Democratic Engagement means taking part in the democratic process through political institutions, organizations, and activities. A society that enjoys a high level of democratic engagement is one where citizens freely participate in political activities, express their political views, and share political knowledge; where governments build relationships, trust, and encourage citizen participation; and, where democratic values are promoted by citizens, civic organizations, and all levels of government. A healthy democracy means more than voting in elections; it requires ongoing democratic engagement both during and between elections.
The framework of the Democratic Engagement domain is based upon the work of Samara Canada’s Democracy 360 report. There are three interrelated dimensions in the framework: (1) Participation, (2) Communication and, (3) Leadership.
Citizen engagement in political activity is an important part of democratic engagement. Citizens should feel invited and encouraged to take part in political and civic activities in more ways than just voting. Indicators in this dimension look at how many Canadians are participating in the electoral process and various other political activities.
Communication means building and maintaining a reliable, two-way dialogue between citizens and government. Elected officials should be reaching out through accessible channels with messaging that is consistent and meaningful to citizens. People need to make time to consider the issues and engage with others in political conversations. Indicators in this dimension look at the nature and effectiveness of communication between political leaders and their constituents.
Political leadership has considerable influence on democratic wellbeing. Members of Parliament and other political leaders should represent a diversity of Canadian citizens. As well, political leaders must work to create a culture that promotes citizen engagement in the democratic process. Indicators in this dimension identify the composition and effectiveness of political leadership in Canada, as well as the support citizens have for their leaders.