Driving Dialogue and Debate on Divisive Issues
Debate on issues critical to Canada has become polarized, leading to ‘wedge solutions’ and difficulty reaching shared agreement. This is a challenge for the government and the public service as they try to find answers to complex problems that unite rather than divide. To respond, the IOG is launching a constructive debate series that both addresses four complex challenges faced by the government and also gives public servants new knowledge, techniques and skills to reframe issues as win/wins. This innovative project has two objectives. First, it will be a forum to discuss issues central to the new mandate – including political divisiveness, Western alienation, the environment vs. the economy, and immigration. Second, it will provide public servants with the tools to develop, facilitate and execute dialogue and engagement strategies to work with opponents to find shared solutions. The project will help the public service support the government’s efforts to reach out to Canadians in ways that unite rather than divide. The series will include four forums, one per month from March to June 2020. Each session will work from a short discussion paper, designed to present many facets of a divisive issue. Two individuals will debate the issues presented with the goal of reaching a common solution. The debates will show that serious discussion can be collaborative and that, even where opponents disagree on key points, they can still work together to generate new ideas and perspectives that bring the two sides closer together. Following the debate, each session will offer discussion and learning opportunities for participants. A Working Group is being formed to support the project. The series will conclude with a final report that consolidates the learning from the debates and discussion papers. To learn more, or find out how you can support the project, please contact Laura Edgar by email at email@example.com or by phone at 613-562-0090 ext. 226.