eDemocracy Webinar Series - Social

Webinar Summary

1:18 - Host Andrea Reimer runs down the agenda for the eDemocracy chat.

3:06 - Andrea introduces Andrew Tarver, who currently practices in labor, humans right, administrative, and political law with Alvaretto Quail & Roy. Andrew has worked with political parties, unions, legislative officers, and First Nations, and has drafted and amended multiple pieces of legislation. 

5:08 - Andrew brings up his slides: Municipal Decision-Making in a Physically Distanced World. He recommends municipal staff stay up to date on changing legal requirements, especially as States of Emergency are implemented or expire. 

  • “The democratic legitimacy of municipal decisions does not spring solely from periodic elections, but also from a decision making process that is transparent, accessible to the public and mandated by law.” (Quoted from the Supreme Court of Canada)

8:25 - Andrew distinguishes between administrative decisions and legislative decisions, which each require different amounts of transparency, procedural fairness, and public accessibility. 

10:31 - Andrew uses BC and Ontario as case studies to explain how different jurisdictions will have specific legislative requirements around holding electronic council meetings. 

15:00 - Under the state of emergency, BC adopted Ministerial Order M0383, which allows council to hold electronic meetings. Andrew suggests that municipalities amend their procedural bylaws to allow for these meetings even once the state of emergency expires.

16:13 - Electronic public hearings differ from electronic council meetings. They must provide an opportunity or channel for people to provide feedback. 

17:24 - Council must also disclose information and materials so that the public is informed about the decision to take place. 

18:21 - Andrew gives some advice around the requirement in the Local Government Act that says municipalities must hold public hearings in a place that is accessible to the public. 

20:53 - Covering privacy requirements regarding security & storing of personal information. 

23:00 - Andrew explores accessibility: specifically on providing different avenues for people to comment on administrative decisions, and anticipating accommodations for people with disabilities.  

25:10 - Andrea introduces Carl Mavromichalis, Managing Partner at Converso, who is a leading authority on the use of communication, research, and technology to engage stakeholders during crises. 

27:31 - Carl brings up his slides and gives some background to Converso. Converso has worked primarily with governments on creating virtual telephone halls, such as the annual budget consultations they do with the Government of Alberta. They will call upwards of 400,000 phone numbers to consult over 35,000 Albertans. Converso have also held “mass scale telephone conference calls” for COVID19 responses, which allow people to ask questions and participate in real time over the phone.  

33:04 - Andrea introduces John Richardson, CEO and Founder of Ethelo.  

33:38 - John gives an overview of Ethelo, which combines a powerful algorithm for qualitative decision-making with a custom online interface and real-time collective results. Ethelo has worked with 150 different clients in 300 deliberative decision processes to do with processes like community planning, budgeting, and policy development. 

36:34 - John introduces a new partnership between Ethelo and Converso in response to concerns around how to continue to do engagements during physical distancing. Ethelo and Converso are proposing a 6 step process to achieving comprehensive engagements, using different engagement options, while still meeting legal requirements. The process involves: 

  • Large-scale outreach to promote a launch event for a particular engagement or consultation
  • Kick off the consultation with the launch event
  • Participants choose how they are comfortable engaging: through the online Ethelo platform, with a hardcopy response package, or through a phone concierge. This is to improve accessibility. 
  • Facilitated small-group deliberations online, to allow participants to discuss with each other as they would in an in-person meeting
  • All feedback is inputted to the Ethelo platform for real-time analysis of results
  • Final wrap-up to announce results and next steps, via an event that participants can video or call into 

44:34 - John and Andrea use polls questions to invite feedback from the audience. 

47:15 - Andrea asks Andrew to dive more into the differences between public hearings and policy decisions, and what kinds of decisions can be put on hold. 

50:40 - John and Carl to talk about how Ethelo, Converso, and an Ethelo-Converso hybrid tool address accessibility and multi-lingual barriers. 

54:06 - Would this hybrid tool be “able to create the level of intimacy you might need to have a trust-building conversation among strangers?”

57:00 - Andrea invites Andrew to give any closing advice or wisdom for folks.

Curious to learn more about the Ethelo + Converso Universal Access solution?

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