The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Loving What Death Can Touch

Posted on January 31, 2010

Joel Wittstein was the only rabbi the Temple Israel in London, Ontario ever had. Discovering in 1987 that there was a small group of Reformist Jews desiring to make their faith compatible with the culture in which they lived, Wittstein sent in his resume and quickly became the first rabbi of the new synagogue. Almost immediately he began stretching the hearts and minds of the then small Jewish membership of some 35 families. As the years grew, so did his impact on the larger community around him. He reached out to the Roman Catholic community and explored ways in which the two faiths could explore their roots, rejoice in their commonalities, and ultimately broaden their thinking to embrace new realities. I first got to…

Sunday Morning In Haiti

Posted on January 31, 2010

It’s the earthquake plus two weeks. This morning Haitians across their country will face a different Sunday than last week, at least in their hearts and minds. Where a week ago there was shock, adrenalin, panic and the frantic search for loved ones, today there is reflection, deep pain, the sense of permanent loss. The emotion will have worn off and now the questions and despondency set in. In any disaster, people work overtime at its inception. Faced with a calamity too vast too comprehend, there is nevertheless the great urge to act, and in that great preoccupation comes a sense of purpose. Give it some time though, when the action has either succeeded or failed, and the purpose of it all is quietly,…

“A Foggy Day in London Town”

Posted on January 28, 2010

It defies understanding. Folks in my home town of London, Ontario woke up yesterday to the news that its bid for a world-leading HIV vaccine plant had been turned down. Up against three other communities in Canada (Laval, Peterborough and Winnipeg), the competition was stiff but exciting at the same time. Our city entered the fray with a world-class bid, supported by the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa – a key champion in the struggle against AIDS. The bid was centred around the research component of the University of Western Ontario, which already housed key researchers at the frontline of the fight against AIDS. Support arrived from all over the community when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and billionaire Bill Gates opened…

Say What?

Posted on January 27, 2010

Amidst all the compassion and confusion swirling around the relief efforts in Haiti these days came a rather bizarre announcement from Stephen Harper yesterday. Prior to heading off to Davos and the World Economic Forum, the PM announced that the focus in Canadian aid for the foreseeable future will be to “improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions.” He went on to say that stressing such a campaign will become a significant part of Canada’s lead in the upcoming G8 and G20 meetings held in Ontario in June. On the surface, this is welcome news. given that 500,000 women die each year and slightly over 9 million children perish before reaching their fifth birthday. But the initial response to…

10,000 Reasons

Posted on January 25, 2010

I was fortunate enough to get an briefing of the current Haiti situation from Bev Oda, CIDA’s minister, this past Saturday. The challenges faced by all the countries seeking to assist are indeed daunting. ¬†Some things I discovered: all orphans destined for Canadian adoptions have been located and identified 90% of the prospective adoptive parents have been contacted, with the rest to be reached shortly the airport in Port-au-Prince is handling 140 relief flights a day, with a two-hour turnaround time to offload the Haitian government is asking that all fire and police offering to assist from other countries come as teams and as self-contained units the World Food Programme has set up 4 major food centres, with 10 more to be added next…