Open Dialogue Processes in Canada: A Comparison of Stated Goals Across Federal Departments

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Abstract Summary
Since the adoption of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments in 2012, the Government of Canada has set off on a re-invigorated mission to consult and engage with the public on a range of issues that affect Canadians. But how have the stated goals of these public consultation and engagement processes varied across federal departments? Have they aligned with those of the OGP? By considering Canada’s historical aims for consulting with the public, and how varying goals have been set in different sectors of the Canadian Government, this research essay will seek to identify gaps in stated Open Dialogue goals across federal departments and highlight where sharing of best practices could be beneficial. Every Open Dialogue process is an opportunity to achieve several goals. From some of the most practical: increasing public participation, or, collecting public input for policy making, to the slightly less tangible: generating consensus on contentious issues, or, building public trust towards government. By reviewing the literature on the goals of citizen engagement, the research essay will seek to provide context from which to assess the goals identified for consulting and engaging with the public. The identification of goals to be achieved in Open Dialogue processes have important impacts on the design of consultations and how processes are evaluated for their successes and failures. Finally, the choice of goals in Open Dialogue processes also have implications for roles of the public in decision making, as well as how trustworthy the state is perceived to be.
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