The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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A Healthy Response

Posted on April 28, 2009

“Openness under pressure.” That’s the best way I can describe Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s handling the news of the entire new flu strain that is racing across borders and states, leaving a troubling series of deaths in its wake. It’s the kind of thing that can test the emergency readiness of an entire medical system like Canada’s. And not necessarily the kind of file you’d wished handled by a rookie minister in the Conservative government. And yet that’s what she was – a rookie, and a very quiet and respectful one at that. We hardly notice her in the House. She takes few questions and delivers no barbs in the manner in which her colleagues lob their grenades every day. I passed her in…

Have A Little Faith

Posted on April 26, 2009

For a man at the pinnacle of power and one of the most important world leaders of the last 15 years, he was disarming. Tony Blair’s demeanour was one of humility, warmth and an endearingly mild self-deprecation. Forced to file in to the luncheon at the Royal York Hotel with other dignitaries, it was clear he had come to terms with being famous but was still uncomfortable with it. Blair was in Canada to speak about faith, the religious kind – hardly the road people expected him to travel down when he left office. But he sees faith and its possibilities strategically and he’s here to bring the powers of that faith together to with dire needs of Africa. Seated in the audience, I…

Parliament on the Potomac

Posted on April 21, 2009

WASHINGTON D.C. – Bob Rae cracked the entire bus up when he told the story of being Richard Nixon’s paperboy back in the 1960s and only getting a ten-cent tip for Christmas from the politician.  ”Even back then I seemed to have trouble with the Republicans,” he said to laughter once again. Deepak Obhrai (Conservative) told funny stories of his own visits. The two Bloc members, ably working through issues with an interpreter.  Paul Dewar (NDP) slipped in to have coffee with me and discussed his own sincere and moving hopes for Canada’s image in the world. Chair Kevin Sorenson (Conservative) was ably leading us through the numerous meetings. All were members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, here in Washington D.C. for meetings with…

Making Spiritual Poverty History

Posted on April 16, 2009

It was a offer hard to refuse. Jeffrey Sachs, special counsel to both President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was speaking at the Millennium Summit in Montreal this week. Would I consider having a private meeting with him to discuss humanitarian development issues around the world? Tough to turn down. For a full hour at the Congress Centre in Montreal we discussed the deeper needs of the Third World. He was fully engaged, asking pointed questions and showing interest in my own history in inter-national development. But he was angry – I could tell. We, the rich countries possessing the vast majority of the world’s wealth, were in the process of abandoning the most desperately poor. Despite promises made at G8 or…

Stomach Pains

Posted on April 16, 2009

Monday night we partied – or rather we ate. It was an ironic end to something of a difficult week. My wife and I co-direct the London Food Bank. I’ve held that role for 23 years as a volunteer, while my wife Jane has also been with the organization from the beginning. Along with some other families we opted to take the Food Bank Challenge to help highlight our Spring Food Drive. The drive itself was a resounding success, especially when you consider we received about 30% more food than we did during the same event last year. The challenge required us to go to the food bank itself and get the same kind of food hamper that a family of five visiting the…