In recent months citizen assemblies in Ontario and the Netherlands have made great progress. During the summer the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly selected its members and then convened for the first time the weekend of September 10-11, 2006. The Ontario Citizens’ Assembly Secretariat has an excellent website describing these events. The Netherlands, meanwhile, finished its “consultation” phase and began its final “deliberations” stage the weekend of September 1-2. Click here for detailed first person accounts of w hat has been happening in the Netherlands.
Compared to both the British Columbia and Netherlands citizen assemblies, a major distinguishing feature of the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly is the large volume of news coming out in its early stages. This difference can probably best be explained by the efforts of the PR office in Ontario’s Citizens' Assembly Secretariat. This is in stark contrast to the Netherlands, where there appears to be little or no organized PR effort. British Columbia eventually had substantial news coverage but not until it was well underway. It will be interesting to see whether making the citizens assembly members feel like important public personages impacts their subsequent behavior and the appeal of serving in such an assembly.