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Home Policy Articles: Citizen Engagement: Page 2

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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Policy Dialogue

In this paper Sherri Torjman focuses on the use of policy dialogue as a means of alleviating concerns relating to current policy issues and administrative processes. This is achieved through engaging five neighbourhoods across the country.

Quality of Life in Canada: A Citizen’s Report Card

This report, authored by Sandra Zagon, attempts to identify the standards Canadians associate with quality of life to then evaluate how Canada measures up to this standard. Following numerous dialogue sessions with Canadians “from all walks of life” Zagon identified 40 indicators of quality of life, which she has grouped under 9 main themes. These include health, democratic rights and participation, education and the environment. It is difficult, Zagon argues, to generally state whether Canada has made progress in the last ten years in regards to quality of life; certain indicators show progress, some are stagnant, and others have deteriorated. Still, the study identifies several data gaps which need to be addressed prior to any declaration on progress or regression of quality of life.

Rebuilding Trust in Canadian Organizations

This Detailed Findings paper by Zachariah Ezekiel attempts to explain the reasons for declining public trust in corporations and public organizations. In the introduction to the paper Ezekiel describes the debate concerning the issue of trust. Although studies have found there is an overall decline in public trust, the extent and importance of this decline is often an issue of contention.

REFLECT: The Power of Communication

Building vibrant communities should entail inclusion and participation of marginalized individuals and groups.

Reflections on Vibrant Communities

In this paper, Eric Leviten-Reid discusses the progress made to date in Vibrant Communities, a pan-Canadian initiative that seeks local solutions to reduce poverty.

Rethinking Political Parties: Discussion Paper

In an age of democratic renewal, Graham Fox argues that one of the key actors overlooked has been the political party.

Seeking Sustainable Livelihoods: Constructing a Role for Community Economic Development in Technology-Cluster Growth

In this article Edward Jackson and Rahil Khan propose the use of community economic development as a means of stabilizing employment in areas where technology clusters are prevalent.

Social Cohesion: Updating the State of the Research

This article by Caroline Beauvais and Jane Jensen analyses the state of research on social cohesion, a subject oft-covered by the Canadian Policy Research Network. The first section of this article updates the “definitional range of the concept”, underpinned by debates about what generates well-being. Section 2 observes that there is no common academic position regarding whether social cohesion is a dependent or independent variable; that is, whether social cohesion generates certain aspects of political and economic life, for example, or whether those aspects generate social cohesion. The most studies can agree to is that there seems to be some sort of correlation. Beauvais and Jensen then outline the groups of factors different studies identify as supporting or limiting social cohesion (social diversity is one), and studies which measure the effects of social cohesion. Generally, Beauvais and Jensen conclude that social cohesion, being a quasi-concept, the debates it generates are more about “political values and goals” rather than scientific proof.

The Canadian Community Monitoring Network

In this community story Anne Makhoul describes how Environment Canada and the Canadian Nature Federation partnered to facilitate the development of a Canadian Community Monitoring Network.

The Death of Deference: National Policy making in the Aftermath of the Meech Lake and Charlottown Accords.

This brief paper by Ian Peach discusses how public policy and the process of its development has changed since the Meech Lake and Charlottown accords.

The Forum on the Implementation of the Accord Between the Voluntary Sector and the Government of Canada

The purpose of the Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI) is to strengthen the relationship between the Canadian government and Canada’s voluntary sector, while also providing a tool to bolster volunteerism in Canada. To meet this objective, the federal government retained the Public Policy Forum to organize discussions on the VSI in hopes of reaching agreement on key issues.

The Group of Six

Sherri Torjman discusses the activities of a 'Group of Six' who are developing initiatives to reduce poverty through community level actions.

The Intersection of Governance and Citizenship in Canada: Not Quite the Third Way

Susan Phillips analyzes the now widely-accepted notion that the philosophy of governing in Canada “has shifted from one of new public management (NPM) to one of shared governance” (one which includes strong participation from the voluntary sector), and the model of citizenship that is supposed to accompany this philosophy.

The Reform of Democratic Institutions: The Views of Parliamentary Candidates

Jerome Black and Bruce Hicks examine the views of elites regarding electoral reform, achieved through a broad questionnaire offered to the candidates from the five major parties (including the Green Party) competing in the 2004 Canadian general election, held on June 28, 2004.

The Seat Shortage: Changing Demographics and Representation in the House of Commons

In this e-brief, Ben Tomlin notes that the growth of the Canadian population, particularly in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta is not being met by the Census Canada calculations for the allocation of seats in the House of Commons.

The Shifting Place of Political Parties in Canadian Public Life

R. Kenneth Carty questions the role, shape, and nature of political parties in Canada, considering the past, present, and future.

The Uneasy Case for Uniting the Right

This article by Tom Flanagan contends that there is no basis in political science for the argument that one must “unite the right” in order to have a strong, functioning democracy in Canada. Rather, he suggests that as long as the basic tenets of the Canadian Constitution (including rule of law, respect for property rights and markets, free discussion of public affairs) as well as a widely distributed electoral franchise are kept in place, several models of opposition other than the “two-party alternative government configuration” can function adequately. Accordingly, he suggests there is no “categorical imperative” to unite the right.

Thunder Bay’s Simpson-Ogden Neighbourhood: Gifts in Unexpected Places

In this article Anne Makhoul outlines the progress in Thunder Bay’s Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) project in the Simpson-Ogden neighbourhood between February 2005 and March 2006.

Ties that Bind? Social Cohesion and Diversity in Canada

This article by Stuart N. Soroka, Richard Johnston, and Keith Banting asks whether Canadians must worry about social cohesion, particularly in light of immigration and the difficulties faced by new immigrants.

Towards open skies for airlines in Canada

According to Pierre J. Jeanniot, the Canadian government is considering greater liberalization in the country’s airline industry in line with the current international trend toward open markets in aviation.

Using Creativity to Enliven Urban and Rural Villages

In this community story Anne Makhoul describes how two communities are combining arts initiatives with community economic development projects.

Vibrant Communities Calgary: Awareness Engagement and Policy Change

Even though Calgary has experienced growth and prosperity due to the booming oil and gas industry, the gap between its richest and poorest communities is growing contend Anne Makhoul and Eric Leviten-Reid.

Vibrant Communities Edmonton: Building Economic Success

Vibrant Communities Edmonton (VCE) was created in 2002. Its efforts are modeled after the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Re-Building Communities Initiative. This American not-for-profit organization focuses on the difficulties low-income families face in trying to improve their economic fortunes.

Vibrant Communities Edmonton’s Make Tax Time Pay Campaign

Vibrant Communities is a pan-Canadian project that seeks local solutions to reduce poverty and build more caring communities. Vibrant Communities Edmonton (VCE) was seen as a useful vehicle for informing Edmonton residents about the Alberta Child Health Benefit (ACHB).

What Are Policy-Makers Saying about Respite?

This paper discusses the findings of a set of interviews revolving around the issue respite for caregivers. Sherri Torjman explains the concerns that have been raised and makes recommendations for how respite for caregivers might be improved.

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