What is NPI?

May 13, 2014 - Let’s start with what NPI is NOT.

NPI is not an advocacy agency. We do not have a predetermined stance in any political, economic or social system. We will not be a “voice” on behalf of any particular interest.

We are not a consultant. We do not assess predetermined decisions, nor engage in decision-based evidence-seeking endeavours.

Take for example the following terms of reference:

  • “Assessing the impact of a provincially owned and operated road to the Ring of Fire”
  • “Assessing WHETHER the province should own and operate a road to the Ring of Fire”

The former inherently assumes the provincial government should own and operate the road to the Ring of Fire. On the other hand, the latter approaches the issue objectively, letting the evidence determine if the province should in fact own and operate the road or not. As such, this approach embodies what the Northern Policy Institute is. NPI is an institute who conducts INDEPENDENT policy work, to be used as evidence-based advice for effective decision making.

Our philosophy is based on the “evidence-driven/permission-giver” approach. This is the model that most think-tanks claim, but rarely achieve – a truly evidence-driven response to policy issues on a case-by-case basis. Often, evidence will lead to an answer that is broadly politically unpopular, or just unpalatable to particular groups or interests. In many cases, only the tip of the iceberg is revealed for certain issues. NPI intends to go where the evidence leads us – to uncover the full story, seeking impacts and effects that are drowned out by political bias and rhetoric. In doing so, NPI acts as “permission givers” to those holding constrained positions – such as, politicians seeking re-election, or public servants tasked with delivering on the mandate the elected government provides – allowing them to discuss or explore issues they would otherwise not explore for fear of the negative impacts on them, the “government, or their “party” or their other “interest”.

NPI will pull the unpopular subjects and solutions out from under the carpet, encouraging the public – the ultimate arbiters of what particular public policy is, or is not, acceptable – to reconsider the constraints they have placed on policy actors. Although this approach can be a tough job, can be slow to deliver results and requires a change in direction when new evidence comes to light, it tends to deliver truly lasting change that is sustainable.

Definitively, NPI is a non-partisan, not-for-profit institution providing fair, balanced and objective assessments of policy issues in a pan-Northern context. NPI is committed to working with and for all of Northern Ontario: not just the big cities nor just the small towns; and not just the NE, or the NW, or the far north. And of course, Northern Ontario is not a closed economy either – in some cases our efforts may extend to issues beyond our regional, provincial and national borders should the issues affect or be of interest to Northern Ontarians.

NPI seeks to deepen the understanding about the unique challenges of Northern Ontario, while embracing and utilising the unique opportunities that also come with our region. We are an institute who provides EVIDENCE-BASED solutions, FOR and FROM Northern Ontario.

Co-authored by  Charles Cirtwill and James Cuddy

The content of Northern Policy Institute’s blog is for general information and use. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NPI, its Board of Directors or its supporters. The authors take full responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of their respective blog posts. NPI will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information, nor will NPI be liable for any detriment caused from the display or use of this information.  Any links to other websites do not imply endorsement, nor is NPI responsible for the content of the linked websites.

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