I came across an interesting new initiative launched by Jennifer Bell over at Visible Government the other day. The campaign website is www.ibelieveinopen.ca and was started to encourage federal government transparency. It challenges both candidates and voters to take a pledge for the upcoming federal election.
Candidates are asked to commit to five key improvements in government transparency, they are as follows:
- Support reforms that increase government transparency and accountability.
- Make campaign promises specific and measurable, and report progress on promises and their metrics at least semi-annually.
- Publish the content of his or her daily schedule, including meetings with lobbyists and special interest groups.
- Support reforms allowing free access to scientific and survey data gathered by government institutions.
- Support reforms that make it easier for Canadians to obtain government information they have a right to know.
The campaign also calls on voters (measured separately) to register their support for the goal of increased transparency in their federal government.
When asked why she started this initiative, Jennifer Bell from Visible Government said:
“Few Canadians believe campaign promises, and even fewer know what their governments do on a day to day basis. Our goal is to open up government and let citizens see what their taxes are paying for”. Per capita, Canadians are the most web-savvy people in the world, yet our federal government isn’t using web 2.0 technologies to open up government to Canadians; It’s time to change this”.
I couldn’t agree with her more. As of September 25th, 2008,Â 51 candidates have signed up and 130 voters. WhatÂ I find particularly interesting, although not surprising, is that the candidates that signed up are either from the Green Party or the NDP.
How many Liberals so far? One. How many conservatives? Zero.
You’d think they’d have someone tracking the blogosphere for these kinds of things. Perhaps they do, but are focusing on responding only to big political blogs, which usually just beat their own drums or regurgitate campaign promises. Real democratic initiatives start small and are grassroots and organic in nature, like this one. They should not be ignored. For starters I challenge, David McGuinty (liberal) and Elie Salibi (conservative) from my Ottawa South riding to take the pledge. Let’s see if they are really listening…