- Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue
- Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue
- Climate Solutions
- Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access
- Health and Wellness
- International Relations
- Reconciliation and Decolonization
- Teaching and Learning
- Urban Sustainability
- Redefining Philanthropy
- Strengthening Democracy
- Talk Dialogue to Me Podcast
- SEMESTER IN DIALOGUE
- SFU COMMUNITY
What shapes our democratic culture for better or worse?
The Strengthening Canadian Democracy Initiative researches the intersections of policy, procedures and citizens' experiences to identify how we can create a more resilient democratic culture across all communities in Canada.
Through collaborations with institutions, practitioners and citizens we also design programs, conduct evaluations and explore options for legislative reform.
We identify what works, when and how to improve democracy.
Democracy is becoming increasingly volatile within our global village. In Canada, a majority of residents believe that our democracy is not working to meet the needs of ordinary Canadians, with low levels of trust in elected officials and key democratic institutions. This dissatisfaction increases Canada's vulnerability to the use of populist messaging and online misinformation for anti-democratic purposes.
We develop collaborations with institutions, practitioners, and citizens. We know that large numbers of Canadians desire more opportunities to learn about their democracy and engage in democratic activities. We also know that democratic behaviour is closely associated with Canadians' feeling of belonging and their sense of agency.
The Strengthening Canadian Democracy initiative seeks to increase the number of Canadians who identify as democratic champions. By exchanging best practices with democratic engagement practitioners and sparking conversations about why our democracy matters among all Canadians, we are working to increase the resiliency of our democratic system.
The Four Foundations
Two and a half years of research has identified four foundations that need to be strong for our democratic culture in Canada to remain resilient.
- Social connections
- Citizens and institutions
- Public discourse
- Civic education
The Five Principles
The five principles for democratic engagement provide a guide for designing and evaluating a range of democratic processes, from public participation in government decision-making to civic education, local community action, and the ways we share and discuss information.
- Build capacity to participate: We nurture the capacity of governments and citizens to engage and participate in the democratic process.
- Be inclusive and accessible: We create inclusive and accessible spaces that give voice to all citizens, including equity-seeking, underserved and marginalized communities.
- Deepen relationships and social connection: We seek to engage in ways that deepen relationships, increase social connection and create a sense of shared belonging.
- Foster commitment to democratic values: We seek to deepen citizens' commitment to democratic values and sense of ownership over their democratic system.
- Establish accountability: We design engagement processes that earn citizen's trust and establish accountability through responsiveness, evaluation, reporting and action.
- Public hearings not the way to deal with delicate False Creek South conceptual plan
- Jennifer Wolowic: A marvel of a public hearing in New Westminster
- Jennifer Wolowic: As in the U.S., rise of hatred, lack of accountability and civil strife are degrading democracy in Canada
- Letter: Sixth Street housing hearing handled with respect
- Robin Prest: Sustaining public confidence through COVID-19 will require leaders who listen
- Daniel Savas and Robin Prest: Can citizen connection fight misinformation and strengthen democracy?
TV and Radio Features
Articles and Op Eds
- "As in the U.S., rise of hatred, lack of accountability, and civil strike are degrading democracy in Canada."
- "Survey shows it’s time to sound the alarm over the state of Canada’s democracy"
- "Poll shows many Canadians disconnected from democracy, vulnerable to populism"
- "SFU Centre for Dialogue reveals fissures in Canadians' appreciation for democracy"
- "New Study Reveals Canadians Don't Think Politicians Actually Care About Them"
- "Canadians frustrated by state of democracy, study says"
- "Canadians unconvinced that voting actually matters: poll"
- Changes may be coming to local government public notices
- Changes may be coming to public hearings
- Participatory budgeting in schools gives students practice in direct democracy
- What I've been reading
- Can dialogue help us find a way forward, together?
- Democracy for whom?
- Can Canadian democracy catch the deliberative wave?
- The leaders we need
- Drawdown: Getting into action
- Heart to heart over Zoom
- Together we rise: A guest blog from Apathy is Boring
- "How can I help?": The 5 principles of democratic engagement in practice
- Give the gift of political discourse: Five tips for political conversations with family
- We're creating new sparks in democracy through libraries and micro-grants
- 5 political memes on my Facebook feed - and how they embody Canadians' views on democracy
- 10 types of voters you see as a poll worker
- Strengthening democracy is our continuing responsibility
- Belonging and democracy
- Does a sense of belonging strengthen democracy?
- Welcome our new Project Manager
- Do Canadians Trust Democratic Institutions?
- Les Canadiens font-ils confiance aux institutions démocratiques?
- How does disinformation affect Canadian democracy?
- Comment la désinformation affecte-t-elle la démocratie canadienne?
- How does a sense of belonging affect support for democracy in Canada?
- Comment un sentiment d'appartenance affecte-t-il le soutien à la démocratie au Canada?
- What Do Canadians Think About Democracy?
- La démocratie fonctionne-t-elle? Qu'en pense le Canada?
- How is nativism and the appeal of populism shaping democracy in Canada?
- Le nativisme et l'attrait du populisme: comment façonnent-ils la démocratie au Canada?