Yesterday (June 11, 2011), I sent a suggestion of an open government to Charles Sirois, co-founder of the Coalition for the Future of Quebec (Coalition pour l'avenir du Québec), on CAQ's Web site. (See my post.)
I quoted Yogi Berra, "When you see a fork on the road, pick it up."
I do not know exactly how much the CAQ picks up the forks. I have not yet had the opportunity to discuss in person with these people and see them in action on open government issues. How far this coalition is in a position to grasp open government issues, and transform them into concrete proposals? In the event that the CAQ becomes a political party and participates in upcoming provincial elections in Quebec, will open government be included in the program?
If the CAQ makes open government the Canadian-style, no thank you! Citizens are not stupid and know well enough that the open government declarations by Stockwell Day (see my post), Tony Clement (see my post) or the Governor General of Canada in a Throne speech (see my post), actually mean very little. Democracy Watch gave a score of 61% to Canada for implementation of legislation and programs. Gaps and loopholes, and enforcement weakness, undermine the system. This justified the low score of 61. (See my post.)
Today I received this response from the CAQ, via Twitter: "Thanks for your suggestion Ms. Robichaud. We take the proposal for an open government very seriously."
The Coalition for the future of Quebec is the first coalition (not yet a political party) in Quebec to openly shout a shy 'yes', on open government issues.
I've been talking for five months with the team of the Deputy House leader, Henri-François Gautrin. Five months repeating the same things. And five months hearing the same answers. A communication has been established (I recognize that I am privileged). There is information sharing. Interlocutors understand the issues. But does that mean that open data and open government issues are taken seriously?
Hope, I have it in abondance. There are still about 5-6 months before Henri-François Gautrin files the final report, on the potential of Web 2.0, asked by Premier Jean Charest.
While I remain optimistic that the analysis mandate lead to recommendations for implementing an open data / open government initiative, it brings us to 2012 for some action to take place in this area.
The open government guru, Beth Noveck, said last March, in a testimony to ETHI Canada, "Be Nimble – Where possible, invite innovations that can be implemented in 90 days or less. Forcing organizations to act more quickly discourages bureaucracy and encourages creative brainstorming and innovation. The need for speed encourages a willingness to reach out to others, including across the public sector." (See my post.)
The analysis mandate on the potential of Web 2.0 began in October 2010 and will end around December 2011 or possibly even later. A period of approximately 15 months, while Beth Noveck suggests delays of 90 days or less. Throughout the tenure of the current analysis, we could schedule up to 5 periods of 90 days. This would give ample time to design and implement a pilot open data / open government project.
What might happen to us is precisely that nothing might happens to us!
The analysis on the potential of Web 2.0 could be completed by end 2011, early 2012, without any recommendation in favor of an open government. The government could build on status quo, and solely focus on communications.
At election time, the PLQ (Liberals) may be replaced by another party.
To what extent can we expect that the next government of Quebec implements an open data / open government initiative?
These issues should now be at the heart of concerns in policy and political debates. MPs should question Henri-François Gautrin at the National Assembly on progress of his analytical work, when the parliamentary session opens in September, and should not let go of a hair until he publishes his report. And in the meantime, there should also be questions to the Prime Minister on his vision, about why open government is excluded from the analysis mandate on the potential of Web 2.0, and what he envisaged to the government in this area. Opposition should always claim an open data platform whenever there are issues with little transparent requiring that we see more clearly. There should be open government claims whenever a problem arises. Open government should be suggested, problems should be transformed into a challenge on an open government platform, and citizens should be invited to co-create and co-produce ideas, to find solutions best suited to situations.
This should constantly be on everyone's lips.
There should be political leaders committing themselves very seriously to open government, and these leaders should work diligently every day to transform the present institutions into an open government. It is a daunting task, which, as explained by John F. Moore, "is not about technology, technology is simply the enabler". I think it is not that complicated, and it is primarily a question of transformational leadership, which is sorely lacking in Quebec. I wish that we identified and trained open government leaders in Quebec.
Uncle Sam Calling
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