Editorial 32-5

Policy-making in the public sphere is not for everyone. It’s simply not easy to please everybody, especially if there are voters’ opinions to consider. At the end of the day, however, a decision has to be made, favourable or not to the constituents. There are many ways to arrive at a policy decision. Research is at the root of many, and there are a range of research techniques. Evidence-based decision making is what the research and innovation ecosystem has been asking for. And the federal, provincial and territorial governments are apparently listening as can be gauged from recent budgets.
But evidence-based decisions are not 100% acceptable or favourable. Take the case of the recently announced intellectual property (IP) strategy. After months of consultation, different stakeholders have varying opinions on how the strategy was crafted and how exactly it will affect them. Some say an IP strategy should be there from Day 1 of any business planning. Some say it is not a priority at that stage but that it’s more important when companies scale up. Others argue that an IP strategy is especially crucial to smaller firms while some say large companies should be more concerned about it. Or it could depend on the nature of business or the kind of industry the company is in. There are many policy-making and decision-making theories that can be applied to how governments do what they have to do. But this is not about those theories. It’s a simple reminder that this is how it works in a democracy — everyone has a say, but the decision lies in the hands of only a few. With so many different interests at play, not everyone will like the decisions, no matter how much evidence backs them up.