range of marine-related consulting services.
inquiries, please contact me at email@example.com
of training in electronic navigation
training in navigation and boat handling
of safety management systems for small vessels
to small vessel owners in compliance with legal requirements
of boater awareness programs for safety
Policy and Design
In a democracy, law-making is the responsibility of
elected legislators, who are accountable to voters for unpopular or flawed
legislation. Law-making in the modern context is a highly complex
activity, fraught with technical detail. To complicate a proposed Act of
unnecessary detail would render it incomprehensible to the average
parliamentarian. So legislation often includes language that allows civil
servants (who are not accountable to the electorate) to make regulations which contain the detailed aspects of the regime.
Civil servants are not accountable directly to voters,
so regulations must be approved by the elected level of government which
is answerable to the public.
successive federal governments have put in place comprehensive rules for
the development of regulations by civil servants. These rules are
set out in the Cabinet
Directive on Regulatory Management.
Democratic Principles in
In Canada, the Federal Government's Cabinet
Directive on Regulatory Management specifies that when making regulations, consultation with
stakeholders, regulatees and First Nations must be meaningful. In
practice, consultation is often not meaningful, because regulators do not
understand the purpose of consultation.
Directive on Regulatory Management was implemented in 2012.
Previous versions of this directive are the Cabinet
Directive on Streamlining Regulations
(2007), and the Government
of Canada Regulatory Policy (1995).
All these policies acknowledge that it is essential to preserve
the principles of democracy when permitting departments to make
regulations which have the force of law. Thus regulation-making must
observe some basic principles.
- Regulations made by civil servants must be approved by the elected level of
government. In most cases this function is carried out by the Treasury
Board and must be signed into force by the Governor
must comply with the Cabinet Directive when developing
regulations, and must publish a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS)
with the proposed Regulations in the Canada Gazette Part I. The RIAS
explains how the department has complied with the Cabinet
Directive and provides detailed justification for the development of
must be prepared to justify regulatory intervention
must be evidence-based. Departments must demonstrate that a
problem exists and is serious enough or potentially so damaging as
to justify regulations. In many cases, individuals may propose
solutions when there is no specific problem or the problem is not
justifying regulations in the absence of scientific certainty, the
principle may be used if the consequences of inaction on the
part of the government are unacceptable.
benefits to Canadian society must outweigh the costs and the
administrative burden on individual Canadians and business must be
kept to a minimum. This is demonstrated by cost-benefit analysis
and red-tape reduction analysis.
Regulations must respect the Constitution, and inter-provincial
and international agreements.
must be consulted on the proposed regulations. Consultations must be
meaningful and must give special consideration to
following is a presentation made to the Town Council of Qualicum
Beach, BC on the subject of "meaningful consultation".
here for a PDF version
here for the power-point presentation
to Qualicum Beach Council on “Meaningful Consultation”
Worship, Councillors, Thank you for allowing me to speak to you this
evening on the subject of “meaningful consultation”.
I worked for more than a decade under the direction of various federal
regulatory policies, and I have conducted consultations from coast to
coast and in almost every province and territory on behalf of the Canadian
Coast Guard and Transport Canada. I was also Island Trustee for Lasqueti
Island during the development of its first OCP in the 1970s and later was
a member of the Powell River Regional Board’s Environment Committee, and
the Advisory Planning Commission for Lasqueti Island.
would like to open with the following statement about consultation from
the Canada West Foundation’s Enhancing
Public Consultation in the 21st Century
can be no more devastating criticism levelled against a consultation
process than the complaint “Nothing I did made the slightest
can safely say that a government ignores “meaningful consultation” at
its peril. Meaningful consultation results in positive respect for
government, even when difficult and otherwise unpopular decisions have to
be made. If one considers that consultation is too time consuming and
costly, just consider the cost of not consulting! In the long run it is
far greater. This is especially true in light of the recent Supreme Court
decision in “Community Association of New Yaletown v the City of
Canada we have a strong tradition of public consultation. This tradition
is expressed very clearly in Part 6 of the federal Cabinet Directive on Regulatory
Management, which calls for
“meaningful consultation” as the norm for federal departments and
agencies. Its purpose is to
“Create accessible, understandable and responsive regulation through
engagement, transparency, accountability and public scrutiny”.
