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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.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mr McGuinty, We Should Talk!

I have zero concerns about the notion of a former Premier acting as a lobbyist.  The truth is, most lobbyists are former politicians, or political staff, or political organizers.  Government speaks a unique language and has a closed culture - we need people familiar with that space to serve as bridges between the public, not-for-profit and grassroots sectors and policy makers.
There are easier ways to make a lot of money and be a power-broker, if that was McGuinty's interest. 
It isn't.  If anything, his decision to support Desire2Learn is an indication that he's never wavered from the things he's always believed in.
Remember, this was the self-styled Education Premier; strengthening our education system was a priority he spent a lot of time and political capital on.  McGuinty was also all about the long-game; the whole purpose behind a Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal or a Ministry of Health Promotion was to start heading off some troublesome structural issues before it was too late.
McGuinty was also the kind of guy who loved tech and engagement (despite his social media ban, but nobody's perfect).  One of my favourite memories of the former Premier involves him sitting down at CCVS in Cornwall with my former boss, Jim Brownell, chatting candidly with students about music, iPods and how tech and InfoTech was offering a wealth of opportunities he wanted them to be well-positioned to seize.
That's what he believed when in office; it's what he believes in now.
Funny enough, it's the same thing a number of social innovators, community catalysts and virtuous schemers inside and outside government believe, too.
Andray Domise is developing a Youth Entrepreneurship Centre in Etobicoke intended to provide a safe space for youth to learn practical skills like sales, financial management, supply management, etc. with a focus on helping them turn their passions into careers.  Andray has a particular interest in coding and the emerging opportunities of Open Data.
Chloe-Marie Brown, Policy Advisor to Toronto Youth Council, has some ambitious projects on the go with a focus on improving mentorship opportunities for youth (particularly from Neighbourhood Improvement Areas), improving civic engagement and mapping out youth spaces and services for easier access.
Speaking of mapping - Caitlin Blundell has a really cool GIS project in the works with multiple applications; imagine youth being able to do infrastructure audits of their community by uploading photos and comments to a digital platform using Apps on their phones.
That's the kind of platform for engagement that folks like AJ Tibando (who McGuinty may remember as a former Liberal staffer) of SoJo and Abdullah Mayo of RaiseAnAim are also working on.
All this ties rather organically to the move by all levels of government to Open Data, making public information available for public consumption, possibly as a resource from which to build profitable products and services.  It's what amazing folk like Sameer Vasta at MaRS facilitates every day.  It's what Microsoft CSR Make Web Not War is looking to support in their work - which is why they backed Richard Pietro's Civic Engagement tour, #OGT14.
This is before you get to the individual civil servants, design thinkers and community consultation folk also looking to empower youth to be their own best advocates.
There are so many cool people with great ideas and varied skill sets, all working in the same space - but they aren't Dalton McGuinty. 
I bet they'd love to work with him, though.  I'd be happy to make the connections.
Just think of the positive impact we could have if we're all moving forward together.


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