The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Democracy At Work

Posted on January 31, 2012

In many ways citizens deliberating with citizens is a lot more rare than we think. It happens in coffee shops and numerous other venues, but rarely is it organized. And when it is it usually overseen by government initiatives and key facilitators. The London, Ontario Citizen’s Panel has been solely a citizen with citizen effort, existing outside the political system but hoping to have input into policy decisions at the government levels. I have come to determine that the very future of democracy depends on just such initiatives – at all levels and in all places possible. As John Dewey put it: “The keynote of democracy as a way of life may be expressed as the necessity for the participation of every mature human…

On Being Seen

Posted on January 30, 2012

“Will we be seen, by others I mean?” I looked by at the man who had just asked the question, detecting the veiled fear in his gaze. He is one of the workers locked out of the ElectroMotive plant in London and worry over his family’s future grows with each passing day. It was actually his wife who had phoned me, asking if I would meet the two of them at a small restaurant near the plant itself. She had been pressing her husband to make that call for days, but when he just couldn’t do it she took the initiative for the sake of their two kids. They wanted to talk about how they would access the food bank because that time was…

The Best Hope for Business is the Business of Hope

Posted on January 27, 2012

The news is coming in fast and furious. More layoffs. Jobs vanishing altogether. Record profits. Increased employer/employee tensions.  Then from CIBC this week a new report acknowledging that it increasingly seems like there are only two choices remaining in play: underpaid or out of work. For the Davos Economic Forum attendees are hearing that globally people are growing restless and that perhaps present-day capitalism is no longer in sync with the world. How much longer must this go on? When the CIBC report states that things are now clearly arcing towards lower-paying positions while at the same time record profits are being announced, there will come a point when citizens will say STOP. At the risk of sounding outlandish, why not propose a new…

Coffee as Currency

Posted on January 26, 2012

This week I tweeted that I’d be heading out to the ElectroMotive line to stand with the workers in their well-publicized dispute with Caterpillar Inc. It wasn’t my first time attending and it won’t be my last. Then something unusual occurred. Adam Green, owner of Red Roaster in London, asked if I would swing by to meet him on my way out. To my delightful surprise he was ready with a huge container of coffee, along with all cream/milk containers required. “Just let them know I am thinking of them during what must be a tough time.” He then added, “I’ll keep helping.” Good guy. When my friend Josh and I arrived at the line a short while later the workers clapped when they…

We Want In

Posted on January 25, 2012

The Nation magazine recently asked 16 activists and economists the following relevant question: “If you had the ability to reinvent capitalism, where would you start?” The responses were wide-ranging but a synthesis of how they viewed modern capitalism fell into three main categories: 1) surplus is distributed by those who own, not those who work and make; 2) more consumption is always better; and 3) anything “outside” the economy, like the environment, may as well not exist.” Put in other terms, these three conclusions might say; 1) capital gleaned from production can be taken from the hands from those who make goods and placed in the sole possession of those who own; 2) in order to make more profit each year, as much has…