An internet search
of the term “meaningful consultation” will reveal many other sources,
one of the best being “Supporting Meaningful Consultation with Parents” by the British
Columbia Council of Administrators of Special Education, which begins with
its heart, meaningful consultation is about interactive, two-way
communication and dialogue. Such consultation is undertaken to seek
information, advice and/or informed opinion for consideration
prior to decision making.”
the authorities agree; consultation that is not “meaningful
consultation” is not actually consultation at all. So what is meaningful
consultation? “Meaningful consultation” reflects the following
involves two-way meaningful dialogue, not just a single opportunity
for stakeholders to state their opinions. If the government simply
provides information and then listens to responses, (as it does during
public hearings) there is no dialogue, and thus no consultation.
provides stakeholders with a realistic opportunity to affect outcomes.
takes place prior to decision-making. Consultation that is done simply
in order to go “through the motions”, is not “meaningful
is no substitute for a referendum in which every voter’s vote is
counted, but there is an obligation on the government to ensure that
all points of view are represented.
for any particular issue may vary depending on the nature of the
issue. In general, a stakeholder is anyone who believes they have a
stake in the issue. Stakeholders may include (but should never be
limited to) people who are not residents but who do business or have
other interests in the community (ie. store owners, architects,
builders, nearby landowners and first nations, other governments,
have very different needs and styles of communication. Consultation
that is meaningful reaches out to people and gives them opportunities
to be involved. Times, locations and mechanisms for consultation are
as varied as the stakeholders themselves and should reflect the needs
and abilities of stakeholders to be involved.
consultation fosters an environment of respect. Everyone has something
important to offer. Everyone has different backgrounds, but these
backgrounds are recognized as contributing to and not detracting from
can be about principles, concepts or “big ideas”, but if so, once
a specific proposal has evolved out of consultations, it should be the
subject of renewed consultation. So consultation is usually an
alone is not consultation. Information is important, for the
government to accurately set out its issues and concerns, and for
stakeholders to fully understand the proposal. But information is only
one aspect of effective consultation.
consultations, the actual issue to be addressed must be clearly
spelled out. If the issue is not well defined, the solution may well
be the wrong one. It is the government’s job to demonstrate that the
solution is actually the best answer to the problem.
provides the opportunity to examine the “evidence” on which a
proposal is based. This should include all the studies or analyses
performed in order to demonstrate that the proposal is necessary and
will result in a net benefit to the community. These include but are
not limited to cost-benefit analysis, economic impact analysis,
transportation, environmental, social and land-use analyses. In
“Community Association of New Yaletown v the City of Vancouver”
the judge quashed a by-law and development permit because the city
failed to “…provide an intelligible (i.e. where do the numbers
come from?) financial justification…”
provides stakeholders with an opportunity to challenge the assumptions
and analysis that are used to justify the proposal. If, during
consultation it is discovered that the assumptions or analyses are
flawed and need to be re-evaluated, the government is able to (and
should) adjust its proposal to reflect this re-evaluation.
may not fully understand the details of a proposal, and may make
incorrect assumptions about those details. It is the government’s
responsibility to read “between the lines” and determine the
nature of the comments and their application to the discussion.
form of comments should not be limited. Opinions expressed in letters,
e-mails and other forms of communication should all be taken into
is conducted by the government, or its agents, to directly engage
stakeholders. As a result, Public Information Meetings conducted by
developers do not meet the criteria for meaningful consultation. A
Public Information Meeting may be a useful part of the process but
after the information meeting stakeholders need to discuss the
proposal without the developer as intermediary.
must be documented so that the process and the results can be referred
to at a later date. The records of consultation processes are a
treasure trove of important information.
finally—every consultation is different, involving different
stakeholders or circumstances. Consultation processes may differ as
well and may go by many different names, such as deliberative
democracy or “open space technology”, but meaningful consultation
is always based on these same basic principles
why does a government consult?
process is deeply rooted in fundamental democratic principles. It allows
the government to “take the temperature” of the community.
provides the government with valuable “ground-truth” about a
proposal and the assumptions on which it is based, thus providing the
information needed to re-assess or modify the proposal.
proposal is flawed, consultation helps to identify those flaws and to
make the proposal the best it can be.
gives the government and stakeholders the opportunity to test
alternate scenarios. Is there a “better mousetrap”?—a better way
to achieve the stated objectives? The little fellow in the
accompanying slide is challenging our concept of what constitutes a
provides “consensus-based” results. Not everyone will be happy
with the results, but if the process is honest and “meaningful”,
stakeholders become invested in the process and will take a degree of
ownership in the end result.
government does not consult with stakeholders to default on its obligation
to make decisions. That responsibility still rests with the government,
but if the process is followed properly, government decision-making will
be “consensus-based” and will strongly demonstrate its credibility and
urge council to take these principles to heart and to establish a policy
or bylaw on “meaningful consultation” that will guide deliberations on
the development of Official Community Plan reviews and / or any other
significant by-law or development proposal.
would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you this