Online Citizen Consultation and Engagement in Canada

Online Citizen Consultation and Engagement in Canada

G. Longford (University of Toronto, Canada) and C. Hurrell (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch191
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Abstract

Like other western liberal democracies, Canada has witnessed the erosion of political participation and civic engagement on the part of its citizens. Recent studies of Canadian democracy have revealed numerous symptoms of malaise, including declines in voter turnout, participation in traditional political institutions, civic literacy, and trust in government (Gidengil, Blais, Nevitte, & Nadeau, 2004; Nevitte, 1996). Governments at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels have launched numerous democratic reform initiatives in response. Along with proposals for electoral and parliamentary system reform, governments in Canada have responded with new citizen consultation initiatives designed to increase public participation in the policymaking process. Incorporating the use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) into these initiatives, such as online citizen consultation tools, has become a common method used to engage Canadians in the policymaking process. A gradual shift in the language and practice of citizen involvement in the policymaking process has also been taking place, one in which citizen consultation is being complemented by richer and more sustained forms of citizen engagement. This chapter examines the political context and conceptual underpinnings of online citizen consultation and engagement in federal policymaking in Canada, reviews a number of recent examples, and assesses their outcomes in light of their potential to overcome the democratic malaise currently ailing Canada’s political system.

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