The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Why Can’t Canada Feed Itself?

Posted on March 31, 2015

NOT EVERY PERSON IS HUNGRY, BUT MOST hungry people are poor. There’s no way around it; a person with too little nutrients finds life an ever-greater challenge. “We have to eat to live,” said Marty Rubin, “and that’s our timeless tale of tragedy.” In the modern West, this is becoming increasingly so. Speaking to Global News a short while ago, Priscilla from Saskatoon put out the stark choices that consistently drive some to hunger: “If I attempt to eat healthy, bills wouldn’t get paid. And most of the time I’m balancing what’s more important – a roof over our heads or the ability to eat healthy – or even eat three meals a day.” How can it be that one of the richest nations…

When the Past Can’t Escape the Present

Posted on March 26, 2015

TODAY THE LONDON FOOD BANK LAUNCHES its 29th Spring Food Drive amid growing doubts concerning this country’s resolve to take poverty, and those mired within it, seriously. Dr. Jason Gilliland, professor from Western University will report at the press conference that poverty and hunger have now become entrenched, not only in our city, but in numerous communities across the country. This is a difficult spot to arrive at for Canadians, for it effectively moves poverty from being a serious issue to tackle to a permanent class of individuals and families. Effectively, we appear to be coming to an end of what American author E. J. Dionne Jr. calls “the Long Consensus” –  an era where governments from all jurisdictions legally came together to join…

Get the Picture?

Posted on March 24, 2015

LOOK AT THIS PHOTO AND JUST TAKE IN its uniqueness. It’s from the Parliamentary holiday party in 1971 – a throwback to a previous era when respect in government was still seen as one of the prerequisites for effective public service. At the right is Tommy Douglas (NDP leader), dressed as King Arthur, but you can also spot Conservative leader Robert Stanfield, Stanley Knowles (NDP), and Audrey Schreyer as Queen Guinevere. It would be a gathering as difficult to pull off today as the original Christmas story. The occasion had been the annual Christmas party for the New Democratic Party and it was common for  figures from other parties to share in the spirit. Yet for a whole new generation of Canadians the thought…

Tell Me Their Names

Posted on March 19, 2015

MOVING INTO OUR 29th YEAR AS A FOOD BANK, WE ARE learning again that the poor just aren’t who we think they are – at times not even close. There have been those traditional ways of gauging poverty where governments establish income levels and project things from there in more or less absolute terms. All this is necessary for public policy reasons, but are blunt instruments when it comes to telling us what poverty is all about today. What’s important for us to get our heads around is that, regardless of how you define the poverty line, by most measures poverty has been getting worse in Canada over the last two decades. In such a case, there’s little point in belabouring the definitions of poverty…

Politics Without Inspiration = Fear

Posted on March 17, 2015

“PEOPLE GO TO FAR GREATER LENGTHS to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire,” noted one of the characters in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and our current brand of politics is proving this – over and over again. Manipulative politics understands that, while humans are naturally moved by hope, they are far more motivated by what they are afraid of; it’s been in our DNA from the beginning. They play to it, believing that it’s easier to get people into the voting booth through what they’re afraid of than by what inspires them. And so, in an increasingly dangerous world, political success is deemed to be located in that sweet spot where terror intersects with citizenship. This dynamic is increasingly…

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