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Open Dialogue Forum: Reflections and Recommendations for Open Government in Canada

Joe Powell|

An except from my Open Dialogue Forum speech in Ottawa with four open government recommendations for Canada: 

  1. We need political leaders making the case for open government internationally. It’s easy to be pessimistic about the direction of many countries. Sadly in many places civil society and citizens are experiencing closing space. Laws passed to restrict their funding, freedom of the press curtailed and activists locked up in jail. We cannot afford to be complacent and we need Canada playing a leadership role on the international stage. I think this happened to a good extent on open data – but it could go further.
  2. That been said, every country has somewhere where it can improve. We recently published our second independent report on the state of open government progress in Canada. I’m glad to say two of the report’s recommendations – including open government in the budget and reforming the access to information regime – were tackled by Minister Brison yesterday. But progress could still be made on deepening – and where appropriate formalising – the dialogue with citizens and civil society organisations. And I congratulate the founders of the Canadian Open Government Civil Society Network and encourage people to join in that effort.
  3. There is now an opportunity to participate in the consultation launched by Minister Brison yesterday – which will feed into the third open government plan of Canada. I know there are big ideas around open contracting including proactively disclosing all contacts over 10k and using that data for evidence based policy making; around prioritizing the release of data and information that truly benefits civil society- and many others.
  4. We need to take the open government message to the subnational level. It’s been an incredible learning experience for me to hear of all the different approaches to open government happening across Canada. So much is already happening. OGP was set up to deal with executive branches – but we realise that for open gov to really impact citizens we need to take it to all levels of government. This year we launched a pilot programme for subnational governments – and had over 40 applications. I would like to congratulate Ontario and Premier Wynne and Deputy Premier Matthews for being one of those applicants- and I hope we will soon have good news when the list of the 15 selected applicants is published.

​For the full speech, see our YouTube video.



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