Some of you may recall this great debate we had on the site over the merits of Citizens’ Assemblies. My friend, David Brock has gone and added fuel to the fire with an op-ed entitled “ in Thursday’s Toronto Star.
David punches a number of holes into the Citizens’ Assembly process, but I think his ultimate critique drives to the heart of the matter – that even citizens’ assemblies cannot escape the problem of representation. Someone, somewhere, made choices about which groups should and shouldn’t be represented within the assembly. This, naturally, has an impact the outcome. Choices will be made that favour some over others.
Representative democracy is far from perfect, but it at least allows those choices to be debated openly. Citizens’ Assemblies, in contrast, are top-down, opaque processes with little oversight or self-correcting mechanisms. I’m still searching for the evidence to see how they produce better, more equitable or more ‘representative’ outcomes.