Connecting with Canadians
Democracy, Governance and Citizenship
There is a growing perception among Canadians that our democracy isn't working as well as it should. Some see the problem as citizens not being full participants in decision-making – from low voter turnout to having no voice in policy-making. Citizen participation is a problem not only for the citizens themselves, but for elected officials, political parties, public servants and civil society – all of whom want to know how and when to involve the public in the policy process.
Governance is critical in this citizen engagement. Governance involves a web of networks – including public and private sectors, institutions, organizations and individual actors – that can influence how or even whether the preferences and choices of citizens are reflected in policy and program delivery. CPRN's research program describes and assesses the impact of governance on policy-making.
Citizenship is an important element in discussions of participation and inclusion. Citizens have rights and responsibilities. Balancing the two is an ongoing challenge as the core values of citizens evolve over time in response to political, economic and demographic circumstances – with the recognition that certain fundamental values remain constant.
In Canada, the realignment of state and market over the last 20 years has altered our sense of common citizenship. It has also raised awareness of the importance of fostering access and belonging to the institutions of citizenship. CPRN's work on citizenship focuses on the different ways people understand and practice citizenship at every stage of their lives, including the supports and spaces they need to fulfill their citizenship aspirations.