Westminster Meets Digital: Transforming Governance Practice Presentation at GTEC

The Institute on Governance held a panel discussion at GTEC on October 20th, 2015. The session included remarks from:

And explored the following theme:

What are the core tensions governments ought to consider when pursuing effective digital era governance? This presentation explores some of these core tensions with a view to help evolve governance practice for the digital age.

Two forces digital and governance are meeting like tectonic plates, shifting our national landscape and giving rise to new peaks and valleys around key governance questions that all citizens need to be concerned about: Who has real power? How should decisions be made? How can all players make their voices heard and ensure that account is rendered?
While Westminster parliamentary democracies like Canada’s are widely credited with a high capacity to adapt to societal evolution, the advent of digital culture is putting this claim to the test. Westminster systems were not designed with the digital era in mind. Governments, including those under the Westminster model, have not kept up with the rapid pace of changes associated with the rise of digital technology, and adherence to industrial age organizational models is increasingly creating tensions wherever those models intersect with the citizens now fully digital whom they were created to serve. As a result, the trust between governments and citizens has eroded. It is in this context that the Institute on Governance believes it is necessary to articulate what happens to our current governance systems when Westminster meets ‘digital.’

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*This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.