Consultation Plan Discussion - Action Plan 2.0 Discussions


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About the Consultation

The Government of Canada champions the principles of openness and transparency. By increasing the availability of government information and engaging the public, we can build a stronger country – one that is more innovative, more informed, more participatory, and full of economic opportunity.

In 2012, Canada joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to improve the quality of the programs and services that citizens receive. As we near the end of our first two years as a member of the Open Government Partnership, it is time to engage with Canadians on the development of Canada's Action Plan on Open Government Consultation (CAPOG) 2.0.

Our goal is a rich and productive dialogue on how to ensure Action Plan 2.0 builds on the successes and lessons of the last two years.

We are asking for your input on how to best meet these consultation goals and increase participation.

Please have a look at the Consultation Plan and share your thoughts on these key questions:

  1. How can we make the consultation plan better?
  2. Will you participate in Open Government consultations? Why or why not?
  3. Can you name any public interest groups or organizations that would be interested in participating? If so, please share with us.

How do I stay connected?

  • Email – subscribe to the mailing list by sending your name, email address, and interest area.
  • Twitter – follow @TBS_Canada we will be using #opengovcan for general news and #OGAP2 for news specific to the Open Government Action Plan 2.0.

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Rules of Engagement

We look forward to hearing from you. Your ideas and feedback are central to the development of both the Open Government portal and the Government of Canada’s approach to Open Government.

While comments are moderated, the portal will not censor any comments except in a few specific cases, listed below. Accounts acting contrary to these rules may be temporarily or permanently disabled.

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Our team will read comments and participate in discussions when appropriate. Your comments and contributions must be relevant and respectful.

Our team will not engage in partisan or political issues or respond to questions that violate these Terms and Conditions.

Our team reserves the right to remove comments and contributions, and to block users based on the following criteria:

The comments or contributions:

  • include personal, protected or classified information of the Government of Canada or infringes upon intellectual property or proprietary rights
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Our team cannot commit to replying to every message or comment, but we look forward to continuing the conversation whenever possible. Please note that responses will be provided in the same language that was used in the original comment.

Our team will reply to comments in the official language in which they are posted. If we determine the response is a question of general public interest, we will respond in both official languages.


