Ontario Decide Which Events to Fund in the Bicentennial
camel is a horse designed by Committee" wittedly remarked Sir Alec
Issigonis, the famous designer of the MINI automobile. Those
words have haunted committee work since they were first uttered, and
many have suffered the truism of that statement on one occasion or
another. Even in military situations, lives were lost by trying to
run a war by a directionless committee. The solution to
this, is to always develop clear "terms of engagement" or outcome
measures for a committee. To achieve these results you need a
clear, tested, and transparent criteria to evaluate options that are put
A couple of years ago the Ministry of Tourism and Culture took on the
unique task of commemorating the War of 1812 bicentennial in Ontario.
Since the ministry's job is to support tourism experiences that create a
sustainable tourism industry, commemorating the significance of an
historical event that effected many parts of the province seems daunting.
Not only are they tasked to bring tourists they also have to respect the
memories of those who fought for Ontario. Their solution was to
break up the task into regional 1812 committees, who then are to
identify events and activities the province is to support financially.
However, what are the "terms of engagement"? How do committee
members decide what is important? How does the ministry divide its
finite resources? Is it decided by representation by population
with the biggest communities getting all the events? Or is it the
committee member with the biggest smile the winner? It should be
pointed out that there may indeed be a selection criteria that has not
been communicated to the public at the time of writing this.
However last fiscal year, the Ministry simply divided the budget up and
sent equal portions of money to the regional communities, which may
be an indication of an unclear way of how to pick the Good from the Bad
and the Ugly. This article humbly offers a possible guideline on
how to set priorities for distribution of Ministry's capital and effort.
So how do they prioritize? Happily there is a solution or at least a
starting point. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has
identified everything that is nationally significant for the War
of 1812 already by putting up a plaque about it. So if the event or
location is not nationally significant then it becomes a low funding
priority. However the immediate response would be: "There is still a
lot of nationally significant places and events. How do we triage the
list further?" Simple. If any level of government has made it a
priority to preserve and promote the national significance of the
place/event by hiring staff or building a visitor experience, then it is
obviously more nationally significant.
How is this useful to the average Joe and Jane? If you are a
tourist or a re-enactor, attending the commemoration of a
nationally significant event of the War of 1812 should be your priority.
If it is not identified as nationally significant, then it is probably a
dog-and-pony show (no offence intended to dogs and ponies).
As a taxpayer, you can use this selection criteria as a score card to
assess the success of the Ministry's efforts.
some tweaks that could be made to this formula to protect it from
"personal agenda" abuse, but the core is sound. Also wasting
energy "re-inventing the wheel" is avoided.
have always "punched above their weight", in that we have always gotten
more done with less resources than other nations. The
defence of Canada in 1812 is a shinning example of this. The
Battle for Vimy Ridge, WWII, Peacekeeping and our membership in the G7
are all evidence of the continuation of this national virtue.
Having a laser focus and firm discipline in setting funding priorities
for events and activities in 2012-2014 is in its self a tribute to those
who fought and died for us in the war.
Submissions of Opinions are welcomed by
e-mailing us. They
should be constructive and offer solutions to issues and not be
Rants (driven by frustration and letting off steam).
is open to anyone, around the world.