One weekend in June, 1991, a dozen Canadians met at a resort north of Toronto, under the auspices of Maclean's,'' Canada's leading newsweekly. They'd been scientifically chosen so that, together, they represented all the major sectors of public opinion in their deeply divided country. But despite their firmly held beliefs, each of them was interested in dialogue with people whose views differed from theirs. That dialogue was facilitated by "the guru of conflict resolution," Harvard University law professor Roger Fisher -- co-author of the classic ''Getting to Yes'' -- and two colleagues. Despite the fact that they'd never really listened to the viewpoints and experiences of others so unlike themselves and the tremendous time pressure (they had three days to develop a consensus vision for Canada), and despite being continuously watched by a camera crew from CTV television (who recorded the event for a special public-affairs program), these ordinary citizens succeeded in their mission. Their vision was published in four pages of fine print -- part of the 39 pages ''Maclean's devoted to describing their efforts (July 1, 1991 issue).
Like Congressperson Markey observed about the Boston effort, Maclean's editors suggested that "the process that led to the writing of the draft could be extended to address other issues." Assistant Managing Editor Robert Marshall noted that a parliamentary committee, a governmental consultative initiative, and a $27 million Citizens' Forum on Canada's Future that past efforts had all failed to create real dialogue among citizens about constructive solutions - even though those efforts involved 400,000 Canadians in focus groups, phone calls and mail-in reporting. "The experience of the Maclean's forum indicates that if a national dialogue ever does take place, it would be an extremely productive process."
The Maclean's experiment is a type of Citizen Consensus Council. Were something like this to be institutionalized as a highly publicized annual national event, it would approximate Jim Rough's vision of a national Wisdom Council (although the latter is a more sophisticated vision and process).
For a fuller description, see http://radio.weblogs.com/0120875/stories/2003/03/22/theCanadianExperiment.html
For pictures of the magazine issue and the people involved see http://www.co-intelligence.org/MacleansPhotos.html