Open North is a Canadian non-profit working to make democracy easier and more accessible to citizens. They specialize in developing free, open source tools for citizens. Though most of what municipal, provincial and federal governments do is available to look at, this information is often loaded with legal jargon and stuck in hard to read formats. Finding out relevant information can require intense digging through non-user friendly channels. Open North works to make information easy to access, manageable and meaningful to those who seek it.
Represent is an online tool that allows anyone to look up the contact information of their elected official at every level of government based only on an address. It is the most comprehensive database of elected officials in the country, including all members of Parliament, Members of Provincial Parliament and municipally elected officials for 47 per cent of the population. It shows federal, provincial and municipal boundaries for 63 per cent of the population.
For activists, this tool allows you to find out who to lobby for a specific issue in your ward or riding. It connects people directly with the contact information of their elected officials, making it easier than ever to get in touch with the powers that be. For cross-country campaigns, Represent is also a way to let activists know who to specifically get in contact with in their area about a national issue. Developers can also use the same open source code in Represent to better the site and alter it for their own projects.
Citizen's Budget is a consultation tool that allows users to enter in a city’s budget and customize it within a simulation. This is an amazing tool for activists, who can show realistic, balanced budgets that allow for more spending on homeless shelters or greater investments in social programs. This tool has been successfully used to solicit new ideas from citizens everywhere from Montreal to Langley, B.C. The graphical design and user friendly structure of the tool makes it easy for folks to get engaged with how public money is spent.
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