The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Affording Democracy – All We have Left

Posted on February 25, 2011

This is the last post in the “Affording Democracy” series, but it’s likely the most important. One of the most pivotal moments in our history was when we stopped saying “we as Canadians” and began saying “They the government.” It fails to serve the public interest and leaves citizens and their representatives separated and dysfunctional. The subject of political failure at the political level has been a common theme in these blogs and is no secret. But for democracy to truly function, individuals have to become citizens – an increasingly rare breed these days. We are rapidly morphing into a collection of individuals but not a people. We have little connection or relationship to one another. We don’t deliberate much. Unless we become attentive…

Affording Democracy – Canadian Idle

Posted on February 24, 2011

When public services are only driven through a partisan lens, the effects on a country like Canada can be devastating, in part because they occur below the surface and away from the public eye. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Look at this chart. We’ve heard repeatedly in the last two years that the government’s stimulus plans projects are heavily concentrated in Conservative ridings – something which is borne out with closer scrutiny. For some reason, Vaughan, Ontario received a hugely disproportionate share compared to other ridings, much higher than the Ontario average. The reason? We all know the answer – the recent by-election that saw Conservative candidate Julian Fantino eek out a narrow victory. Sure, it worked out for Vaughan, and for…

Affording Democracy – Pushing the Noun

Posted on February 23, 2011

At the end of the classic movie Inherit the Wind, lawyer Spencer Tracy casts a skeptical look at the journalist played by Gene Kelly and remarks, “You never pushed a noun against a verb except to blow up something.” Even back then (1960) the media was seen as more interested in sensationalism than truth. Politics in Canada isn’t so much like theatre or some kind of gladitorial contest; rather, the media has come to treat it as a kind of parody, which ironically it has become. It’s not real politics but a kind of diabolical stalemate of power. Observing this, Canadian media has resorted to reporting more on the shallowness of the current spectacle in Ottawa that on the price that is paid for…

Affording Democracy – “Morning In Canada”

Posted on February 22, 2011

So, it’s “Morning in America” again. The Republicans and the Tea Party recently celebrated what would have been Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday by calling on the country to finish the revolution he started. This wouldn’t only be devastating for an America struggling under so many loads, it would also be an exercise in the grand illusion. To be sure, the 40th president cut a larger-than-life profile and engendered great sentimentality in the process. Yet it’s true that all that warm apparition only masks those pivotal years when the United States began losing its way – and its bank account. Like Stephen Harper, he saw government as the great obstacle to prosperity and freedom. Where Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism from its greedy self, Reagan pictured…

Can Canada Afford Democracy?

Posted on February 21, 2011

Six months – even two months – ago, if pundits or politicians were asked, “If a scandal were to descend upon Ottawa, in which ministry do you think it would occur,” no one would have concluded CIDA or that its rather reclusive minister would be on the front page of every newspaper in the land. Ask any Canadian what the acronym “CIDA” itself stands for and you’ll merely get a shrug. Yet for all the anonymity, the swill surrounding the Canadian International Development Agency is threatening to peel back the layers of the present management of this country, revealing its threat to Canadian democracy. While the issue around the funding of KAIROS seems to have suddenly descended on a troubled capital, it’s a story…