Deliberative Dialogues

Deliberative Dialogue as a Public Engagement Tool

In 2010, BCCIC launched a public engagement project to provide the tool of “deliberative dialogue” to its members as a means of meaningfully engaging the public on local-global issues. Focused primarily in Prince George, Kamloops, the Comox Valley, Vancouver and Victoria, BCCIC identified key partners and delivered an intensive training program that helped build their capacity to facilitate deliberative dialogues in their own communities. 

Deliberative dialogue, or public deliberation, is a technique to engage citizens in discussions of public policy.  Deliberation provides an opportunity to consider complex issues in more depth than is allowed by typical public consultation processes.  "A few public service ads or public meetings are not sufficient to engage the public in complex issues," says Jacquie Dale, deliberative dialogue trainer and facilitator with One World Inc. "Policy-makers may spend years working on an issue and then get impatient if citizens don't quickly come to a decision about it.  Members of the public also need time to work through difficult issues; deliberation provides a way to help do this." ~ excerpted from the CCIC resource article on public deliberation noted below, "Opening Dialogue, Opening Minds: Encouraging Citizen Engagement"

For a sense of what a deliberative dialogue looks like, please check out this video:

During 2010 - 2011, four deliberative dialogues were held amongst BCCIC members and partners, three in rural communities (Prince George, Kamloops and Comox



Valley) and one in Vancouver.  One dialogue issue brainstorming was also held in Victoria, as a preparatory step to framing an issue for a full dialogue.  Over 60 participants in the dialogue activities engaged in a deeper conversation on local-global issues with members of their community, explored ways of taking action individually and collectively while learning also about a new tool for discussing issues.

Participants in these sessions often commented that this was the first time they had heard of this tool and appreciated its ability to engage each other meaningfully. 



Comments included “[Deliberative dialogue]…creates empowerment within the community, very beneficial to promote change.” (Kamloops participant) and “I think this was a great preliminary meeting…I would like to see further dialogue to move forward with today’s ideas.” (Prince George).  One dialogue facilitator recommended this tool for a provincial government toolkit on addressing youth gang violence, while a Kamloops dialogue participant is considering how to incorporate the tool in her university studies.  Three dialogue facilitators, nursing students from North Island College (NIC), received funding from NIC to continue running dialogues over the 2010 and 2011 school year.

For more information about deliberative dialogue, please go to:
http://ccic.ca/resources/archives_public_deliberation_2003_overview_e.php
http://www.kettering.org/media_room/publications/creating_citizens_through_public_deliberation
http://www.canadasworld.ca/learnmor/ninenewr