Submitted by Centre for Law… on September 19, 2014 - 6:11 PM

Consultation and stakeholder participation are meant to be hallmarks of the OGP process. Indeed, given that one of the chief aims of the OGP is to “empower citizens”, it is fundamentally important that action plans be developed through robust consultative processes. Addendum C of the OGP’s Articles of Governance sets out in some detail the minimum conditions for consultation: Consultation during development of action plan • Availability of timeline: Countries are to make the details of their public consultation process and timeline available (online at a minimum) prior to the consultation; • Adequate notice: Countries are to consult the population with sufficient forewarning; • Awareness-raising: Countries are to undertake OGP awareness-raising activities to enhance public participation in the consultation; • Multiple channels: Countries are to consult through a variety of mechanisms—including online and through in-person meetings—to ensure the accessibility of opportunities for citizens to engage; • Breadth of consultation: Countries are to consult widely with the national community, including civil society and the private sector, and to seek out a diverse range of views; and • Documentation and feedback: Countries are to make available online a summary of the public consultation and all individual written comment submissions. Canada’s first consultation signally failed to live up to these standards. This was noted by the IRM report, among others, which levelled two main criticisms against the consultations process. First, the IRM noted that participation was quite low, which it attributed to the fact that the process took place exclusively online and benefitted from very limited outreach or awareness raising. Second, the IRM criticised the quality and breadth of the consultation, which was based on pre-defined questions, thereby limiting the ability of participants to propose ideas outside of those which the government had already decided to prioritise. Similarly, the government never presented a draft Action Plan for commentary, depriving citizens of the chance to respond to concrete government proposals. Steps have been taken to respond to these criticisms, and Canada’s current round of consultations has been significantly improved over the first round. In order to provide broader scope for public input, the Action Plan 2.0 consultations are taking place over a longer time period and are divided into three parts. According to the government, the first phase, which solicited input as to how the consultation itself should be run, was scheduled to take place from 24 April to 15 May. The second “ideas” phase, which was to solicit ideas for inclusion in the Action Plan, was scheduled to take place from 15 May to 30 June. The third “activities” phase, which sought to further refine the ideas which have been selected for the Action Plan, was scheduled to run until mid-September. As with the first round of consultations, this round involves opportunities to participate online. The majority of this discussion is routed through Canada’s Open Government Portal, which hosts a forum for visitors to post ideas or comments, as well as to express support (similar to a Facebook “like”) for previously posted remarks. Participation was also facilitated through the Treasury Board’s twitter account. The current round of consultations also includes a series of face-to-face public discussions, which are taking place in different cities across the country from 27 June until an as yet undetermined date in October. These have been supplemented by participation of the OGP consultation team in the programmes of three conferences in April, May and October. Although the process is much improved from the first round, significant problems remain. An initial problem has been the lack of clear communications about the process, in particular regarding dates. Although there are good graphics illustrating the flow of the process, there is no clear indication of the dates of the different phases (although a press release with the initial schedule was sent out at the beginning of the process). Furthermore, these seem to have changed rather fluidly. For example, a 15 May statement indicated clearly that the ideas phase would only be open until June, but Treasury Board officials, who are overseeing the consultations, indicated to us at a face-to-face meeting on 11 September 2014, that this had been extended to the end of August. And a blog post summarising the Idea Dialogue suggests that it took place from April until July. As of the date of this Submission (19 September 2014), we have still not been able to find a definitive official notice for the correct dates. The changing schedule, and the lack of an accurate and publicly posted timeline, violate the OGP’s principles of “adequate notice” and “availability of timeline”. While allocating more time for dialogue may always seem to be a good thing, this kind of fuzziness, the absence of clear information about the nature and reason for the changes tends to degrade and confuse the process. This is somewhat intangible, but it is difficult for external stakeholders to engage properly in the absence of a clear and stable framework. At a very minimum, once any changes had been made, notice of this should have been posted prominently on the website which, as far as we can tell, does not contain any accurate schedule for the consultations. Another concern is that the problem of government seeking to control the process seems to have persisted. We are not aware of the extent to which discussion at the in-person events was in general directed towards pre-determined themes, and to what extent participants were able to suggest their own ideas and activities. However, the 11 September session, which CLD representatives attended, was highly controlled. The agenda of the Edmonton consultation, which took place on 27 August, suggests that that session followed roughly the same format. One of the main criticisms of the first OGP consultation was that the dialogue lacked meaning since it channelled participants into expressing opinions on pre-selected activities. The online ideas dialogue did allow participants a higher degree of freedom, but the in-person events should have allowed for an equally open exchange. We understand the need to refine the conversation as the process moves forward, but the degree of control manifested went well beyond this. Another problem is that, overall, the level of participation in Canada’s OGP consultations remains troublingly low. This is particularly true for civil society. According to government figures, as of 24 July, 163 people had participated in the process in-person. However, only 17% of participants hailed from the “community/non-profit” sector. By far the highest participation came from government employees, who constituted 42% of attendees. This is obviously problematic, given that the OGP consultation is meant to be heavily targeted towards participation by civil society and the public at large. This is reflected in the core philosophy of the OGP of facilitating dialogue between government and civil society. Participation in the online consultation has also been disappointing and seems likely to end up being lower even than for the first Action Plan. According to the Treasury Board, the online consultation for the first Action Plan attracted responses from 260 individuals. Although it is difficult to independently assess the number of participants accurately, since users can post ideas anonymously or under generic pseudonyms, well under one hundred people had participated in the online consultations as of 25 August. There may be many reasons for low participation in the online consultations, including generally limited engagement among civil society on this issue, attendance at the in-person events in lieu of contributing online and scepticism among at least some parts of civil society as to the genuineness of the consultations. However, there are clear signs that the outreach efforts by government were not as robust as they could have been. For example, some of the contributions to the online discussion urged the government to do more to reach out as part of the process. When CLD invited those on its mailing lists to participate in the 11 September event, individuals across the county, including many who are relatively engaged on these issues, responded by noting that they had no idea that a consultation was ongoing and expressing interest in participating in the event remotely (we suggested they submit a comment via the website). Many of the Halifax-based stakeholders who CLD invited were also unaware that a consultation was being held. Little effort seems to have been made by the government to use its contacts to reach out to a wider range of groups and individuals. All of this suggests that the Canadian government’s efforts, while better than in the first round, still have a long way to go. We also note a serious problem of trust between the government and some civil society sectors, which may inhibit participation. A number of NGOs which have been critical of the government, in particular those benefitting from charity status, have been subjected to tax audits, which has created a wider chilling effect among such NGOs. There is likely also carry-over scepticism of the OGP process due to the way the first round of consultations were handled. In such a context, it is even more incumbent on government to make an effort to engage civil society. In this regard, it is worth noting an incident which took place at an Open Government event organised by CLD in Halifax immediately following the government’s OGP 11 September consultation, which was attended by three Treasury Board representatives. The event was meant to be an opportunity for meaningful dialogue between the government and a smaller group of expert stakeholders. Among the participants were two journalists, who were invited by CLD because they are known to be prolific users of the access to information system. As soon as the government representatives learned that there were journalists present, they announced that they would be unable to speak in the session, or respond to any of the points raised or questions asked since, according to Canadian government policy, a media representative would need to be present for them to make any comments “on the record”. The fact that Canada’s open government representatives were unable to discuss the country’s open government strategy without being overseen by a press relations officer speaks volumes about the problems in the government’s approach to openness and why there is scepticism about the government’s commitment to openness. Open government is not about public relations, or presenting a groomed and crafted image to the public of what the government is doing. On the contrary, it is about honest, open relations and information exchanges between government and the people. This is an excerpt from CLD's full submission to the open government consultation. To read the submission in full, go to:

