Thursday, April 10, 2014

PMO: Engaging citizens fosters trust

When Stephen Harper told us that Canada will host a summit on saving the lives of vulnerable women and children, I thought, good idea.

What would the obvious next question be that immediately springs to mind: Who will be attending the summit?

In other words, who are the "Canadian stakeholders, experts" and "global leaders from developed and developing countries, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and foundations to take stock of the progress made to date and discuss the way forward" mentioned in the press release?

So I asked the Prime Minister's office this question. And in the interest of transparency--as I assume the summit will be funded by taxpayers--I thought I'd get some kind of substantive answer from the PMO.

What I was told was that:
"The list of participants of the summit will be made available in due course—all of the latest information will be updated immediately to  where you can access it."
Which prompted me to ask two more questions:

1) I'd also like to obtain information on the process that is being used for selecting invitees. How is that being accomplished? And what is the criteria for choosing an organization?

2) Also, what if I'd like to submit a name of an organization to be included in the summit? How can I go about doing that?

After a couple of more emails and phone calls to the PMO, I finally received my response from Carl Vallée. Short and sweet:
"We don't discuss internal process."
Don't we, as Canadian Citizens have a right to know who is being invited to discuss something as important as this summit obviously will be? After all, it is our money that will be funding the summit itself, never mind the actual aid to this initiative: a total of $7.3 billion from G8 and non-G8 countries, which includes Canada.

I think my questions are completely fair and reasonable and deserve an answer. In fact why would the PMO even tell us about this initiative, if they have no intention of answering questions about it, or giving us any additional information?

What about openness and transparency?

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