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Rescuing Policy:  The Case for Public Engagement (2008 – 2012)

Between 2008 and 2012, Don led several ground-breaking public engagement projects and, in addition, conducted over 50 workshops on public engagement across Canada, Australia and in other parts of the world. The learning from this work was then captured in his book, Rescuing Policy:  The Case for Public Engagement which is an informed and accessible introduction to the field of public engagement, as well as a methodology for public engagement, and a sustained argument for the need to rethink the public policy process. Since its release in February 2012, over 10,000 copies have been distributed across Canada and abroad. Rescuing Policy was, in effect, the final report from Building-Capacity Together, a four-year project led by Don that involved nine federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and the Government of Australia. The project involved a series of milestone projects in the development of Middle Ground’s knowledge, skills, and capacity for public engagement, including:

The Renewal of the Ontario Condominium Act (May 2012 – January 2014)

In the spring of 2012, the Ontario government engaged Don to design, lead, manage and facilitate an 18-month public engagement process to renew Ontario’s Condominium Act. The process included three main stages, engaged several thousand people, and produced some 200 recommendations, which were then drafted into legislation and passed into law in the fall of 2015. Don’s two main reports from the process are: the Stage One Findings Report and the Stage Two Solutions Report. Don also wrote: A Case Study of Ontario’s Condominium Act Review, which describes the process and identifies lessons learned.

Poverty Reduction in Nunavut (February 2011 – February 2012)

When the Territorial government decided to develop a poverty reduction strategy, it engaged Don to design a process that would give the Inuit population a clear say in the results, while ensuring coherent and workable solutions. The three-stage process began with dialogues in 26 communities. In Stage 2, policy experts met at six regional roundtables to review the findings and develop policy proposals from them. Stage 3 culminated in a two-day summit, led by Premier Eva Aariak, with over 60 representatives and observers from all sectors and regions of the territory. Together, the summit participants produced The Makimaniq Plan: A Shared Approach to Poverty Reduction. Don’s final report on the project is: Healing Through Collaboration: A Case Study of the Nunavut Poverty Reduction Process.

Developing the Canadian Sport Policy  2012 (October 2009 – August 2011)

In April 2012, federal, provincial, and territorial ministers met in Iqaluit to endorse the Canadian Sport Policy. The two-year process leading up to this event included a complex set of engagement processes across the country, involving all three orders of government, sport organizations, and other stakeholders. The project’s steering committee engaged Don early on to serve as a key advisor on the project. Don’s book above, Rescuing Policy, contains a chapter on this process.

Community Engagement in Australia to Align and Co-Design Services (January 2011 – February 2012)

The Australian Government’s Department of Human Services engaged Don to help design and deliver a process using “community dialogue tables” to align services in nine communities. The project involved, Human Services, the State of Victoria, the Municipal Association of Victoria, and local officials, community service providers and residents from the nine municipalities. Don served as senior project advisor, facilitated many sessions, conducted interviews with the participants and officials involved, and wrote Building a Strategic Design Capacity with Community, which evaluated the project.

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