Submitted by Samantha on September 19, 2014 - 3:48 PM

I want Canada to show leadership in making mining, oil and gas more accountable! #upvote

Submitted by Tom Weatherburn on August 07, 2014 - 6:16 PM

Until the government admits what a foolish mistake it was to compromise the long-form census, the most useful and important open data this country has ever produced, it has ZERO credibility on Open Government. Tony Clement is the last person that should be involved with this initiative.

Submitted by Kristina on July 28, 2014 - 9:56 PM

If your interest is, as you state, "As part of the development of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2.0, we are specifically interested in the potential for an Open Science Initiative and are exploring a federal approach to publishing scientific research, including the data behind that research", please can you tell me why you find yourselves incapable of a) explaining what your "open science initiative" is. I work in government and there is no mention of that phrase in GCpedia's open government pages. b) explaining that any open scientific publication based initiative is really a result of a major action in the US to demand that any science publication funded by the government purse should be made public (supported by all civil servants I talk to), for free immediately (or soon!) and should be accompanied by the raw data that provides the evidence for the decisions promulgated in the publication. This data requirement makes sense because it ensures that others can reproduce the result and adequately critique it. Is your question, whether Canadians agree with this perspective on government science publishing? If that is your question, do you also need to explain to Canadians that this approach has risks in the present industry that supports scientific publication - they are presently struggling to identify how the funding model for academic publishing internationally can be redesigned. That - how Government and Industry work TOGETHER to design a system that recognizes their costs and our demands to ensure that public research is made public - is at the crux of this debate. But government is not doing that. Instead government is talking about duplicating materials published by large academic publishers on government web sites. The publishers have a business model to charge, the government has a business mandate not to. What a mess. There is an absence of clear and courageous creative thinking in this file. We in government need to do better, and we have the capacity to do so. To Tony Clement, i would ask him to 1) clarify the cool but still meaningless terms being bandied about (open government, open access, open publication, open science...) 2) write up a one page document identifying what you want to acieve by pursing each of these open initiatives 3) allocate a budget and give a manadate to meet the objective, to clear-headed, nuanced , capable civil servants to allow them to focus on finding solutions in cooperation with the industry, academics and the scientific population at large 4) consider doing things better by having the courage to step away from wrapping up a problem in reports people don't read, guidelines they cannot understand, directives they cannot follow. Instead have faith in experts in your employ who can resolve the problem given far-sighted leadership that demands evidence, rationality, consultation and give and take in providing solutions that can and should be better.

