The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Planting Some New Thoughts

Posted on October 30, 2009

International Cooperation minister Bev Oda flies to Rome shortly for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) food summit.  As such gatherings go, it doesn’t compare with its more noted cousins, such as the G8 or G20 summits, yet Oda heads to Italy to deal with one of the most crucial challenges facing the planet. Presently, a record one billion people are now hungry worldwide and recent reports claim that number will increase significantly if governments don’t spend more on agriculture and food security.  The FAO itself reports that 30 countries now require emergency aid, with 20 of those being in Africa itself. When a child dies every six seconds due to malnutrition, you know there’s a problem. The issue is: What’s the solution?  In…

What The Heckle?

Posted on October 27, 2009

In my short life here in Parliament I had never seen anything like it. From up in the gallery, above where the media sits, students began yelling out that MPs should rush to pass Bill C-311, known in recent weeks as the Climate Change Bill. As the minutes went on, more and more of the young people heckled the parliamentarians below until at last they were removed from the House altogether. To some it was entertaining, to others distracting, but the general feeling was one of surprise and discomfort. I had met with another group of university students earlier in the day in my office and I could sense their strong commitment to environmental reform.  I liked them.  They were keen and eloquent, and…

Canada’s Natural Governing Party

Posted on October 25, 2009

Andrew Coyne put forward an interesting premise a few days ago: “Time For Ignatieff To Take A Chance.” The popular Maclean’s columnist suggested it might be time for Michael Ignatieff to rip up those prepared speeches and just speak from the heart. He believes the public is looking for someone who’s truly “authentic” and they would likely “rush the barriers” to see Ignatieff if he just put it all out there. Coyne presses on to say that Canada’s present political climate is largely dishonest and timid – incapable of taking Canadians where they really need to go. It was a well-written column but I still wonder as to its premise. Let’s be honest: No political leader in their right mind dares to be as…

The Secret Evil

Posted on October 23, 2009

Darfur had fallen off the world’s radar screen until last week, when the Obama administration opted to begin a more progressive engagement with the Sudanese government – the merits of which remain uncertain. The administration’s special Sudan envoy, Scott Gration, likens Obama’s approach as a “carrot and stick” attempt to get Sudanese president Omar Bashir to deal more effectively with the devastation and criminal neglect still inflicted upon the average person in Darfur. That’s all well and good, but there remains one deep and sinister practice condoned by the Sudanese government that screams for attention but whose voice seems to dissipate into a deep void. Rape is a tragic trait in most conflicts, but in Sudan it takes on a sinister quality, in part…

CIDA – With Affection (2)

Posted on October 20, 2009

There’s a reason CIDA has a coterie of anonymous lovers.  The NGOs who contributed their own ideas to overcome the organization’s shortcomings didn’t want their identities revealed for fear they would have their present and future funding cut.  That likely says more about the Agency that anything else – just at a time when it needs friends, its heavy-handedness keeps them at a distance.  Nevertheless some of their ideas are listed here, along with my own, for how to make next year’s annual report more transparent and accountable. Come into the open – most NGOs and other qualified observers state that it remains unclear whether Bill C-293 has had much effect on the Agency at all. Efforts by many to acquire more evidence from…