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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

The Peaceable Revolution for Open Government: The Youth Shall Lead

I did a presentation today on Open Government and Open Data to Grade 10 students at Humber Collegiate.

As part of the presentation, I talked briefly about Magna Carta and Responsible Government - the historical process that has led us to having a government that's accountable to Parliament.  I walked with them through the difference between Constitutional responsibilities and political conventions.

We also talked about the increase of rabid partisanship and the role increasingly visual, accessible and real-time media have played in this trend.  

This led into the harsh reality of modern politics - that those within the system who recognize there's a problem and those that are fine with the increasingly partisan competitiveness of our system are equally trapped.  It's not about them, after all, nor what they leave behind - it's about our society and the world our children (like the youth in these classes) will inherit.

I closed by drawing a comparison between Magna Carta and Open Government, suggesting that society has grown so complex that, in addition to responsible government (answerable to Parliament) we need a responsible democracy (answerable to the people).

Referencing a plaque in Nova Scotia that commemorates the first responsible government in the British Empire, I told them that this is our "peaceable revolution."

These classes had been present at Open Data Day TO, one of hundreds of Open Data/Open Government events that happened globally.  They understood that what's happening out there is a movement - and they want to be part of it.

I asked them what message they would like to convey to government, Parliament, the bureaucracy and the media.  I promised them I wasn't just asking because it was the traditional thing to do, but because I wanted to connect their voices with whatever ears I could.

They gave me three powerful messages to pass on.  Here they are:

   1) Youth are people too - and they have a voice

   2) Don't underestimate them

   3) They will be holding the collective us accountable

I expect to be hearing more from young, engaged, powerful voices like these, from a growing number of sources.  So should you.

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