The Canadian Open Government Civil Society Network
Every two years, Canada and over 70 other countries create action plans as members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Canada’s first two plans each contained twelve commitments aimed at improving access to information, civic participation and public accountability.
Canada is required by the OGP to engage in public consultation in preparing and implementing its plan. There were issues with the scope and nature of this consultation in the first two action plans. So, in 2016, we established a Canadian Open Government Civil Society Network to coordinate civil society input and make sure our voices were heard.
Our vision for the network was to establish a permanent dialogue mechanism through which the government would first co-develop commitments for its action plan with civil society representatives, and later co-implement those commitments and then co-assess its performance.
During the consultation on the third action plan, dozens of civil society organizations signed our letter of intent. We were pleased to see that the final plan included our proposal. Our next step was to negotiate the details of this ongoing dialogue mechanism with the government.
The dialogue mechanism was established in January 2018 as a Multi-stakeholder Forum, consisting of eight civil society representatives, selected through an open application process, as well as four representatives of Canadian government departments involved in open government activities. It will be a powerful tool for members of civil society to push for commitments that are specific to their areas of activity — whether it’s health, education, homelessness, environment, or any other area.
This campaign was led by the interim steering committee of the Canadian Open Government Civil Society Network, which is now inactive:
- Gail Davidson, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada
- David Fewer, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
- Jean-Noé Landry, Open North
- Michael Lenczner, Powered by Data
- James McKinney
- Toby Mendel, Centre for Law and Democracy
- Sukanya Pillay, Canadian Civil Liberties Association