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By Brad Graham, IOG Vice President, Toronto
The Institute on Governance (IOG) and Ipsos are teaming up to examine critical challenges facing Canada and a new government.
There is little doubt the societal and political landscape is changing in Canada and in western democracies in general. The election of President Trump and the Brexit upheaval in Great Britain are but two examples of developing social divisions. There has been a measurable decline in social cohesion and an erosion of support for government and its institutions, conventions and practices. While the effect is a bit more muted in Canada, we face similar challenges.
In Canada, the Ipsos Disruption Barometer indicates that Canadian society is currently in a state of mild to moderate social, economic and political instability. Ipsos also found that 60% of Canadians have no, or not very much confidence, in government. Political parties fared worse at 74%.
As a result, our traditional understanding of public sector governance and how Canadians and their institutions relate to one another is being turned on its head. We face a policy environment that is incredibly complex. Yet trends such as fake news and the rise of tribalism are strengthening the geographical, generational, urban vs rural, advantaged vs disadvantaged and political divisions among us. This puts our ability to find shared and workable solutions at risk.
The series will not review political party platforms – that’s for the media and others. Rather,we will put big issues squarely on the table to spur debate leading up to the federal election and offer objective and practical solutions for key decision-makers. We will examine major issues ranging from public sector governance, health care, immigration, youth engagement, the environment, housing, and fiscal policy all against a backdrop of declining social cohesion. We will explore positive strategies of how to strengthen social cohesion, democratic participation and the perceived value of government.
Starting in August and running through the federal election campaign to October, the IOG and Ipsos will produce a series of research-based thought pieces related to public sector governance in Canada, merging Ipsos survey-based opinion data with the expertise and insights into governance provided by the IOG.
For each topic, we will address governance issues such as:
· How can government remain relevant, effective and accountable, and preserve its legitimacy in this complex and divisive policy environment?
· What is the impact of Canadians’ differing priorities and expectations on various policy issues?
· What practical solutions can be put forward for a new federal government?
The IOG and Ipsos also working with experts from Dalhousie University, Queen’s University and the University of Regina. The series will be released every 2 weeks leading up to the election.
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