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The Living Platform technology and methodology was developed from 2003-2005 in the Green Party of Ontario, Green Party of Canada and by nonpartisans favouring a progressive coalition. Its final incarnation did not fully disappear from sight and use until summer 2008. The most successful and famous incarnation was a tikiwiki version which the federal Greens used to produce their 2004 platform and answers to citizen questionnaires [1].

Its shutdown by Dermod Travis and the firing of Michael Pilling by Wayne Crookes became the focus of the Green Party of Canada because leaders don't matter campaign which cost Jim Harris the party's leadership.

The "LP" technology strongly resembled today's Globe and Mail policy wiki but with additional features to support mobile devices and to respect and keep divergent and unpopular positions visible in debate. The nonpartisan version's technology was used as a design basis for openpolitics.ca while the deep framing and issue/position/argument methodology was adapted and extended by dkosopedia.com and openingpolitics.org. Meanwhile, within the Greens, the technology and method faded away as that party became dependent on fulltime staff to author policy, press releases - alienating most participatory democracy advocates. A failed replacement, Living Policy, built on blog technology, finally died in 2008. From time to time some Greens advocate bringing back Living Platform without its essential features:

  • Unlimited public input, not restricted to party members
  • Mobile device support to let anyone look up content anywhere
  • A formal commitment from the party to present the platform created in the wiki, and only that platform, to voters
  • Mediation and methods to ensure that minority positions had adequate visibility and ability to present arguments and evidence without being overwhelmed by more popular positions or with more adamant advocates
  • Outreach beyond the web platform
  • Mandatory use of the technology to stage policy resolutions for conventions and inform members of major policy proposals by the leadership
  • Voluntary use of the technology to share answers to citizen questions and questionnaires, speeches, audio and video - a resolution passed at the federal Greens' 2006 convention required the party to at least provide facilities to do this, but as of February 2009 it had not done so
  • Use of the same technology to debate internal governance and support internal meetings - the Living Agenda

Extensive discussion of these issues and the Greens' departure from their participatory roots can be found on the gpc-members and newgreencanada yahoogroups, or the openpolitics.ca wiki. Due to Wayne Crookes' lawsuits and attempts to suppress comment on his role in the party's sharp change of direction, material on the latter source may only be visible to those who obtain an openpolitics.ca login. NDP members should be aware of this history when responding to claims by Greens to be participatory, inclusive, open, technologically saavy, or opposed to mass media spin doctoring or SLAPP lawsuits, all of which colour the truly amazing history of the Living Platform within their parties.

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