The Confessional Style of Public Consultation

From today’s Citizens Alliance newsletter, a sage comment about the current PEI public consultation on sustainable transportation:

Just noting that this is not true public consultation: Once again, while seeking public input and making the process easier by having webpages and e-mail, there is still a continuation of this confessional style of consultation, where what an individual contributes, by whispering through a screen to an unseen somebody on the other side, is not shared by government so that others could see and add to ideas already submitted. Nor have there been any recent public meetings hosted by government for people to gather and discuss what they would like to see in this strategy.

Still, the more they hear Islanders thoughts on transportation, the better.

My friend Gerry Hopkirk, a frequent source of sage wisdom himself, says “the smartest person in the room is the room.” This consultation—and, indeed, most public meetings of any sort—ignore this, and thus lose the power of collaboration to allow better ideas to be built together.

Improv comedy would be pretty dull if comedians’ participation was limited to filling out a web form.