How Transparency
Promotes Municipalities

Transparency in politics has become a hot-button topic, especially over the last five years.

Government mistrust is at a peak and people are demanding answers and access to information. Voters calling for transparency was witnessed in this past Federal election of a minority government.

Federal and provincial politics are having an influence on how municipalities operate. Most municipalities are the principle point of contact for the average citizen, which forces them to adapt faster than what’s been happening at the provincial or national level.

Transparency is an important issue in Canada, finding itself at the forefront of recent and past elections, both locally and internationally. The Government of Canada is committed to being an open government, which they believe can be achieved through three streams:
  • Open data
  • Open information
  • Open dialogue
The goals being to empower citizens, fight corruption, and strengthen technology, which helps overall governance. Providing citizens with these three streams will allow government to create trust and accountability.

Openness = Trust

Once data is openly available, citizens will be informed and educated. With the rise and access of new technologies, governments can combat these problems and secure public confidence. It’s the governments responsibility to enable technology to combat these concerns.
Integrity is inherently connected with trust. When citizens feel that their government officials are working hard to earn their trust, it builds confidence in the public’s view of the government. For local governments to be proactive in transparency speaks volumes to their constituents.
– iCompass, 2019
Skepticism in government isn’t new, but there are some main areas that governments can focus on to show their citizens that they’re trustworthy. People may not agree with every decision or mandate, but if there’s openness, citizens are more likely to have a neutral view as opposed to strong or negative.

We’ve seen populist type movements all over the world and we, as a country, are not exempt. There will always be differing opinions, however, if governments follow these six standards, they can show their citizens that they’re governing in an accountable way.
  1. Reliability – To minimize uncertainty in the economic, social, and political environment.
  2. Responsiveness – Ensure and maintain quality of effective public services.
  3. Openness – Create citizen engagement and access to information.
  4. Better Regulation – Create fairness and justice by having standard regulations throughout.
  5. Integrity & Fairness – Open, clean, and fair government.
  6. Inclusive Policy Making – Understanding how and why policies are formed.
At the local level, many municipalities are adhering to these three streams far better than their national counterparts. They are posting their bylaws, procedures, meeting minutes and agendas online, so their constituents are informed and up to date.

In fact, some municipalities are going as far as taping council meetings so there’s full disclosure and little room for mistrust.

Global politics have allowed municipalities to take the lead to restore faith in government and create trust. Access and trust go hand in hand; the more information and data that is easily accessible, the higher the chance the public will think favourably.

People have a tendency of mistrusting something they can’t see, forcing governments and agencies to take initiative to drive change.

Restoring confidence in government creates a stronger nation, both socially and economically.
Do you agree? Disagree?