Global Leadership in Open Government is Canadian

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November 30, 2017

As you may know, Canada recently accepted a new leadership role with the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as co-chair for a two-year term. Last week, I represented our country in this role by participating in the OGP’s Americas Regional Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This meeting was an opportunity for OGP members, civil society organizations, academics and citizens to come together and learn from each other, and strengthen bilateral and regional partnerships.

Some of the big questions I focused on were:  

  • How can government encourage citizen participation through open government?
  • How can we demonstrate the real-world results of our open government efforts?
  • And, now that we’re lead government co-chair of the OGP for 2018-19, as well as supporting government co-chair for 2017-18, what does our new international leadership role look like?

Canada’s new leadership role

During this meeting, I shared stories Canadians are familiar with: how we’re opening the doors for Canadians to see our once-secret Ministerial mandate letters, and report on how far we’ve come in keeping the promises we made. I also discussed how we’ve proposed important legislative changes to our Access to Information Act to make it easier to get government information.

While accomplishments like these led to our new leadership role, the meeting also reminded me that this is about much more than Canada’s successes. It’s about stepping up to support other countries on their own open government journeys, and investing in the success of modern democracies around the world.

Our priorities

I also shared the key themes Canada will bring to the co-chair role, and I’ve talked about these in an earlier blog. These priorities reflect the challenges facing the global open government community, and are shaped by the experiences of former OGP co-chairs.

They are:

  • Inclusion, which means enabling under-represented citizens, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, to participate actively in policy-making. Anything less is unhealthy for democracy.
  • Participation, which is about developing public policy in partnership with citizens, or creating opportunities for people to get involved, which leads to more trust in government and better policy outcomes.
  • Impact, which is about making it easier for citizens to understand how our work in open government affects their day-to-day lives. This makes government accountable for results and puts the focus on initiatives that make a difference.

Going digital grows open government

As we think about the effects of our work on Canadians, it’s hard not to recognize the close link between open government and digital technology. Producing results on the ground really means digging into our understanding of how well our current digital services respond to citizens’ needs, and how we can do better.

To move open government forward, we need thoughtfully designed digital services that puts citizens first and brings Canadians closer to their Government.

Global responsibilities

Of course, the leadership expectations for Canada have never been higher — and that’s how it should be. Because the ultimate goal of the Partnership is to use Open Government to create and better lives for people the world-over, which is something Canada can get behind.

We’re looking forward to the next two years.

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The progress that we are making together is nothing short of impressive. I think that societal participation will increase dramatically, now that we can actually reach out and discuss issues of interest directly with government representatives. Thank you for this great accomplishment, and Merry Christmas to All.