Submitted by a walsh on July 16, 2014 - 7:46 PM

Since when has the government been champions of the principles of openness and transparency? Mr. Harper has not shown any of these principles since he has been in government.

Submitted by KatieF on July 15, 2014 - 5:26 PM

Take a look at what the science says about the tar sands are affecting the natural environment, and redirect money to developing alternative and renewable energies- they exist and we could use them! Listen to what all of the BC First Nations people, as well as everyone else in the province, are saying about having the Enbridge pipeline on the BC coast- we don't want it. It is short sighted and it will ruin our coast. There will be spills because the waters are treacherous and there just isn't room for those tankers in between our little islands. The people in Ottawa making the decisions could actually come and take a look at our home and see what is at stake. Let democracy stand: Reopen our government libraries- let the people who have always been standing up for open data do their jobs!

Submitted by Jerry Hockin on June 02, 2014 - 5:05 PM

"As part of the development of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2.0, we are specifically interested in the potential for an Open Science Initiative and are exploring a federal approach to publishing scientific research, including the data behind that research." This claim does not "hold water", in light of how world class research was shut down and the library at the Lakes research was thrown into dumpsters. Please stop your war on science and honour your promises, commitments and responsibilities. Please stop ignoring facts when they don't agree with your political agenda or personal beliefs.

Submitted by Jerry Hockin on June 02, 2014 - 4:24 PM

Stop changing Canada into your own vision of what it should be (ex.: a "clone of. Republican USA), and start honoring the wishes of all Canadians, even the ones on your "enemies list(s)." Imposing your own ideas will only lead to conflict. Your political party needs to learn compromise, and stop imposing your own personal agendas (ex.: anti-union, anti-labour, pro-neo-liberal/pro-neo-conservative economics, etc.). Only by recognizing that lasting solutions only come from the greatest good, for the greatest number, not from the greatest good for you and your friends, can we find solutions that satisfy the majority and will last. Past policy creates resentment that will ensure instability, that could result in civil war or revolution - and I'm sure no one wants that, do they?

Submitted by Jerry HOCKIN on June 02, 2014 - 4:14 PM

End government policy of not answering media questions, without previous review of questions, and without pre-approved scripts. Allow media open access so they can properly inform the public. End top-down micro management of public issues, policy debate and answer all questions in an open and transparent manner. Open up all trade talks and allow and encourage public debate, and votes on all agreements, such as the TPP.

Submitted by Jerry Hockin on June 02, 2014 - 4:09 PM

Allow Federal civil servants and sciencetists working for government the right to openly comment, like all other citizens, and to publish their concerns and research. Better publicize on- line "consultations so that everyone is aware of them, not just corporations, but workers, unions and the general public as well; and give all parties equal "weight" in developing policy and regulation, not just your own neo-conservative agenda. Always act in accordance with the precautionary principal , instead of profit motives.

Submitted by Mike H on May 30, 2014 - 9:08 PM

Re: open science, I'd recommend that you speak with representatives from the University and Research Press sectors. My limited understanding of research funding is that the federal government funds research, which is then submitted to journals, published and then sold back to universities and other public institutions through expensive subscription costs. In the end, taxpayers and students at Canadian universities essentially pays for research twice. The model is really based on the old system when publications had to be physically printed in small runs, but now much of the publishing is done at little cost electronically. This could be an interesting area to explore, to see if there is a way to give Canadians greater access to the research they fund through their tax dollars.

Submitted by Éva-Lorraine on May 15, 2014 - 3:30 PM

I applaud the initiatives. Keep it going and please enlarge it's mandate. Open gouvernment seems to be a natural progression of democracy. Openness and transparency means that the fruits of our collective labour will empower future generations to progress and evolve at an optimal rate. Openness (either non-gmo or gmo openness) is the essential ingredient for creating residual returns on investment that all of humanity enjoys. Examples; scientific research (renewable energy technology, sustainable development technology, agricultural research, health and wellness research), information systems (source code), other technology (source code, documentation, transparency). Je salue les initiatives de donné Continue le bon travail. Un gouvernement ouvert semble être une progression naturelle de la démocratie. L'ouverture et de la transparence signifie que les fruits de notre travail d'aujourd'hui et demain permettront aux générations futures de progresser et d'évoluer à un rythme optimal. L'ouverture est un ingrédient clé pour maximiser le retour sur investissement résiduel que tous le monde en profite. Quelques exemples; la recherche scientifique (tech relié au développement durable, la recherche agricole, de la santé et de la recherche de bien-être), des systèmes d'information (code source), d'autres technologies (code source, documentation, transparence).

