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In the digital age, governments face growing calls to become more open, collaborative, and networked. But can bureaucracies abandon their closed-by-design mindsets and operations and, more importantly, should they?

Opening the Government of Canada presents a compelling case for the importance of a more open model of governance in the digital age – but a model that continues to uphold traditional democratic principles at the heart of the Westminster system. Drawing on interviews with public officials and extensive analysis of government documents and social media accounts, Clarke details the untold story of the Canadian federal bureaucracy’s efforts to adapt to new digital pressures from the mid-2000s onward. This book argues that the bureaucracy’s tradition of closed government, fuelled by today’s antagonistic political communications culture, is at odds with evolving citizen expectations and new digital policy tools, including social media, crowdsourcing, and open data. Amanda Clarke also cautions that traditional democratic principles and practices essential to resilient governance must not be abandoned in the digital age, which may justify a more restrained opening of our governing institutions than is currently proposed by many academics and governments alike.

Striking a balance between reform and tradition, Opening the Government of Canada concludes with a series of pragmatic recommendations that lay out a roadmap for building a democratically robust, digital-era federal government.

This book will be of equal interest to political science and policy scholars and practitioners of public administration, including public servants, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, as well as Canadian political journalists, communications scholars, and information sciences scholars.

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