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primary plank development

Primary plank development starts from the point a draft plank is posted to the appropriate Platform 2005 Subcommittees page, and is completed when the Assembly approves the plank to go on to secondary plank development.

The object of primary plank development is to complete an IPA document, also known as an IPA. Primary development is finished when a subcommittee submits an IPA together with a plank summary to the platform 2005 assembly and the assembly approves it. Following the steps in primary developent ensures that before a plank is presented to the assembly, the important issues of that topic has been sufficiently defined, one or more positions have been proposed, and supporting and opposing arguments have been prepared.

A detailed step by step approach to primary Development


The following steps are reccommmended for As of fall 2004, most planks, even those included in Platform 2004, still require primary development. While it is optimistic to think that everyone will complete all of the steps below, our goal is to be moving toward more rigourous development of our planks.

  1. Start with the appropriate government websites. If you cannot find a federal government website pertaining to your plank, this may not be a federal issue. Learn the terminology used by government to describe the issues. Most political issues will have least one NGO commenting on them. Encylopedia articles, including Online Encyclopedias will establish terms of reference.
  2. Obtain copies of the Estimates – Plans and Priorities for your ministry or portfolio. These are the annual reports that each ministry or agency submits to Parliament, they contain project plans, timetables and budget estimates. Find any comment or review from think tank or political party sources, media commentary, especially criticisms, to deepen your sense of what is known to be problematic or questionable, and what is generally accepted.
  3. Read the Estimates to get a general sense of what the ministry has been doing, and the other comment for a sense of how it's been criticized. If you like, obtain a copy of the ministry’s sustainable development plan and ask how it intends to meet Kyoto Protocol commitments which devolve on all federal agencies. Put all the results of your research up in Living Platform like any other researcher - this will help to attract other trolls who will comment on it and keep doing the research as you shift to policy:
  4. Develop a list of questions you might have for the appropriate minister - even a questionnaire such as those you see in Answers to Questionnaires 2004. Develop a policy proposal and submit is for stage one approval to the PC via the Living Platform - effectively at this point it is a 200 word stub with many links to material especially backgrounders.
  5. Take your list of questions to three NGO’s, scour their web pages and other materials, refine your questions, and then ask NGO persons who are working in your area about them and the proposed policy. Ask if these are the questions they would ask. Ask who else you should ask. Consider using the delphi method.
  6. Refine your questions based on feedback from the NGO’s and then call some people in the relevant ministry or agency. (having found their phone number from the website or government publications) Most civil servants like answering questions put politely, if they are put in the terms that the civil servant understands. Try to build your list of contacts within the federal civil service. Higher level civil servants will be more political about giving answers, researchers and scientists less so.
  7. By yourself or in your subcommittee, define issues, what the GPC position ought to be, and assemble supporting arguments. This is known as the IPA approach.
  8. Augment your positions by reviewing cross party platform comparison to see what positions other parties have taken. Develop a sense of which Canadian federal political parties' positions you are close to, or advocating moving closer to. Refine your arguments based on how your plank differs from each other major party NDP, Conservative, Liberal and Bloc Quebecois.
  9. Based on all this research, and ongoing input from subcommittee members and advisors, submit your plank to the co-chairs and they will help you work with other Greens and the Platform Ctte. Invite others to help answering the questions you have posed. Consult widely, and let people participate, don’t resist changes.
  10. If you have sucessfully completed the above steps, congratualtions. You have become a skilled plank leader. It may now be best for you to pass off the responsibility for your plank, and repeat 1-7 on another plank. (People who can do 1-7 are actually much more valuable to the GPC than those who can do these later steps).


See also: how to draft a plank; Platform 2005 Process; guidelines for platform 2005 plank leaders