Civil society organizations were excluded from last month's Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America in Montebello, Quebec. This partisan tactic sends a clear message that, for these leaders, politics is a competitive sport where winning is all about gaining control of public processes to advance one's own interests.
It is an interesting indicator of the changing state of our political culture that even the most secretive and centralizing of governments now feel obliged to insist they consult closely with the public on key issues. At the same time, stakeholders regularly complain about the lack of consultation. They say decision-making is too closed, top-down and unresponsive.
The obstacles to real service transformation have turned out to be numerous and hugely difficult to overcome. While some progress has been made, the hard truth is that this kind of integration has proved far more difficult than anyone realized a decade ago.
Information technologies that make government services more seamless have proved a catalyst for a huge and ongoing debate that covers the entire spectrum of government activity, from operations to policy to governance. Much of it revolves around what we call "the machinery problem."
A decade ago, Bruce Phillips, the Privacy Commissioner of the day, was asked how we should protect privacy from the spread of new technologies through governments. He replied that they should always have to seek citizens' consent for how they use their personal information. If governments and businesses are bound by the same principle, they have tended to apply it differently, partly in response to cues from the public. Comparing the two yields a couple of timely lessons.
The news may be a little dated and You've likely moved on to other stories. But sometimes a bit of distance brings new clarity to complex issues. So now that a few weeks have passed since Time Magazine declared You "Person of the Year," let's ask: Where do You go from here?