Governance of Digital Sequence Information and Impacts for Access and Benefit Sharing

By: Stuart J. Smyth, Diego M. Macall, Peter W.B. Phillips, Jeremy de Beer  (2019)

The decoupling of biological information from its material source has changed the global debate about access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources. What does the digitization of biological information mean for genetic resources of proven and potential value? What implications does DSI have for individuals and groups who have invested time and effort in augmenting and refining valuable characteristics in genetic resources? These are the types of questions that have emerged with the advent of digital sequence information (DSI). This paper explores the options for governments to continue advancing the goals of access and benefit sharing, when physical access to genetic resources is no longer needed because DSI is readily accessible. To do so, implications of DSI are explored through the lens of access to genetic resources for crop/plant breeding.

Do school physical activity policies and programs have a role in decreasing multiple screen time behaviours among youth?

By: Tarun Katapally, Rachel E. Laxer, Wei Qian, Scott T. Leatherdale (2017)

Screen time in youth has been associated with a wide range of poor health outcomes. Evidence indicates the need to develop physical activity (PA) school policies and programs that are aimed at decreasing youth screen time behaviours. This study aims to understand the association between PA policies and programs embedded into the functioning of 89 schools across two provinces in Canada and multiple screen time behaviours.

As part of the COMPASS Study, a total of 44,861 youth aged between 13 and 18 years and belonging to 89 schools in two Canadian provinces completed a validated questionnaire for health behaviours and outcomes data. PA policies and programs were measured using the School Policies and Practices Questionnaire, completed by the relevant school administrator. Participation in before-school, noon hour, or after-school intramural programs, participation in varsity sports, and access to indoor areas of PA during non-instructional time, was associated with significantly lower multiple screen time behaviours across both provinces. With exposure to multiple electronic and digital devices only predicted to increase among youth in the future, there is a need to conceptualize and integrate school-based screen time reducing PA policies and programs into the regular functioning of the schools.

Evaluating climate justice – attitudes and opinions of individual stakeholders in the United Nation Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties

By: Margot Hurlbert (2011)

This article evaluates the concept of climate justice in the context of global agreements to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigate climate change under the institutional direction of the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties. Results of this study is based on an analysis of the opinions and attitudes of stakeholders involved in climate change negotiations at the Copenhagen conference with respect to climate justice.

It begins by demonstrating the value of an enhanced, comprehensive conception of climate justice which includes legal, distributive, participatory and ethical justice. It adopts this robust conception of climate justice as its conceptual framework and the basis for measuring the opinions and attitudes of participants at the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen.

Following survey analysis, this study finds that in several instances, the deeper and more comprehensive conception of climate justices exposes gaps in one or more aspects of climate justice, making an achievement of binding climate change agreements difficult.

The Future of Computer-Supported Policy Analysis: Collaboration, Openness, Collective Intelligence, and Competition

By: Justin Longo (2015)

As advances in computer technology over the last half-century has been shown to impact public administration and policy analysis, this study explores the potential for such impacts to continue into the future.

It points out the influence of computer technology on policy analysis by first highlighting the role of the shift to positivism as a mode of thinking in public policy in the 1970s which required the policy analyst to be more quantitatively oriented, a need that was met by developments in computer technology. Secondly, the development of computer technology into mobile and more sophisticated forms with more processing abilities, supported by the development of the internet.

Going into the future, of note is the fact that high-profile failures in policy have led to calls for a re-evaluation of core quantitative models and questioning of positivism’s capacity to deal with complex problems. However, this study posits that the influence of two phenomena: enterprise social collaboration (the “inside government” policy analysis process) and the open governance movement (the “outside government” policy process) would shape the future of computer assisted policy analysis.

Evaluating Public Consultation in Nuclear Energy: The Importance of Problem Structuring and Scale

By: Margot Hurlbert (2007)

Public consultations increase legitimacy and moderate questions of citizen involvement in the governance of contentious issues. This study highlights the role of such engagements on the question of nuclear energy technology in Saskatchewan and provides specific policy directions for advancing public consultations going forward. It recommends that public participation regarding nuclear energy technology should be situated within a broader policy context that utilizes multiple processes and a longer time frame instead of a “one process, one question, and one time frame” method of public consultation. This study also points out that the public must find the consultation process itself legitimate first of all, otherwise they may question its use. Further, the system of information flow adopted for public consultation should do more than just fostering participation, hence must not be one-way.

Towards Policy Analysis 2.0: Platforms for Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration among Policy Analysts


This study explores the implications of the growing Web 2.0 phenomenon on policy analysis. Among other things, it seeks an understanding of the implication of using the social internet (social media) in policy formulation processes in the context of complexities associated with today’s policy issues. It is anticipated that the adoption of Web 2.0 tools in policy analysis will impact aspects of the policy formulation process, particularly internal knowledge sharing and collaborative work among public service workers, so an understanding of its effectiveness or its capacity to produce the anticipated impacts is necessary.

Bioproduct Approval Regulation: An Analysis of Front-line Governance Complexity


The governance of innovative technologies, especially those that carry a certain level of risk of uncertainty is complex. Risk assessments based on scientific methods which informs governance of innovative technologies have come under serious attack for ignoring the impact of normative judgements on individual perception of risks, making it critical that we understand the mechanics of such normative judgements in relation to regulatory frameworks for bio-based innovative technologies like genetically modified organisms (GMOs). To achieve this objective, the VALGEN project team applied Social Networking Analysis (SNA) and Kurtosis Analysis to theories of complexity and decomposability in analyzing the Canadian regulatory system for Plants with Novel Traits (PNT).