Submitted by James Klaassen on May 11, 2014 - 8:56 AM

There appears to be no consultation on Manitoba or Saskatchewan; the closest you get is in Edmonton. Is there an explanation for this? I find that getting information from the Government of Canada is very limited. The search criteria makes it very difficult to locate data on any specific location. I am not sure how the searches are formatted, but they definitely are not easy to work with.

Submitted by open-ouvert on May 13, 2014 - 6:57 PM

Hello, We are looking for opportunities across Canada. If you are aware of an event where we could run a workshop or roundtable in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, please let us know. Thank you.

Submitted by Dave U. on May 10, 2014 - 10:38 PM

Does "open government" mean that all of the research paid for by the people of Canada will be freely available to the people of Canada?

Submitted by open-ouvert on May 14, 2014 - 2:05 PM

Hello, As part of the development of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2.0, we are specifically interested in the potential for an Open Science Initiative and are exploring a federal approach to publishing scientific research, including the data behind that research. We appreciate your interest and feedback. Don’t hesitate to share any additional thoughts you may have on what should be incorporated in this type of initiative. Thank you.

Submitted by Peter Karwacki on May 07, 2014 - 1:17 PM

Consultation, Dialogue, Participation. Three words, three very different ideas. The way many decisions have been made in the recent past have alienated members of the public. They feel they have not been heard. Environmentalists have been called "terrorists" by their own senior government officials. Soldiers returning "shell shocked" by conflict are treated with disrespect. First Nations such as those in Attawapiskat have been shamed rather than helped. They face appauling conditions for housing, education, employment, substance abuse, health levels - we all see it, know it, feel it, and the responsiveness of government to these issues remains insubstantial. Treaties are not respected, land claims are unsettled. The Justice Department does not really pursue justice at all, just victory at any cost, they is how they are evaluated. The party system of government fails us, and our senior pubic leaders in the Senate are broadly seen to be excessivly entitled for little gain to the average citizen. Actually, this rant could go on but enough already.

Submitted by André C on May 02, 2014 - 9:46 PM

Il serait utile que les consultations puissent aider à : identifier plus précisément les besoins/types d'usages et d'usagers potentiels des données des ministères et le niveau de flexibilité (ex.: données brutes aux fins de recherche vs applications fournissant des données transformées pour usage précis). Il serait tout aussi utile d'engager les fonctionnaires fédéraux en les incluant dans les consultations, notamment parce que l'Initiative de gouvernement ouvert exige vent tout un changement de culture / de façon de travailler. Les processus et façons de faire à l'interne de prévoient pas et n'incitent pas à penser aux citoyens / entreprises / autres paliers gouvernementaux comme utilisateur de leur information. En fait, l'information n'est pas perçu comme étant "publique", dans le même esprit que les "fonds publics". Les réflexes actuels sont souvent de protéger/limiter/filtrer l'information au public. J'ai moi-même tenté encore récemment de trouver par plusieurs façons de l'information sur les détails de certains types projets réalisés par les agences de développement économique, mais sans succès. Encore aujourd'hui, plusieurs ministères n'ont pas de plan et n'ont même pas commencé à penser à la mise en oeuvre de l'initiative de gouvernement ouvert. Cette initiative est une révolution en soit au niveau des ministères et elle n'est actuellement aucunement orchestrée comme telle.

Submitted by open-ouvert on May 07, 2014 - 6:34 PM

Merci pour vos commentaires, ils nous permettront certainement de faire progresser la réflexion quant à notre manière de structurer l’information. Pour ce qui est de consulter la fonction publique, des consultations auprès des fonctionnaires fédéraux ont déjà été tenues la semaine dernière auprès de plus d’une trentaine de fonctionnaires œuvrant dans la gestion des données. Nous espérons par ailleurs consulter d’autres groupes de fonctionnaires dans les prochaines semaines. Il est également à noter que toute la fonction publique peut participer à la consultation en émettant des commentaires le Gouvernement ouvert ou les données ouvertes. Les commentaires provenant de ce groupe nous permettront certainement de proposer de nouvelles idées pour la suite de notre consultation. Merci encore et n’hésitez pas à nous écrire de nouveau.

