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CPRN Reports Highlight Contributions of Citizens to Fiscal Balance Policy

Despite recent funding cuts, the Canadian Policy Research Networks (www.cprn.org) continues to produce important research on the impact that citizen engagement can have on public policy processes. In the presentation “Complexity, Politics, Policy and People,” former CPRN Civic Engagement Director Mary Pat MacKinnon offers insights on how a process of deliberative dialogue was used by the Canadian Advisory Panel on Fiscal Imbalance as part of its consultative process on how to better share funds between governments. I saw Mary Pat present this very interesting work at the C2D2 Conference in November. Her presentation describes the dialogue process and the resulting roadmap citizens provided to decision-makers in working through how to address this politicized issue of sharing funds. It shows how engagement can be effective in identifying citizen solutions on an issue that most policy makers consider to be beyond citizen understanding or interest. To access or download her presentation, go to www.cprn.org/doc.cfm?doc=1797&l=en.

Other recent CPRN reports include “Strengthening the Federation: Citizens’ Dialogue on Sharing Public Funds for a Better Canada,” by Judy Watling, Judith Nolté and Mary Pat MacKinnon. This report gives a citizens’ perspective on how governments should share public funds and is surprisingly free of jurisdictional jealousies. Citizens argue that a vision of what we are trying to achieve as a country, not governments’ fiscal capacity, must be the starting point. The report is based on a series of intensive regional and national citizens’ dialogues conducted in 2005 on behalf of the Advisory Panel on Fiscal Imbalance, established by the Council of the Federation led by Canada’s Premiers. To read the report, go to www.cprn.org/doc.cfm?doc=1422&l=en.

Also of interest is “Taking Fiscal Federalism to the People” by Judith Maxwell, Mary Pat MacKinnon and Judy Watling, which was published in Policy Options, March 2007. It offers commentary on the values and principles identified in the dialogues that express our citizenship and how we define ourselves. The article points to shortcomings in intergovernmental practices and recommends ways to transform executive federalism to better meet the needs and expectations of citizens. To read or download the article, go to www.cprn.org/doc.cfm?doc=1642&l=en.

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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