It’s not necessary for government to agree with everything they hear from the public. In fact it’s an impossibility on issues on which the public is divided. But it IS necessary for government to listen, acknowledge the input, and explain how it was used and explain the final decision. Only then will a reasonable person feel their input on a public issue was valued.
While speaking yesterday to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the question of building consensus and listening to people. I believe that every public engagement practitioner will recognize in his remarks the fundamentals of the best practices that we strive for. To hear these sentiments issuing from a national leader is encouraging. It helps me to believe that, amid the daily noise of government, wise and thoughtful leaders are still working to achieve a more equitable, responsive and representative government.
CBC has posted a video of PM Trudeau’s exchange with Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson. Starting at around minute 4:15 as Trudeau says,
Can we build consensus? Can we do the right kinds of things? And when we move forward on some of the things that maybe some of you will disagree with, can we move forward in the least worst way?
By listening to you.
By responding to your concerns tangibly and concretely.
By making adjustments so that you understand that it is done in a sense of respect and collective responsibility.