Canadian Federal Party Poll – April 3, 2010

Survey results from the MyPolitics Canada iPhone application from Purple Forge for April 3, 2010:

If a Federal election was held today, which party would you vote for:

  • Conservatives
  • Liberal
  • NDP
  • Green
  • Bloc
  • Other


Social “Things” and E-democracy

Social networks and services offer interesting possibilities for the future of e-democracy.

E-democracy is a combination of the words “electronic” and democracy.”  E-democracy represents the use of information and communication technologies and strategies by democratic actors within political and governance processes of local communities, nations and on the international stage. Democratic actors/sectors include governments, elected officials, the media, political organizations, and citizen/voters.

To many, e-democracy suggests greater and more active citizen participation enabled by the Internet, mobile communications, and other technologies in today’s representative democracy as well as through more participatory or direct forms of citizen involvement in addressing public challenges.

E-democracy is a relatively new concept, which has surfaced out of the popularity of the internet and the need to reinvigorate interest in the democratic process. Access is the key to creating interest in the democratic process. Citizens are more willing to use Web sites to support their candidates and their campaign drives. In the United States just over half of the population vote, and in the United Kingdom only 69% of English citizens do so.

The goal of e-democracy is to reverse the cynicism citizens have about their government institutions.   A key element of moving towards e-democracy is increasing the ability of citizens to engage their representatives to share their suggestions and opinions in a dynamic manner.

E-democracy is the first step in moving towards participatory democracy.

Participatory democracy, is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems.   Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Because so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology may provide important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge.

Both e-democracy and participatory democracy will evolve in steps.   Each day we see government organizations providing more and more information and services online.   We also see politicians’ increasingly reaching out to their constituents with new and emerging tools such as Twitter and Facebook to share information and solicit opinions.

New technologies will be a major factor in helping us collectively move towards e-democracy and participatory democracy — for example the widespread use and increasing adoption of online tools such as  social bookmarking, social networks, social media are increasingly popula — and point to future possibilities for e-democracy.

I believe the evolution,  adoption and proliferation of these new e-democracy and participatory democracy technologies will be driven by a new breed of politicians.

Political candidates looking to unseat incumbents will increasingly look towards e-democracy and participatory democracy as a means to reach out and engage disenfranchised voters and constituents.   Using new technologies will allow these candidates to talk directly to what is important, to hear both the “silent majority”, as well as the “vocal minority”.   Incumbent politicians, stuck in the old ways of engaging constituents and votes may well find themselves swept away by more progressive and innovative candidates.    The beginning of meaningful e-democracy and participatory democracy will start at the polls in the coming elections.


Ontario Commercialization Network to be Reformed?

The Ontario Commercialization Network Steering Committee Report was delivered to the Minister late February.  PWC produced a report on OCN prior to the Steering Committee Report but it was not made public.


The report makes some blunt assessments of serious problems with  Ontario’s current approach to economic development and commercialization.  Some key findings include:

  • Lack of co-ordination and sharing across many fragmented organizations
  • Lack of overall governance
  • Lack of clear entry-point for clients/entrepreneurs
  • Lack of metrics and performance targets
  • Need for better co-ordination between Provincial and Federal governments
  • Economic conditions demand quick action

Key recommendations include specifics related to:

  • Fixing the governance model
  • Fixing the delivery model
  • Reducing overlaps of products and services within the Province and between the Province and Federal programs

The report was one of the best i’ve seen so far – it cuts directly to the issues and provides some very rational recommendations.

ex-High Techies in the Federal Government

After this blog entry I was immediately asked about the challenges those ex-techies who joined the Federal government have found.   Here is a quick summary of what I’ve been told:

  • Being under-employed/under-challenged (compared to their personal perceived capability)
  • Being discouraged from working excessive hours (one individual told me about a situation where a co-worker took them aside and asked them to stop working long hours because it was making the rest of them look bad  – however all other individuals I know said they had never experienced this type of behavior and in fact noted that people in their departments tended to work more then the regular work hours as a matter of course)
  • Really, really bad employees who are passed from department to department like a hot potato (these employees typically know how to exploit the various government union and HR policies to effectively do nothing and avoid being fired and consume vast amounts of their managers time and reputation in the process)
  • Political wars and games where each department was working to position themselves for projects they expect to see funded

In Nortel, I personally experienced:

  • Being under-employed/under-challenged (only when working on a  product transitioning to legacy support  – when this happened I usually changed jobs)
  • Being given really, really bad employees as part of a new project team (who I first mentored/worked with to help them develop missing skills or cultural awareness, and if that failed (only on one occasion) I put them into the HR process leading to termination/transfer to a job with a better fit)
  • Political wars and games where each department was working to position themselves for projects they expect to see funded

Anyone else from High Tech who ended up in the Federal government have observations to contribute?

Canadian Federal Government Employee Stereotypes

The stereotypical government employee is usually characterized as “lazy”, “inefficient”, “in by 9 out by 4”.

With the tech downturn, a lot of people I know ended up in the government.  The general consensus among the ex-tech people who ended up in the government is that yes,  there are pockets of poor performers and demoralized individuals – but by and large – the majority of government employees are motivated and engaged in doing the best job they can.  The other observation of the ex-tech people inside the government is that the internal politics are very similar (although more pronounced in some departments more then others!) to the politics that they encountered inside Nortel.

On a personal level, my observations and experiences with Federal government employees include:

  • I have made submissions and worked with the NRC-IRAP team over the years.   I have found the NRC-IRAP team in general to be top-notch from the executives down to the ITA’s – they recognize the importance of their role in the future of Canada tech development and they work as an engaged and committed partner.
  • Stats Canada produces high quality research reports that I have found to be very insightful and valuable in supporting my various market analysis activities over the years.
  • The Passport office is a model of efficiency and customer orientation.  When I look back to the first passport I got compared to the last one a few years ago – they have made massive improvements.  In general I have found they are increasingly efficient and customer service oriented.    The last time I went in to get my renewed passport – in-spite of a full waiting room of people – I was in and out in less then 30 minutes.   I personally like the way they introduced an option for a taxpayer to pay extra for expedited services.
  • On the e-Government side, e.g. making it easy to find information and access services online, the government continues to make improvements year over year.   I have always been able to find the information I need online.   As an aside – I believe our government’s expertise in e-Government is a area we should be looking to export/develop into commercial businesses.

Politicians aside, in general it is my opinion that we have a pretty good group of people working for us in the Federal government.