The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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“A Great Country For Projects”

Posted on March 31, 2010

UNITED NATIONS, NYC – So Canada is in. The government has indicated its decision to pay $100 million to join a team of similarly minded funders to oversee the rebuilding of Haiti.  This is a good move and provides this country an ongoing seat at the table to follow-up on its pivotal emergency response in the days and weeks following the earthquake. Here at the United Nations with CIDA minister Bev Oda for the Haiti Donor’s Conference, I listen as the talk is all about how to get things right this time – to plan for a future response that is progressively better than past efforts. Better reforms are obviously needed.  All you have to do is think of Haitian society just prior to…

Sparse Thinking

Posted on March 30, 2010

Disappointing day yesterday. I have often seen Ottawa-Orléans Conservative Royal Galipeau taking visitors on tours of the House of Commons, stopping at various stations to unfold some little known historical facts.  He’s very good at it and has even had me assist him on a couple of occasions. His respect for Parliament has impressed me over the last three years. Until yesterday. What was he thinking when he opted to Tweet about how sparse Bloc and Liberal MPs were in the House on certain afternoons?  He knows well enough that his own party adopts exactly the same practice week in and week out. Numerous committee meetings are held in the afternoon, along with an endless stream of petitioners seeking assistance in one file or…

Power To Truth

Posted on March 29, 2010

A conference room in a Montreal hotel isn’t such a bad place to hold a Thinkers Conference in order to examine what Canada should look like at 150 years of age. Any kind of opposition to the Liberal direction of the last few years was presented in a respectful tone. Interested third parties got their opinions out, either at the event itself of through regional sessions connected via the Internet. Politicians themselves were, in fact, the benign audience, taking it all in and reflecting on truths shared. Now the roles are reversed – the thinking is over for a time, but the “doing” begins. As the politicians stream back into Ottawa, they aren’t heading back into a mere three-ring circus, as the public supposes,…

Truth To Power

Posted on March 29, 2010

So, the big weekend is over.  Despite media skepticism, the Canada 150 Thinkers Conference in Montreal exceeded expectations in certain ways. There was more interest across the country than first thought. Modern technology brought about a new and experiential kind of digital town hall that saw over 70 extended satellite mini-conferences stream in live over the Internet, while at the same time allowing for public participation. It maintained the number one ranking all weekend for most Tweets and, surprisingly, was watched in numerous countries around the world. And for all those who predicted a Liberal love-in, swarming around the victories of the past, there was the unexpected experience of witnessing some of this country’s best thinkers, of all political stripes, level their guns at…

Mile Wide, Inch Deep – A Sunday Read

Posted on March 28, 2010

This past October, I completed a book on the personal story of a woman in Darfur, whose entire life was turned repeatedly upside down whenever Western governments made “moral” edicts on those perpetrating the violence in that troubled region of the world.  Actions such as the indictment of the Sudanese President by the International Criminal Court inevitably meant more tragedy for the woman in the story.  The book concluded by stating that it remains unfair for us to make moral declarations when in reality we aren’t there on the ground to assist the woman whose life is inevitably endangered by our pronouncements. That conclusion came to my mind again a few weeks ago as the debate on child and maternal health swirled around Parliament…