Reddit, surveys and online interventions: Evaluating public engagement efforts in communications policy development in Canada

Sabrina Wilkinson

19 Mar 2019, 3 p.m.
Room D (Chateau)

Recently, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada’s media regulator, has used a variety of digital methods to attempt to bolster public engagement in consultations related to communications policy in Canada.

These measures include the facilitation of a Reddit thread to engage Canadians on the issue of net neutrality, a public opinion survey to capture information about Canadians’ experiences with communications service providers, and attempts to increase the number of individuals who submit their views on relevant policy issues through the CRTC’s online intervention mechanism.

As part of a broader project that investigates the power dynamics at play in communications policy development in Canada, this presentation addresses two research questions: Do relevant stakeholders view digital engagement measures as an effective way to incorporate the public interest in communications policymaking in Canada? And, accounting for the complexities of the CRTC's policy development process more broadly, how meaningful and effective have these measures actually been?

To answer these questions, interviews were conducted with policymakers, lobbyists, public servants, journalists, public interest advocates, activists and academics. This research also catalogues how the CRTC gathered the perspectives of the public in recent policy consultations, and evaluates the procedures and norms that underpin CRTC policy development more broadly.