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Question 7: "Do you have suggestions on how the Government of Canada could improve how it consults with Canadians?"
For the well informed citizen, consultation may appear to be largely a matter of responding individually to consultations of interest, and tracking the outcomes of reports and discussions. For the average and peripherally informed citizen, I believe Canada could conduct its consultations in a mix of online facilities and outreach by public dialogue and town
For almost any issue, consultation could be improved by hosting informal dialogues with 30-60 citizens in a neutrally-facilitated comfortable setting such as a library or university. Adopting more modern dialogue techniques, such as informal "cafes" or open space engagements, and using visual facilitators to capture key themes and verbatim statements in the dialogue for all to share and discuss.
A more sophisticated approach should be used for complex and contentious issues, ranging from education and health investment decisions to foreign policy. Structured dialogue methods should be used both in civic dialogue and in associated online dialogue. However, for complex issues online dialogue should never be used as a substitute for real people discussing the issues together, since online resources of any type are inadequate to enable people to understand the complexity of situations they will personally only partially understand (And Web 2.0 is still crude and elementary for its ability to manage forums and dialogue).- Dr. Peter Jones