The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Words Used To Confound

Posted on November 30, 2011

The Canadian language is dying. It didn’t get that way because it became too refined or scholastic for the average citizen but because it became an inane version of its former self. Words without power become shells that merely hold ideological axioms that seek to instantly answer every question with party approval and without thought. Consider the sheer confusion around the federal government’s decision to shelve that Canadian component of the Kyoto Protocol. Read some background here. Cabinet members have confirmed, then denied, then confirmed again that they will let it go. It is their reasoning for abandoning the commitment that reveals how political vocabulary has become the stuff of ideology. Listen to Environment Minister Peter Kent’s own reasoning: “I am neither confirming nor…

The Five-Year Lesson

Posted on November 28, 2011

Interesting day yesterday. My wife Jane read me a Toronto Star story about two 73 year-old men who got into an embarrassing tussle on the eve of this year’s Grey Cup battle in Vancouver. Watching this CBC video later in the morning, I was surprised to discover one of the belligerents was Joe Kapp, former BC Lions quarterback who helped the team to win the Grey Cup in 1963. Few remember it now but Kapp used to be the quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders just prior to his Vancouver sojourn. I was 10 years old at the time and the mascot for the team. Back then football players didn’t make much and Joe Kapp lived at our house beside the stadium during the season.…

Riot Time

Posted on November 25, 2011

Success for any community often depends on the difference between vocabulary and language. Articulating the current challenges faced by all regions across the country means communicating in ways that energize citizens to get involved. That’s what politics is supposed to be doing, but instead it seeks to provoke us through vocabulary – the careful selection of words and concepts that might prove useful to a particular agenda but which in the end cheapens the very language we need to overcome our problems. George Orwell took this a bit further when he wrote, “Political chaos is connected with the decay of language … one can probably bring about some kind of improvement by starting at the verbal end.”  Indeed. A real threat in our communities…

Thin Democracy

Posted on November 23, 2011

Some are surprised to learn that the planet Neptune wasn’t discovered; it was deduced. In 1846 the French astronomer Urbain le Verrier, who worked at the Paris observatory, undertook some remarkable calculations. His intuition told him that there must be an extra planet in the solar system. He had calculated gravitational pulls – those strange laws that kept the system together rotating around the sun – and in the end predicted precisely where Neptune would be situated. He understood that our solar system was a remarkably balanced construct of laws and that it held together because of something that nobody had yet seen. He sent his calculations off to an observatory in Germany and after some scrutiny astronomers discovered the planet exactly where he…

Layers

Posted on November 21, 2011

How does it feel when you hear billionaire Warren Buffett state, “Actually, there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won?” Though he was bemoaning that eventual outcome, it still stings to hear the words. The subject of class warfare is now being introduced increasingly into conversations, but it’s likely we’re not there – yet. Political stagnation and economic elitism have actually created a state of indifference. Citizens are cynical, slow in coming to terms with a future that might not be as prosperous as hoped. They are not angry enough to demand change, yet grow increasingly fretful over their financial future. This is especially true of the young, who now envision futures more characterized by poverty…

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