Samara recently invited me to provide my thoughts on the challeges and opportunities facing Parliament for a piece to appear in the Globe and Mail. Here are the questions they sent and the answers I provided. Typically, baseball delivers a metaphor.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Parliament in the 21st century?
It would be easy to suggest advancements in technology represent the greatest challenge Parliament faces in the 21st century. This is not entirely true. Technology is only one element of a complex curve-knuckle-fastball.
Technology is the curveball component of this fancy pitch. Every time an MP achieves some level of comfort with certain software, platforms, communities and tools, the next iteration arrives.
The second piece is the knuckleball known as digital culture. Learning to read and respond to the subtleties and not-so-subtleties of language, personalities and styles test even the most socially-adept and communication-capable politicians. I’ll add here what I did not include in my original response that spin is generally sniffed out and unwelcome over social media, which makes the knuckleball a formidable challenge for many newcomers.
The third and final piece is velocity. Gone are the days MPs had time to research, consider, test and respond. Now they must respond first, then research, think really quickly, respond, consider, respond again, then test and respond. It’s not easy. And it means MPs need to learn how to present the evolution of their opinions.
What change would you propose to ‘redesign’ Parliament, and the way it works, so it’s more relevant to Canadians?
I’ve thought about this for a while. Just like the compound challenge I outlined above, I don’t think the answer is particularly simple. Ideally, Parliament needs to better educate and support MPs (and their staff) of all stripes so they can be better equipped to be a member of the digital culture.