Open-ish government -- new book explores the federal government in the digital age

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Screenshot of Government of Canada website. Image: Open Knowledge Foundation/Flickr

With the election less than a month away, all of us who are politically engaged are reflecting on how well our government has worked over the past few years. And governments of all kinds are operating very differently than they did even 10 years ago, thanks to digital innovation and theories of information management which arise from new technologies.

The digital age has had a profound effect on the way our country and our government operates. You can explore these themes in Amanda Clarke's new book Opening the Government of Canada -- The Federal Bureaucracy in the Digital Age.

For example -- she has a section in her book where she considers the legacy of former prime minister Stephen Harper as "Canada’s first digital era prime minister." Considering the secrecy and information control rampant in the Harper era, it wouldn't surprise most of us that the transition towards open government has had its bumps along the way. And it still does, despite the very different style of the Trudeau government.

While it's easy to criticize the federal government for being pretty slow about about figuring out new models to navigate the digital age, Clarke says there needs to be a balance. She makes the case for a more open model of governance, but says that the model also needs to be balanced with the democratic principles embedded at the heart of our parliamentary system of governance. It's a tricky thing.

rabble podcast producer Victoria Fenner talked to Amanda Clarke about how those dynamics are playing out on Parliament Hill.

Amanda Clarke joined the faculty of Carleton University's School of Public Policy and Administration in July 2014. Her research examines public sector reform, policymaking and civic engagement, focusing in particular on the impact of digital technologies on these domains. Prior to joining Carleton, Clarke completed a doctorate at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, as a Pierre Elliott Trudeau scholar, a Clarendon Press scholar and a fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is co-editor of Issues in Canadian Governance and author of Opening the Government of Canada: The Federal Bureaucracy in the Digital Age. In 2017, Clarke was appointed Carleton University's Public Affairs Research Excellence Chair and in 2019, the Canada School of Public Service named her a Digital Government Research Fellow. She is the founder of the Canadian Digital Governance Research Network.

Image: Open Knowledge Foundation/Flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.