Submitted by Douglas Wilcox on April 28, 2014 - 4:34 PM

With todays technology capabilities gone are the days when government program information arrives, serves its function in program administration, and is then left idle in a database. Government program information should be leveraged on an ongoing basis. That means extracting the maximum information value from data at all points in a data record’s life — not just soon after the record is entered. But even years later as that record becomes a component of the integrated data, and its value increases as data insights can be obtained from the aggregated and historically integrated individual data records – to see trends, patterns and anomalies. However, there may be constraints to maximizing value from government program information. Public-sector employees operate in environments with low levels of resources and administrative capacity constraints, which can minimize or eliminate the time and resources they can devote to actively extract additional public good from their operational data. However, as this article illustrates there can be considerable benefit in having public dataset managers devoting time and resources to creating additional data value, and decision makers within government need to encourage this. Otherwise the public will end up with government bodies operating with “too much data and not enough insight.” Open Government activities that will make the Government more transparent and accessible to Canadians is not only desirable from an accountability standpoint but also will provide businesses and policy makers with accurate and quality data that can make Canadian businesses and governments more competitive and sustainable.

Submitted by Scott on April 25, 2014 - 3:49 PM

1. Put cameras and microphones in all the highest public offices in the land including the PMO and make it criminal act to lobby or be lobbied in-camera. 2. I'll participate when the discussions and communications that policy-makers hold can be monitored in a manner that facilitates auditing at any step in the process to validate that public policies actually serve what the public wants and needs rather than what a special interest wants. The Government of Canada champions the principles of openness and transparency? I'll believe it when it can be verified through a rigorous monitoring, auditing and validating regime. Let me be perfectly clear...we need to penetrate government secrecy to a far greater extent than the government invades individual privacy.

Submitted by Andrew Bell on July 29, 2014 - 1:27 AM

Hello Scott, I am an avid political philosopher and believe the government should have no authority but what the collective of society gives it. I just want to get that out of the way. I believe your suggestion to put cameras and microphones everywhere cannot be achieved. Much lobbying is done outside the office and even if you spent the millions of dollars to install this hardware, there would still be ways to bypass this. The soviet's used to make bribes under microphone and camera using signals and code-words, and they had a monstrous inter-government intelligence agency. Think Supply and Demand. The supply of a product is usually brought about by the demand, but government has exceptions to those rules. With government mandates on the supply of contracts to industries and other nations, demand is actually created by the prospect. With less government mandates overall, or at least lower payed contracts, we would see less demand for lobbying and under the table no bid contracts. If the government had far less involvement in perticular industries and much more to do with simply enforcing laws and keeping the peace, we would see drastically less government contracts and far less corporate involvement in our government. At the current situation, it is not so much easy to influence government, but it is so worth it since the government has its hands all over the industries and allocation of funds. I really think we would both agree on the nature of some of the problems we face with lobbying and under the table deals, but I feel as though you are arguing for a futile cause. Enforcing morality and accountability is very hard to do and I firmly believe it has much more to do with the character of those jobs and the people it attracts. The same problem with people taking flex days every Monday and getting off at noon. The attitude of government must change back to our cultural roots; Government workers must be made to remember that they work for us, and they are serving their country, just as us soldiers do. I feel as that is more to do with society and how we view government than any technological solution we could think of.

Submitted by open-ouvert on April 28, 2014 - 5:53 PM

Hi Marc, Quite a start to our consultation! One of the team members went through the New Brunswick report - thank you for sharing it, and the online communities approach. We’re hoping that throughout the upcoming online consultations on Action Plan 2.0, communities of interest will form around discussion threads on ideas submitted by Canadians. That said, the online communities model may be one to consider as Open Government in Canada evolves. If you have any additional information to share about that model, or why you pointed to it in particular, please feel free to elaborate. Thank you, The team