The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Fire Sale

Posted on April 29, 2010

A myriad of emotions coursed through me as I watched the ambassador from Burkina Faso take her seat at the Foreign Affairs Committee table, accompanied by her Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Yoda. This was the same fearless woman who served as the able spokesperson for the 17 African ambassadors who arrayed themselves in front of the same committee last year and pleaded with Canada, CIDA in particular, to reverse its decision to pull long-term development aid out of their respective countries (see The Day Africa Invaded Canada). Both the ambassador and the minister put on a clear show of restraint, even though Canada’s abandonment of their struggling country still stings.  They didn’t have to remind the committee that Burkina Faso is one of the…

Long In The Tooth

Posted on April 29, 2010

Tonight was a perfect case in point. I rushed directly back from Halifax to be at the House for a series of four votes. They were fairly disparate,covering no particular theme. But on each and every one the government lost. There was no coalition; no behind the scenes negotiations among the opposition. In many ways it’s been like this since the last election; the government losing most of the smaller votes while surviving on the more crucial ones.  In so many of the less consequential votes, the government itself just refused to recognize them, even though Parliament had spoken. It’s something I never quite understood since I first came to the House and I comprehend it little better now. The government side was quieter…

Getting Past The Promises

Posted on April 28, 2010

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Canada’s hosting of this year’s G8 and G20 summits has placed a significant amount of pressure on the Harper government to show clear leadership at a time when international development in poorer countries is more required than ever.  When the Prime Minister announced that child and maternal health would form the subject of that leadership, many were heartened that a subject long-neglected would finally get due attention. The meetings here in Halifax this week provided International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda with an opportunity to move other G8 partners towards a clear consensus on how to move ahead on the file in time for the official meetings in a few weeks in Ontario. For Oda though, there is one elephant in…

The Gender 8

Posted on April 27, 2010

Just a brief observation from the G8 sessions today on food security and child and maternal health. CIDA minister Bev Oda and her colleagues were kind enough to include me in many of the events today – something that provided me a ringside seat. It was only as the morning session was underway that I noticed the makeup of the large conference table seating all the development ministers from the G8 countries. Every single one was male. Except for Canada, that is. It was striking to witness Bev Oda and CIDA president Margaret Biggs seated at the head of the table and ably leading the discussions dominated by men. All this reminded me once again what a special place CIDA has held in the…

A Clear Answer But A Present Danger

Posted on April 27, 2010

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – As I arrived at the G8 Development Ministers summit here today, protestors were still making their sentiments felt from a small park across from the hotel. It was an eclectic group, comprised of critics for financial transactions, trade reform, and workers rights organizations. One group apparently came to life later in the afternoon after the government’s parliamentary secretary for International Development rose during Question Period and stated firmly that his government would in no way fund abortions in its G8 child and maternal health initiative as part of its CIDA funding. This marked the first time the Harper Conservatives had disclosed that abortion was excluded. By the time news of that pronouncement reached the protestors here in Halifax it pumped…