other new communications technologies to facilitate citizen engagement.



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Citizen and Community Participation: Understanding and Leveraging Its Potential popular

This report, prepared by Sandra Lopes, summarizes the June 2004 roundtable about the ideas and investment framework for citizen and community participation. Lopes identifies seven elements which comprise the spectrum of activity defined as citizen and community participation: public involvement; volunteering and giving; caregiving; environmental stewardship; belonging; cultural activity; and, sport/physical activity.

Elder Care: The Nexus for Family, Work and Health Policy popular

This short paper by Satya Brink seeks to address policy issues surrounding the care of elderly people by family members who are employed outside the home.

A Return to ANC in Spryfield: Fresh Ideas Spring into Action

Like other communities in the Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) project, residents of Spryfield are cognizant of the high level of poverty, large proportion of lone-parent families, and rising school dropout rates in their community.

A Return to ANC in Surrey: Bridgeview in Motion

The Bridgeview Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) project began in July 2005. Bridgeview was chosen because of its longstanding community association and “can do” attitude, but also because of its lack of resources and its physical isolation from the rest of Surrey.

ANC in Toronto: Scarborough Village Grows in a Positive Direction

In her article Anne Makhoul characterizes Scarborough Village as an area of high-rise apartment buildings, large roadways, few amenities, and a community inhabited by a culturally diverse, multilingual population.

Are Canadian Political Parties Empty Vessels? Membership, Engagement and Policy Capacity

This article analyzes the role played by political party members in Canada. William Cross and Lisa Young use the empirical evidence gathered by a survey of party members with the five major political parties, conducted in 2000, and find most to be dissatisfied with the roles they play.

Are Young Canadians Becoming Political Dropouts? A Comparative Perspective

In this edition of Choices Henry Milner expresses concern over decreasing voter turnout rates in Canada, suggesting this reality has much to do with an abstention on the part of young voters. Milner seeks to explain what he considers to be a generational phenomenon (the under-30 abstention), and to provide possible solutions to this problem. In this context, he considers the experiences of other countries that have addressed this problem, or resisted it altogether.

Asset-based, Resident-led Neighbourhood Development

Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) is a federally funded initiative that began in February 2005. ANC explores resident-led approaches to neighbourhood renewal that will successfully enable individuals and families to build sustainable, healthy communities.

COEP: Brazilian organizations

In this international community story, Ann Simpson discusses COEP – the Comitê de Entidades no Combate à Fome e Pela Vida (“Committee of entities Against Hunger and For Life”) – a Brazilian network that mobilizes organizations to combat hunger and poverty.

Corporate Political Contributions in Canada: Practices and Perspectives

The purpose of this report by Averill and Neville is to improve to the overall understanding of current corporate practices on political contributions, and to contribute to the current debate on proposed legislation to reform the system of political contributions. Averill and Neville note that while corporations have been a traditional source of funding for political activity, corporate contributions have increasingly come under public and media scrutiny.

Culture and Recreation: Links to Well-Being

Sherri Torjman explores how culture and recreation contribute to the health and well-being of individuals and communities. This paper is part of a series on Vibrant Communities, a pan-Canadian initiative that seeks local solutions for poverty reduction.

Deliberative Polling in Canada Workshop

This report examines Deliberative Polling, a method for discerning public opinion developed by Dr. James Fishkin. This approach combines traditional public opinion polling with group deliberation.

Electoral System Reform in Canada: Objectives, Advocacy and Implications for Governance

This article by F. Leslie Seidle analyzes the re-emergence of debate surrounding electoral reform in Canada. Part 1 surveys different arguments put forth by academics, researchers, and federal and provincial political parties in the debate, notably several proposed alternative voting systems. Part 2 includes profiles of four Canadian groups lobbying for change, as well “a review of the role certain civil society organizations played in setting the agenda for the adoption of alternative systems for the New Zealand House of Representatives and the assemblies created by devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Engaging Disenfranchised Groups in Urban Health

Sherri Torjman presented this paper at the International Conference on Urban Health held in Boston in October 2004. She addressed the issue of urban health and disenfranchised groups from the perspective of the Vibrant Communities project.

First Past the Post? Progress Report on Electoral Reform Initiatives in Canadian Provinces

In this paper, Henry Milner looks at the progress of electoral reform in Canada. He examines the system of mixed-member proportional representation (MMP), recently implemented by New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales.

Fixing Canada’s Unfixed Election Dates: A Political Season to Reduce the Democratic Deficit

This report was written by Henry Milner following the 2005 provincial election in British Columbia, an election that was held on a date predetermined by law – rather than customary Canadian tradition, with the leader of the governing party determining an election call. In this paper, the author asks whether Canadian democracy would be improved if fixed election dates were introduced at both the provincial and federal levels. For his study, he examined 40 democratic countries around the world, finding that only one-quarter of them have unfixed election dates.

Genomics, Health and Society: Emerging Issues for Public Policy (2)

This paper approached the issue of genomics, its development and the ethical, social and legal challenges that this development has created. Through a symposium it was hoped that policy issues could discussed by researchers, NGOs, government officials and industry representatives. Specifically the symposium tackled the topics of genomics and health, public attitudes towards genomics, methods of advising ministers, and effective ways to engage citizens.

Government and Communities: Strengthening Neighbourhoods Together

This paper discusses the lessons learned during the Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) project. According to Cheryl Gorman, the project was able to broadly share information on substantive policies, the “systems of support” approach to strengthening neighbourhoods, and relationship-building.

Hamstrung and Hogtied: Cascading Constraints on Citizen Governors

In this paper Colleen Flood and Tom Archibald look at what type of role citizen governors may be able to play in improving accountability within the Medicare system. Flood and Archibald systematically examine five levels of decision-makers within Medicare and their roles, then question whether or not citizen governors, or another form of citizen engagement would improve accountability within the system.

Investing in Canada: Fostering an Agenda for Citizen and Community Participation

This paper’s purpose is to stimulate discussion about the importance of citizen and community participation and to advocate investment and leadership. Paddy Bowen argues there are many potential investors: governments; foundations; the corporate sector; non-profit organizations; communities; and individuals.

Learning and Evaluation for Poverty Reduction

In this paper Sherri Torjman and Eric Leviten-Reid explore the role of learning and evaluation in community-based poverty reduction.

Mapping the Links: Citizen Involvement in Policy Processes

This article by Michael Orsini and Susan D. Phillips attempts to develop “a fuller understanding of the multidimensional nature of citizen involvement and to assess the adequacy of contemporary practices of citizen involvement in Canada”, taking into consideration different aspects of civic participation, political institutions and policy processes.

North Central in Regina: Keeping the Focus Where It Belongs

Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) is an initiative aimed at revitalizing five neighbourhoods across the country. ANC enabled residents to talk and envision a kind of community in which they wanted to live.

Orienteering Over New Ground: A Neighbourhood Theory of Change

Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC), a federally funded initiative, was launched in February 2005. ANC explored resident-led approaches to strengthening neighbourhoods that would help individuals and families build sustainable, healthy communities.

Policy Development and Implementation in Complex Files: Lessons from "Vibrant Communities"

Developed by the Canada School of Public Service for its Special Studies series, this case study is intended as training material for federal public servants.

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