The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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The Big Winner in American Politics? Memory

Posted on March 31, 2016

A YEAR AGO, HARDLY ANYONE GAVE DONALD TRUMP A CHANCE. And Bernie Sanders? Wasn’t he that old guy destined to be steamrolled by the Hillary Clinton’s finely tuned and well-funded machine? Now, with less than a year before the big election it turns out that these two leaders have turned American politics on its head. Not only have they agitated both the Republican and Democratic parties into states of profound introspection, between the two of them Sanders and Trump have recruited millions of new voters. How come nobody saw this coming? Pollsters, pundits, and personalities missed by a wide margin all that we are watching right now on our television screens. It’s becoming more apparent that the great dysfunction in American politics is being…

Stillborn Democracy

Posted on March 29, 2016

This post can also be viewed at National Newswatch here. HIS ELECTION CAMPAIGN SIGNED UP MILLIONS of new voters, partly by the ingenious use of modern communications technology. Being young and vibrant, it was only a natural development that younger generations flocked to his campaign. He had a telegenic wife and young kids. Rather than following the historic pattern of saying that he and his party were the right prescription to get the country moving again, he asked his nation to believe in itself once more, to build optimism into its future outlook, and to engage itself in a new kind of politics. And he won in a fashion that appeared to usher in a new age of collaboration and political accomplishment. No, this…

Budget 2016: A First Step

Posted on March 24, 2016

IN ONE OF THE FUNNIER EPISODES OF THIS MANIC BUDGET WEEK, host Ellen DeGeneres aired a segment showing Canada’s response to the threat of Americans moving up here to escape Donald Trump, titled, “We’re nice, but we’re not that nice.” You can view it here. The reality is that we might be even nicer at the moment. During an American election season revealing far deeper divisions in the electorate than many realized, this week’s federal budget couldn’t set a more different tone. It was breathtaking in its own way, covering everything from deep investment in Indigenous Peoples to seasonal Employment Insurance programs, from tackling nagging infrastructure shortfalls to invigorating benefits for children and seniors, from beginning to make right the abiding gaps in veteran’s care…

Can Canada Afford Its Dreams? Follow the Money

Posted on March 22, 2016

IT’S BUDGET DAY, AND ONGOING POLLING SPEAKS to significant amounts of support for the new Trudeau government. The new PM himself has hinted that he is prepared to help lead a reinvigorated progressive movement internationally. It’s still early days, but it’s difficult to deny that the initial impressions of Justin Trudeau internationally have been favourable. To be one of the leaders of global progress, however, Trudeau has to show that his ideas work at home, and on this particular budget day that will be a tall order. We’ll hear the usual spin from politicians, economists, media pundits, and interest groups on the budget’s effects. People will debate the size of the proposed deficit, the effectiveness of investment in infrastructure, and how Canada has to…

Keeping a Community’s Soul Intact

Posted on March 18, 2016

FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, LIBRARIES WERE LIKE CASTLES of private knowledge. Even then they contained thoughts and ideas that could be dangerous, forming part of the justification for invading armies to ransack and burn them to the ground. The reasoning was simple: destroy a culture’s collected memory and you can wipe out the culture itself. Except it didn’t work that way. Memories and acquired wisdom are dynamic things that, when called upon, still empower a citizenry even when their books are taken away. And almost immediately they begin building places of knowledge again. For that very reason libraries have to be permeable, fluid things. Civilizations ebb and flow, and as long as enlightenment and knowledge are essential to progress libraries will be found at the…

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