Thursday, July 16, 2009

Watch it here!

In the "media is dead, long live the media" discussions I'm always fascinated by the proliferation of new sites that appeal to the policy nerd in all of us (or maybe just me). We've been doing some research into the US and Canadian examples, and although none have yet cracked the sustainable business model challenge, it's encouraging to see so many efforts to bring news and opinion forward.

The latest to cross my radar in Canada is, a video forum for ideas on public issues and challenges. It's a bit like a video version of The Mark. They were kind (or foolish) enough to include me in their first taping, which you can watch here.e-another-new-online-public.aspx

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shining a light on public service, Volume Two

It's rare these days to see someone, particularly when it's not their job, make the effort to engage thousands of Canadians on important issues of the day. That's what's so impressive about Shauna Sylvester and her Canada's World initiative. Over the past three years, Shauna has met with Canadians far and wide to gather their views on Canada's international policy.

We've written a short piece on the Samara blog about this process, including a short video of Shauna describing the whos and whats of it all. She's meeting with a number of policy makers and others from the foreign policy scene to share the results, and I'm sure she'll regularly update us on how the work is progressing through the CW site.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Shining a light on public service, Volume One

Last year while working on the concept that became Samara, I had the opportunity to speak with several hundred Canadians who were interested in the country and the strength of our public life. One commonly-cited observation was how little we do to shine light on positive examples of public policy development, public leadership and service in Canada. Many asked Samara to consider doing this as part of its work.

While there are awards of many types (e.g., the federal government's Public Service Awards of Excellence or Showcase Ontario's initiative to do the same in that province, and the Public Policy Forum recognizes public leaders at its annual dinner), it is true that stories of these types aren't typically in the news and rarely resonate beyond the award presentation.

While this is lamentable, it is also understandable. Public service is often anonymous, done quietly and without fanfare. Government employees almost always avoid the limelight - in fact, this is the expectation of them. However, a little good news never hurt anyone, so we're regularly writing up short stories of exemplary public service and will post them on the Samara blog.

Our first one features Vickie Cammack, the co-founder of PLAN. This organization, which provides information and resources to families of people with disabilities, developed a Registered Disability Savings Plan. The RDSP is similar to an RRSP or a pension through which caregivers can contribute to the future of a disabled friend or relative. Through the 2008 federal budget it became available to all Canadians. You can read more here, or by visiting PLAN's website.