CitizensAssemblyMonument.ca is a volunteer project of Jason Diceman, an independent stakeholder engagement consultant and deliberative democracy researcher in Toronto. He is neither associated to the Vote For MMP campaign nor the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly Secretariat.
Here is the story so far…
After spending six months in Venezuela learning Spanish and researching their new participatory democracy system, I came back home to Ontario in August 2007 with a newly invigorated enthusiasm for citizen driven politics. I looked into the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform and learned how amazing of an example it was of real people getting informed, deliberating and making a smart decision for government. 103 random and representative citizens from every riding in Ontario spent about 35 hours a month for 8 months researching, discussing and coming to a popular decision.
When I started to ask my friends, family and neighbours what they thought about the Citizens Assembly, I just got blank stares. In just a few weeks their will be a provincial referendum to approve the Mixed-Member Proportional election system (MMP) recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly, and no one knows who they were and how they worked. If we give our resounding support for the Citizens’ Assembly decision and thus the process they used, it could trigger a dramatic turning point in Ontario political history, but it is not likely without more popular awareness.
The problem kept me awake at night. What could I do as one person with no budget, no political influence, no access to the big media and only a month to organize? Then it came to me:
I could tour across the province asking everyday people to participate in the creation of a monument to the Citizens’ Assembly, with the aim of getting coverage by local and popular media to the amazing work that was accomplished in the Citizens’ Assembly, to the MMP recommendation they decided on and to the potential for more deliberative democracy in general.
But then it became obvious that I would need a dedicated team and substantial budget to pull such an event off without looking like a loony. When an offer for such resources fell through, I had to sadly shelf that plan.
Since then I have been focusing on building a list of political science professors who support the Assembly process. I am now drafting a press release about the issue and the supporting in hopes of getting some media coverage. It is not quite a monument, but a step in the right direction and could affect the results of the referendum, even if just a little.
If you would like to get involved, please get in contact.
– Jason Diceman
Learn more about me and what I do at www.JasonDiceman.ca