The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Family Matters

Posted on May 31, 2010

It was an odd cab ride to the airport last week.  CBC Radio had asked if they could accompany me for an interview as I headed back to see my family.  The finished piece was played on CBC’s “The House” last weekend.  I had attempted to defend the rights of MPs to use their House-designated travel plans as a means of keeping their families together in what is an unbelievably hectic life. I thought about people like Russ Hiebert, a Conservative MP from the west coast and the virtual assault he has been under for attempting to keep his wife and small children with him during the hectic weeks.  As it is, most MPs miss some of the most important moments in their children’s…

Voyage of the Damned

Posted on May 30, 2010

I’ve only been home from Ottawa for two days and had my ears filled with complaints about the $1 billion price tag for the joint G8/G20 summits.  There were so many suggestions as to what could be done with that kind of money that I could tell people have thought long and hard about it. Occasionally I was asked: “Can’t you do something about it?” The direct answer is “no.” We were initially informed in the House that costs would run around $200 million, but that was before the government realized it couldn’t house the G20 in Muskoka. In light of their question about what could be done, I do have an idea, however. Fanciful though it may be, it would have been a…

Failed State

Posted on May 30, 2010

During a particularly ludicrous Question Period recently I found myself wondering – again – what was becoming of Parliament.  That same day I posed a question to a journalist friend of mine: “With no more conversation, dialogue, queries or answers, what’s the next state we enter in to?”  He ruminated a moment then replied: “I think we become a failed state.” The journalist was right, and his answer finds resonance in all the serious media commentators in Ottawa who aren’t chasing a Guergis here or a Jaffer there.  You have to have been in it for a time to notice the shifting of the tectonic plates, to spot the subtle changes that spell impending harm for the institution of Parliament itself. Since I’ve been…

Meet the Flintstone

Posted on May 25, 2010

Even Stephen Harper attempted to stifle a laugh.  It was Jean Chretien day on the Hill and the elderly Liberal giant brought an incredible lightness of being that has gone missing in this place in recent years.  The unveiling of his official portrait in its own way became a kind of transforming moment. It remains difficult to write a post on this because you just know that comments will be coming concerning numerous Chretien mistakes over all his years as Prime Minister – some people just can’t take a special moment for what it is. Outside of Chretien, it’s really hard to think of our last really funny PM.  Oh sure, there was Pierre Trudeau, but his wit was so knife-sharp that it often…

Coalition Language

Posted on May 24, 2010

No, this isn’t what you think it is.  Talk of a coalition between Liberals and NDP has been brewing in Ottawa for the last couple of weeks.  I read and watched it in the media, but no one has even mentioned it to me personally. No, I want to talk about the coalition “over there” – the one in Britain that has become more successful than people at first believed.  The new coalition government has been releasing a number of key statements of its plans for moving ahead, including a rather interesting one on international development. It might surprise some to learn that all 3 parties held to strong promises on this file, including full agreement to reach the old Lester Pearson goal of…