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Here's What I'm Doing to Make Canada's Government More Open -- It's No Secret

09/13/2013 11:04 EDT | Updated 11/13/2013 05:12 EST

In April 2012, Canada became a proud member of the Open Government Partnership, a global movement, now numbering 60 countries, which looks to make government more transparent, effective and accountable. These goals reflect our government's commitment to good governance and the cost-effective and responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

On August 19, the federal government launched a three-week online consultation asking Canadians for their thoughts on how we have progressed on our Open Government agenda. We issued two news releases to promote the consultation and tweets are being posted daily encouraging Canadians to participate and provide feedback on everything from the Open Data portal and the International Aid Transparency Initiative to access to information.

As President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Open Government, I have tweeted about the consultation to my 33,000-plus Twitter followers. And I promoted it to a 300-strong audience of tech entrepreneurs and innovators during a live-streamed interview with Mark Barrenechea, the CEO of Canada's largest tech company, OpenText, during a visit to Waterloo, Ont., on Sept 5.

Yet somehow, according to Vincent Gogolek, the executive director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, the "[federal government doesn't] really want to hear from people about open government." Apparently, as he claims in his Sept. 5 column, the government never issued a news release. That's because the consultation, which is being heavily promoted on our open data site (data.gc.ca for those who don't know and I encourage you to visit), is "secret."

If the federal government doesn't want to hear from people about Open Government I need to ask myself, or perhaps Mr. Gogolek, why we conducted a series of roundtables in five Canadian cities this spring with Open Government and Open Data advocates, academics, innovators and entrepreneurs to get their feedback on our new open data portal, which we launched in June to much fanfare.

We also conducted an online survey in anticipation of the portal's launch, and I participated in the first Google Hangout by a federal minister in March to discuss the possibilities and potential of Open Data. I've hosted twitter town halls on Open Government and I traveled to Vancouver last February to take part in International Open Data Day and meet young data enthusiasts.

I would like nothing more than to hear from Canadians about Open Government and how we can continue to increase transparency and accountability in how taxpayer dollars are spent. I have dedicated much time to raising awareness about the opportunity Open Government offers to encourage greater citizen engagement, spur innovation and create economic benefit.

For those who have not had a chance to participate in our Open Government survey, it has been extended for an additional week, until Sept 16. If Mr. Gogolek would like to participate he can visit data.gc.ca.

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