Foreign Policy By Canadians logo

Foreign Policy By Canadians is a joint initiative between the Canadian International Council (CIC), Global Canada and the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) to reimagine Canada’s global engagement. It is a national conversation for Canadians from all walks of life to convene and present their perspectives on Canada’s role in the world.

How does it work? 

Framed by expert discussion and underpinned by innovative online technology to facilitate large-scale interaction among citizens, Foreign Policy By Canadians will mark the beginning of a new approach to sustainable, inclusive and meaningful engagement.

To understand the views of everyday citizens, CanWaCH and the CIC will run a deliberative democracy exercise. Using techniques developed by the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, this project will identify a representative sample of the entire Canadian population. Some 400 citizens will be briefed on the critical issues facing Canada in the world and will deliberate on policy proposals. The results will provide an indication of the range of perspectives Canadians have about Canada’s role in the world when exposed to the issues at stake.

Step One: Grassroots process to set the agenda for citizens to review

From March to October Canadians from coast to coast debated which issues they believe required greatest attention. CIC branches in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax organized events to invite experts to explore these issues. These were aggregated into a national agenda by the specific objective at stake for Canadians, from our health to our security, our prosperity and our dignity.

Step Two: Development of discussion guides that will inform citizens

Discussion guides on the four key areas of focus: health, security, the economy, and human dignity. The guides will undergo a rigorous drafting and review process by credible subject-matter experts (academics, civil society, etc.). These concise, factual information guides will present pro- and con-policy options to be shared with participants prior to their participation in the deliberation process. 

Step Three: Gauging opinions and deliberation exercise with a representative sample of the Canadian population 

  • Participant opinions are assessed through polling before the deliberation process begins. 
    • Discussion guides are distributed
      • Participants gather in small groups and deliberate virtually amongst themselves with the help of moderators and with access to subject-matter experts. 
        • Following the online discussions, participant opinions are measured once more through polling to gauge the effect of the deliberation. 

Step Four: Sharing the results

Once the deliberative democracy exercise has concluded in the spring of 2021, the results of this initiative will be published in a final report. These results can be used by decision-makers and/or to inform public policy, international development projects, and future areas of research.