Is having a say on which Monday in February should be a statutory holiday – BC Family Day – an example of government really engaging citizens, or a distraction away from more important, and relevant, issues? This is one of the topics CFAX 1070 host Adam Stirling and I discussed in our latest installment.
The BC Government is undergoing a two week public engagement exercise, using primarily social media, asking citizens for a preference on what day, starting in February 2013, should be declared ‘Family Day’.
excerpt from BC Government press release
Government will begin a citizen engagement process with the public, and consult with worker groups, employers, the tourism industry and the broader business sector in order to ensure all potential economic and social benefits are taken into account before finalizing a February date for the new holiday…
Since unveiling its Open Government plan in 2011, the Province has implemented a number of new policies and programs including the launch of the Open Information and DataBC websites, as well as a major redesign of the government’s web presence to make it more citizen-focused and user-friendly. In the coming months, B.C. will introduce a new public engagement website to better communicate and collaborate with British Columbians.
Using the Twitter hashtag #mybcfd, Facebook, blog comments, and an online voting system the stated aim is to gather feedback and present a report to the Minister of Labour, Citizen Services and Open Government Margaret MacDiarmid. On Tuesday May 15th there is also a Twitter Town Hall between 12 and 1pm using #mybcfd. It remains to be seen if the collated public preferences will be published in full, and taken into account by the BC Government. As we discussed, public engagement is vital in an increasingly ‘social media’ world, but dangers lurk if they are simply afterthoughts for policy decisions, or if public sentiment ends up being against government preference.
Note: after the interview Twitter posts from listeners provided more information on similar BC Government online and social media engagement initiatives including education and employment issues. Thanks to all who chimed in!
Twitter Town Halls and Tweet Chats are becoming increasingly popular, and can be an interesting method to engage people around an issue, topic, person or location. While they are not new, having been used in many election campaigns – and there are regular ‘Chats’, some involving thousands of participants like #JournChat – there has not been one set for Greater Victoria. Thanks to the idea from Susan Jones (@SusanJones), #YYJChat was initiated on May 8th as a four week experiment, and a showcase to business, organizations and local government on the potential for a local Tweet Chat.
You can participate in #YYJChat every Tuesday from 7:30pm to 8:30pm – for May 15th the guest is Dan Gunn, Executive Director of VIATeC!
To wrap, we talked about local organizations using social media for outreach, including the Victoria Children’s Choir, which is holding The World of Song spring concert on May 28th! – thanks to CFAX and Adam Stirling for the promotion!