Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Event Blogging The conservative movement at a crossroads: Governing in a Multi-Stakeholder World

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Don Lenihan Ph.D.
- Vice President, Engagement - Public Policy Forum

Governing in a Multi-stakeholder world, are conservatives ready, willing, and able?

We need to ask ourselves the question, what is it like to actually govern?

When the Conservatives came to power they brought several key issues with them.

Childcare money reform
Healthcare wait-time

Healthcare wait-times disappeared from the agenda because they didn't really have the power to do much about that.

Not all that long ago the world was much simpler and the government could do more. They could command the bureaucracy. It is different now.

Several quotes and statistics about how massive our world of information has grown. We get more information in a week of the New York Times than someone in the 1800s would have gotten in a lifetime.

What does all this mean?

Three things:

One: Things change very, very quickly. By the time you offer a promise it can be already too late to deliver on it.

Two: Interdependence - things are interdependent and connected in many ways today that they weren't historically.

Three: Complexity - the world is now very complex and that makes it harder to control the pieces. There aren't just simple moving parts that you can grab hold of.

If you ever end up on that floor in Parliament and the Privy Council came to talk to you they would say that the status quo has changed.

It is now so easy to get knocked off your chair because there are so many people messing around with all your stuff, things have changed.

Before, you dealt with problems by pulling in the reigns and managing better, or trying to.

However, when you do this you shoehorn highly complex issues back into the government silo to create a strategy. At the end you might have a wonderful document but everyone will still be going in their own direction and no one listens to you.

By doing this you perpetuate the idea that the government can just deliver solutions. There is a culture of dependency today because people just think the government should deal with every issue.

We need to tell stakeholders that we cannot do this without them. Government cannot do everything.

We need to realize that just trying to pull in the reigns is a defeatist strategy. The only other strategy is collaboration.

We need to recognize that the world is too complex for government to handle on their own. They need help from others to achieve programs.

Good policy used to be good ideas, but now everyone has their own ideas. So it is now one part good ideas one part process. We need to bring people together and pool their ideas.

What does this mean for conservatism? We need to learn how to work together more effectively.

Solutions must be ongoing and so must participation.

Government must realize it has a new role to play. It regulates, gives money, and provides programs. It must be a facilitator. They must send the message that it don't have all the answers.

They are the leaders, the conveners, but there must be helpers.

This is not just a chance to tell government what to do. If you want to play you have to pay. You have to become involved and put in your fair share of effort.

We must rediscover the role of community and responsibility in society.

My view is that the future belongs to the government who redefines how we govern.

(Bloggers Note: I had to leave this event a little early so I missed the final Q and A session. Very sorry about that.)

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