The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Election 2015: What in the World?

Posted on September 29, 2015

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL, and was even marked “secret” on its cover page, but the contents were obtained by the Globe and Mail. It wasn’t pretty. Neither was it inconsequential. In a presentation prepared by senior Foreign Affairs officials for a high level meeting two weeks ago, the analysis could be wrapped up in one sentence: “Despite Canada’s reputation as an active player on the world stage, by many measures, its relative influence has declined or is under threat.” It wasn’t a conclusion the government would have liked to hear, and so it sought to keep it quiet. And yet we know it; Canadians have felt the slippage over recent years, but because these issues are at a global level they have felt there…

Election 2015: Underselling the Need for Change

Posted on September 25, 2015

John Ibbitson is a writer for the Globe and Mail and in 2005 he sent a valentine to Canada. He placed it in and red-and-white envelope on which he wrote The Polite Revolution: Perfecting the Canadian Dream. He sealed it with the Maple Leaf. It was basically an entreaty to look past the meagreness of politics and to think big. He also asked Canadians to think of themselves as a great people. Obvious in Ibbitson’s message was the evidence that dysfunctional politics shouldn’t hold citizens back from what they were capable of. And yet, sadly, it does, over and over again. One of the interesting developments of this federal election is the growing fear of decline that’s more prevalent than we realized. It’s not…

Election 2015: Going To The Place You Miss

Posted on September 22, 2015

I HAD COFFEE WITH A GROUP OF FRIENDS I meet with occasionally at a local coffee shop. Some were retired, but easily half of them were still in their careers. The topics of conversation often vary widely, but on this occasion they were focused on the recent federal political debate from Calgary. And they were troubled. It would be fair to say that the majority of the group came from the progressive conservative persuasion. Their parents had voted that way and they just kind of stayed on with it. Most had voted for Brian Mulroney in the 1980s. But the recent version of conservatism expressed by the present federal government was driving them to distraction. They viewed it as austere, too politically partisan, and…

Election 2015: Will That Be Cost or Value?

Posted on September 18, 2015

IT BECAME ONE OF THE MOST TALKED ABOUT experiments in modern psychology. Around 1970, Stanford researcher Walter Mischel decided to sit a series of four-year-olds in a room and put a marshmallow on a table in front of them. He told them that they could eat the marshmallow right away, but that if they waited until he returned he would give them two marshmallows. Videos shot of the children during that time revealed a lot of squirming and kicking, even kids banging their head on the table. Mischel then followed them through subsequent years and learned some fascinating trends. Those kids that waited until he returned did much better at school and had fewer behavioural problems. Thirteen years later, those kids that waited for…

Election 2015: Is There a Climate for Change?

Posted on September 15, 2015

I WROTE A COLUMN FOR THE London Free Press last weekend about the current refugee situation and its implications. There were a number who wrote in afterwards expressing interest in the following observation from that piece and asked for some additional information on environmental refugees: “How will we handle the rise of climate-change refugees in the coming years? Cutting the UN number projections in half would still see some 100 million refugees a year migrating around the globe over the next decades.  Added to those fleeing their homelands due to conflict and we begin to grasp the seriousness of the task ahead of us.” Many asked why this hasn’t taken higher priority in the federal election campaign, especially in light of the recent crisis.…