The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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A Hill to Die On

Posted on April 26, 2012

It all ended so badly – the tone perhaps worse than the ultimate decision. Following 10 years of diligent effort and compromise, a citizen’s group from London, Ontario learned in harsh finality that, for all the trumpeting of the need for citizen engagement, politicians with private agendas have little time for it. At issue was a historic area of the city called Reservoir Hill – the site of a battle in the War of 1812 and elevation that perhaps produces the finest view of the city. For a decade citizens had struggled to keep a developer from placing a 12-storey apartment on the site that didn’t conform to OMB decisions. They had been consistently supported by previous councils, citizen’s groups and the Ontario Municipal…


Posted on April 24, 2012

All of this is becoming a little passé and perhaps irrelevant these days, but to read the ideals of democracy by some of its earlier proponents can be quite uplifting. When Robert Dahl, Professor Emeritus at Yale University said in 1956, “At a minimum, modern democracy is concerned with processes by which ordinary citizens exert a relatively high degree of control over leaders,” who doesn’t feel a certain desire for such a reality? Or when David Easton, the Canadian political scientist, stated in 1953, “Democracy is a political system in which power is so distributed that control over the authoritative allocation of values lies in the hands of the mass of people,” what’s not to like about that? While such concepts might have seemed…

Canada’s Game of Thrones

Posted on April 23, 2012

Game of Thrones – a popular book series now made into a television series. It’s about power and the never-ending pursuit of it, the endless hankering for it, and the fallout from the endless battles. Kind of like our present brand of Canadian politics. See the link below to read my latest Huffington Post piece.

For All Of It

Posted on April 20, 2012

This weekend we celebrate the birthdays of our twin girls Abuk and Achan. I just can’t let that day go by without thinking of another day, in another continent, celebrating another miracle. We had touched down on the dirt airstrip in Malualkon, South Sudan. It was packed with people wanting to see the little girl. We had adopted Abuk four years earlier and had brought her back to this village from which she departed. Cheering erupted the moment she stepped through the door of the small plane. I don’t quite remember too much after that, for there on the ground was a little girl playing in the dirt and preoccupied with something she was drawing. Suddenly she looked up directly into my eyes and…

To the Marrow

Posted on April 19, 2012

In their 1991 groundbreaking work The Good Society, authors and researchers led by Robert Bellah concluded that without institutions modern society might as well padlock the door and wait for the end. Regardless of how diligent, generous or capable an individual may be, without the ability to strengthen and enhance our institutions all historic societal gains will be lost and people will become adrift from one another. The writers made a case for our institutions being the “patterned way we live together,” and concluded with what should have been obvious to all of us: “We live through institutions.” Granted those things that have held us together in the past – places of worship, governments, media organizations, educational institutions, and even democracy itself – can,…