Author: Casey Vander Ploeg
This report summarizes the findings of Assembly ’96. From August 22-29 of 1996, ninety-seven young adults from all walks of life across Canada met at the Terry Fox Centre in Ottawa to discuss the important economic, political and social issues facing their country. This meeting was known as Assembly ’96.
The purpose of Assembly ‘96 was three-fold:
1) To bring together a group of young Canadians to consider and voice their opinions on the important economic, social and political issues which confront their country;
2) To generate some fresh thoughts, perspectives and ideas for renewing Canada, and
3) To initiate Canada’s first experiment in deliberative democracy – an expanded opinion poll coupled with an enhanced policy conference.
Participants were asked to consider four topics:
1) Canadian Values;
2) The Economy;
3) National Unity; and
4) Representation and Participation.
The resulting discussions indicated quality of life and the diversity of Canada as important things that young adults value about their country. The economy emerged as the primary concern of participants, particularly the issues of jobs, government debt, cuts to social programs, and education and job training.
A strong consensus emerged for a re-balancing of roles and responsibilities between the federal and provincial governments as a way to manage the diversity of Canada. Frustration was expressed with the lack of accountability in the structures of government. A number of fixes were recommended, including more referendums, more free votes in Parliament and the legislatures and a call that no real change will occur without Canadians themselves actually demanding more from their elected leaders.