Unproven stem cell-based interventions & physicians’ professional obligations; a qualitative study with medical regulatory authorities in Canada

By: Amy Zarzeczny and Marianne Clark (July 2014)

The practice of “stem cell tourism”, including autologous stem cell treatment, is a growing concern due to the risks associated with it. Since physicians are central to the practise of ‘stem cell tourism’, this article argues that clarifying their professional responsibility regarding such treatment is critical to finding an adequate policy response to deal with the risks that they may raise. In Canada, medical practice in all the provinces is self-regulated by a College of Physicians and Surgeons, thus this study looks at the capacity of these regulatory authorities to guide their members’ conduct regarding stem cell tourism based on their current regulatory system.

Based on interview data, the research found that though challenges associated with stem cell tourism is currently not a huge concern, regulatory authorities in Canada recognize that complicated scenarios may emerge in the future. Regarding stem cell tourism, it was identified that issues may arise around: conflict of interest; managing patient’s expectations; and balancing physician-patient relationship. However, in any of those situations, Canadian physicians can apply the current body of regulation as a guide.

Pathways to power: Policy transitions and the reappearance of the nuclear power option in Saskatchewan

By: Margot Hurlbert, Kathleen McNutt & Jeremy Rayner (June 2011)

This study applies a multi-level analysis to the issue of power generation in Saskatchewan. While recognizing the limiting factors of historical, institutional, technological, economic, social and cultural practices that seem to have stabilized Saskatchewan’s power generation system in a specific socio-technical regime (STR), this study stresses that an understanding of possible changes at three levels: landscape, niche and regime will help policy makers in their task of meeting new pressures that now challenges the stability of the current fossil fuel driven power generation regime.

In considering new pressures like those emerging from environmental and climate challenges of our modern world, the study finds that there are three possible alternatives: (1) reproduction and transformation of the current STR set on the use of fossil fuel power generation system; (2) replacement and transformation of the current STR; and (3) dealignment and realignment if the pressures are considered to strong for the current STR to cope with.

All three options have considerable pros and cons, but an understanding of their implications would help policy makers advance as they consider the future of power generation in Saskatchewan.


Defining medical necessity in an age of personalised medicine: A view from Canada

By: Timothy Caulfield and Amy Zarzeczny (July 2014)

Personalized medicine provides specific care for each patient based on their unique cases. It has been linked to the idea of leveraging technologies that advances the capacity of medical practitioners to achieve patient tailored medical care. One of such technologies which is genomics.

At the heart of the discussion in this paper are the twin concepts of “medical necessity” and “personalized medicine/medical care”. This article argues that, while medical practices that leverage genomics can advance the goal of providing personalized medical care, it presents unique challenges in relation to the concept of medical necessity. The article points out that with genomics for example, a patient’s genetic profile may become a more common factor in determining what treatment is defined as ‘medically necessary’ and by extension whether a patient will get coverage for such treatments. This places a huge decision burden on medical practitioners, a situation that potentially presents a series of legal and ethical problems.

Maintaining Scientific Integrity in Canadian Regulatory Protocols: Using Strategic Thinking to Facilitate Innovation and Enhance Engagement

By: Lisa F. Clark, Michele Mastroeni and Cami Ryan (May 2015)

Genomic research in food and other living organisms has been accelerated in Canada in recent years. While Canada approves the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its food system, it still needs to resolve several questions regarding its approval system for GMOs, the scientific bases for determining safety of genetically modified crops and plants, the impact of uncertainties on the future of innovative technologies and the disconnect between the science in innovative technologies and existing social values.

Professional Regulation - A Potentially Valuable Tool in Responding to 'Stem Cell Tourism'"

By: Amy Zarzeczny, Timothy Caulfield, Ubaka Ogbogu, Peter Bell, Valorie A. Crooks, Kalina Kamenova, Zubin Master, Christen Rachul, Jeremy Snyder, Maeghan Toews, and Sonja Zoeller (July 2014)

The growing international market for unproven stem cell-based interventions advertised on a direct-to-consumer basis over the internet (“stem cell tourism”) is a source of concern because of the risks it presents to patients as well as their supporters, domestic health care systems, and the stem cell research field. Emerging responses such as public and health provider-focused education and national regulatory efforts are encouraging, but the market continues to grow. Physicians play a number of roles in the stem cell tourism market and, in many jurisdictions, are members of a regulated profession. In this article, the authors consider the use of professional regulation to address physician involvement in stem cell tourism. Although it is not without its limitations, professional regulation is a potentially valuable tool that can be employed in response to problematic types of physician involvement in the stem cell tourism market.

The Current Status of DNA Barcoding Technology for Species Identification in Fish Value Chains

By Lisa F. Clark (2015)

The market for fish and other sea foods has grown over the last decade. Global export for sea foods, including fish, is estimated to be worth over $100 billion (US). However, the industry has had to deal with labelling, identification and substitution issues. One technique adopted for resolving these issues is DNA barcoding, a technology that is considered to possess superior capacity for identifying fish and sea food products.

The Future of Policy Informatics

By: Justin Longo, Dara M. Wald, and David M. Hondula

Policy informatics studies the process of leveraging computation and communication technology in addressing complex public policy and administration problems, and creating innovative governance systems. The field of policy informatics is new and emerging; therefore, it is important that we study: (1) where policy informatics came from or how the field emerged, (2) where it appears to be headed, and (3) what the field can hope to offer the future.