Citizens, Accountability, & Government

Throughout The Canadian Environment in Political Context I try to focus on what citizens can do to improve the environment. Specifically, what role do citizens have in the political sphere that can influence environmental policy? There are many examples – from the obvious, like voting, to the more time consuming, shopping green. There are virtually hundreds of ways an individual can involve him/herself in the dirty work of politics – even without ever running for office.

I have recently come across the website TrudeauMetre.ca. This is a website intended to hold the Trudeau government responsible for promises made during the 2015 election. It is run by four men in Alberta who are self described data-junkies. But anyone can participate in the tracking of promises made or broken. The idea is not be partisan – it is just for citizens to check and see if the government is really doing what it promised to do.

 

authors

 The authors/information trackers/founders.

 

In total there are 214 promises divided into 7 issue areas: culture, economy, environment, government, immigration, indigenous peoples, and security. You can click any tab and see a list of relevant promises. Each promise is tracked by “not started,” “in progress,” “achieved,” or “broken.” As of today, there are 25 promises in progress, 12 achieved, and 3 broken.

promises

If we look just at the environment section there are 28 promises in 4 subcategories: clean tech, climate change, national parks, and water. Thus far there have been no broken promises. Are broken promises always a bad thing? Not necessarily – it depends on where you stand on the issue! It might be a bad thing that the government promised to do something and didn’t, but there may be good reason (like new information, new technology, or a different economic context). You can decide for yourself how you want to use the information provided. Ultimately, it is you who will stand alone in a ballot box in 5 years and help decide which party to elect. It may matter to you a great deal that promises were broken (could be a sign of no integrity) or you may be happy that he broke the promises he did. Or you maybe willing to overlook broken promises because other issues, ones more important to you, were addressed during Trudeau’s tenure in office.

This website is an excellent example of the “watch dog” function that citizens can play. In 5 years when people go back to the polls, it is important to have data like this to reflect upon and evaluate the government (as discussed in Chapter 12). The website is free and open to all. As long as they are careful to fact-check the information, it will be a reliable source of information for citizens to use to hold their government accountable. I know I will continue to check-in with the website and measure the progress of the Trudeau government.

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