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IOG Supports Open Government Grand Bazaar

Author: Maria Habanikova

The IOG’s banner was proudly displayed at the Open Government Grand Bazaar at Ottawa City Hall on the evening of Tuesday, September 16th. The event marked the conclusion of Richard Pietro’s Open Government Tour across Canada.

Represented at the Bazaar were many public sector, private and non-profit organizations whose work revolves – in one way or another – around local and federal governance, information sharing, the role of government, and citizen engagement. Alongside the Institute on Governance, booths from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Open Data Ottawa, Neighbourhood Study, Open Concept, Canadian Travellers, Head Start Ottawa, GTEC, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Co-Create Canada and several others welcomed citizens. The event was open to the general public and attendees had an opportunity to attend panel discussions on open government, open data, and civic engagement, observe the speakers’ corner on a variety of related topics, or simply wander around and network with likeminded individuals from various initiatives and organizations.

IOG President, Maryantonett Flumian, was among the panelists invited to speak about open government and civic engagement. After musical introductions by the Cara Q band, Ms. Flumian engaged with Richard Pietro by first asking an insightful question, something she had inquired as a public servant 25 years ago: “Why don’t we start putting citizens at the centre of everything we do?” A seemingly innocent question, it challenges the way government operates and also brings to the forefront a concept Ms. Flumian refers to as ‘disintermediation,’ whereby people do not understand the complexities of their government or what it does and seek out guidance from others. In her view, to eliminate the need for disintermediaries, governments need to engage with citizens to gain different perspectives. When they open up processes, data and attitudes, they can gain valuable insights from those they govern and become citizen administrators. “Citizen engagement is the oxygen of government; governance is a way of describing a human ecosystem we are all operating in; and government is the enterprise platform for doing good,” concluded Ms. Flumian. In her presentation, she also defined technology as the vehicle that makes the collaboration between governments and their citizens possible and that has the capacity to bring the two closer together to foster participation and transparency.
Nicholas Charney, a Senior Researcher at the IOG, built on these statements during his remarks at the speakers’ corner where he spoke about the IOG’s work on digital governance and issues around our evolving democracy. The IOG has partnered with the University of Victoria, OCAD University, On Second Thought Advisory and Dalhousie University on a multi-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded project exploring the challenges facing governing institutions and societies in the coming decades where no one owns information, power is dispersed and authority and accountability need to be reconceived.

If you missed the event, you can view the full webcast from the event here.

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