Meaningful Public Consultation Act
A legal definition of meaningful public consultation for NB.
The following is adapted from federally-based work of Duff Conacher, Coordinator, Democracy Watch
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Meaningful Public Consultation
Suggestions for measures to include in a "Meaningful Public Consultation Act" are set out below in order to set out requirements that must be met for a public consultation to be meaningful.
The 2001 federal Code of Good Practice on Policy Dialogue contains other good suggested sections. Consultation principles are outlined at the Consulting Canadians website.
Meaningful Public Consultation
SUGGESTED "Meaningful Public Consultation Act" for the province of New Brunswick
1. This act may be cited as the "Meaningful Public Consultation Act".
2. "Meaningful public consultation" is defined as a consultation process that includes the following required steps:
(a) issuance by the government institution (including any committee, task force, advisory panel or similar entity appointed by any member of the Cabinet or the Legislature as a whole) conducting the consultation of a news release about the consultation, and issuance of a notice about the consultation on Meaningful Consulting with New Brunswickers
(b) four separate parts of the consultation process, conducted chronologically in the following order: (1) a consultation with individual academics and experts; (2) a consultation with citizen groups; (3) a consultation with business groups, and; (4) a consultation with citizens.
(c) disclosure to the participants in each part of the overall consultation and the public of all of the information in possession of the government that is relevant to the decision that is the subject of the consultation, and of all of the options the government is considering in making the decision;
(d) during the 60-day time period after the disclosure under 2(c), independently coordinated meetings in person and via telephone and online with the participants in parts 2(b)(1) to (3) to answer their questions about the information and options disclosed by the government;
(e) a time period of at least 60 days after the question period under 2(d) during which participants in parts 2(b)(1) to (3) of the consultation have a right to file their submission to the government.
(f) disclosure to participants of all the submissions made by anyone participating in the consultation;
(g) a further 60 days after the disclosure of any submission for any participant in the consultation to submit a response to any other submission;
(h) selection of participants in the citizen consultation part of the overall consultation process under 2(b)(4) through a random, statistically valid selection process of a representative sample of citizens;
(i) after the selection of the participants in the 2(b)(4) citizen consultation, at least three separate in-person, phone or online meetings with participants to answer their questions about the information and options disclosed by the government;
(j) after the meetings under 2(i), a period of 90 days during which citizens have the right to file their submission with the government;
(k) at least 90 days before any decision is made by the government institution, production and public disclosure of a summary report of the consultation that, in a statistically valid and detailed manner, discloses the identities and sets out the positions supported by the participants in each of the four parts of the consultation, and overall.
Binding on Her Majesty
3. This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of New Brunswick.
4. (1) The purposes of this Act are (a) to ensure that significant policy decisions by all responsible authorities in the provincial government are considered in a careful and precautionary manner before authorities make them, in order to ensure that the decisions do not cause significant adverse effects on New Brunswickers;
(b) to ensure that there be opportunities for timely and meaningful public participation throughout the provincial policy-making process.
(c) to ensure that responsible authorities carry out their responsibilities in a coordinated manner with a view to eliminating unnecessary duplication in the policy-making process;
(d) to promote cooperation and coordinated action between federal and provincial governments with respect to policy-making, and;
(e) to promote communication and cooperation between responsible authorities and Aboriginal peoples with respect to policy-making.
(2) Duties of the Government of New Brunswick In the administration of this Act, the Government of New Brunswick, the Minister, the Agency and all bodies subject to the provisions of this Act, including provincial authorities and responsible authorities, shall exercise their powers in a manner that ensures meaningful consultation with the public before significant decisions are made.
Decisions requiring meaningful public consultation
5. (1) Meaningful public consultation is required before a provincial authority makes a decision that commits the provincial authority to carrying out the decision in whole or in part and
(b) affects a significant number of New Brunswickers;
(c) or will result in any change to the raising of revenue for, or spending of, a significant dollar amount of the provincial budget.
Timing of meaningful public consultation
6. (1) Where meaningful public consultation is required, the provincial authority referred to in section 5 in relation to the decision shall ensure that the consultation is conducted as early as is practicable in the decision-making process and before irrevocable decisions are made, and shall be referred to in this Act as the responsible authority in relation to the decision.
No power, etc., to be exercised until assessment is complete
(2) A responsible authority shall not make a decision until the consultation referred to in section 5 is completed.