A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Promises – Openness, Transparency and Service.

Continuing our review of the Liberal Partys promises we turn to:=
Openness and Transparency.
Amending the Access to Information Act so that all government data and information is made open by default in machine-readable, digital formats.
Accelerating and expanding open data initiatives and continually look for additional opportunities to do so.
Creating a central, no-fee portal for personal information requests.

All of the above, except the access to information item, has been underway for some time however it appears that some of the restrictions put upon those trying to initiate this within government by the previous regime have slowed and hampered the efforts and in fact deliberately ignored / abused the existing system . We hope that a less restrictive environment will speed up and expand these efforts.

The promise to “Create a single window for all government services, and work with the provinces and territories on ways to combine online access efforts.” would seem to part of this effort. There is already a “ individualized, secure accounts for Canadians who want to access all of their government benefits” and this can no doubt be expanded and be made more accessible.
It would seem to make sense to eliminate duplication of access to services with the provinces both on and off line and here I am going to suggest it may be the time to consider a proposal contained in a 2008 senate report largely ignored by the previous regime that being:-
RECOMMENDATION 2-3: The committee recommends that the federal government work with provincial, territorial and municipal governments to identify ways in which a range of existing and new services might be delivered through existing rural infrastructure points such as rural post offices.
Many folks, particularly in rural areas do not have access to reliable, affordable, unlimited internet and the provision of some services at your local post office would help keep our postal service alive and make services more accessible for many citizens.

Under the heading of Better Service for Canadians we see this which closely mirrors the above:-
Introduce a significant overhaul of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) operating practices to proactively contact Canadians when they are entitled to, but are not, receiving tax benefits; offering to create returns for clients, particularly lower income Canadians.

This one has bugged the hell out of me and many other citizens, particularly senior citizens, for years. Having to 'apply' for certain benefits year after year by filling out a form which mirrors the information already provided in your tax return (and which is then checked against that information upon receipt) is ridiculous and just wastes government resources. Similarly not informing folks (youth, seniors, physically and mentally challenged individuals etc etc) of support services, both financial and physical, to which they may be entitled may reduce the use of same but is wrong on so many levels. There is no doubt that there is room for improvement on this file.

A couple more promises include:-

Create a common, quarterly, and more detailed parliamentary expense report, make the Board of Internal Economy open by default.
A more open government is always a good thing in my view we just hope that such practices become the norm within Canada. Let us have both MP and Senators individual and office expenditures reported (and publicly available) on a timely basis, That is not annually some months after the year end but quarterly within 30 to 60 days.

Combat international tax evasion; and ending the CRA political harassment of charities, as well as clarifying rules to affirm the important role that charities play in developing and advocating for public policy in Canada.
Genuine charities that do “good work” or otherwise enhance society should continue to be free to publish their points of view without being hassled by the CRA, however there are those that are in fact political in their entire reason for existence who were not audited during Harpers attack on charities. Lets set reasonable rules across the board and ensure that the CRA follows them without bias.

Make Statistics Canada fully independent with a mandate to collect data needed by the private sector, other orders of government etc, etc. Strengthened Statistics Canada to make available more detailed labour market information, child development data,
and statistics on natural capital.
Having already restored the long form census I suspect that this will be instituted in short order. Labour market details are essential for establishing who and where need attention in regards to employment, more detailed LOCAL reports are desperately needed to cover specific areas and needs.

Finally they say they will:-
Create a Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council, of young Canadians and Mobilize the experience and knowledge of Canadians using evolving technologies.....
I am not quite sure how this is going to work, does this mean that they are going to take notice of chatter on 'social media', I sure as hell hope that the 'input' will be more substantive than that, its a good thing to listen to Canadians but how to separate the partisan rhetoric from the substantive suggestions will be almost impossible!

Next week Electoral Reform, advertising and debates.
Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

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