The fate of liberal democratic governments hinges importantly on building and sustaining political support for their agenda. Public consultation is one tool governments may use to secure this support. Public consultation, a very broad concept, may be regarded generally as the effort political and government leaders make, to seek input or comments from non-governmental actors. Consultations may be more or less inclusive, more or less wide-ranging. They may solicit the opinions of the public generally or only of selected stakeholders (individuals or groups with a particularly important interest or concern in an issue).

Public consultation also is risky. Governments may not receive the feedback they expect or would like to receive from whatever version of the public they consult. For this reason, governments may be tempted to shape consultation processes in ways privileging their preferred policy approaches. This presentation will focus on the government’s public consultation approach regarding the development of coal mining in Alberta. Specifically, the speaker will discuss the current UCP government’s communications and public consultations on the future of the Eastern Slopes, and the recent controversy over the Terms of Reference for the Coal Policy Committee.

Speaker: Dr. Ian Urquhart

Dr. Ian Urquhart is the Conservation Director of Alberta Wilderness Association and a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Alberta. His 2018 book Costly Fix: Power, Politics, and Nature in the Tar Sands was shortlisted for the Canadian Political Science Association’s Donald Smiley Prize, the award given to the best book published relating to the study of Canadian government and politics.

Session Video

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