The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts from the “Liberalism” Category

A Moment Gone

Posted on November 22, 2017

It was 54 years ago today that the news emerged from the speaker in my Grade 7 class in Calgary that American president John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed. School was promptly cancelled, leaving us all to head home in a kind of stunned silence, only to see our devastated parents huddled around the television. What we didn’t realize then, as Canadians, was that something more significant passed away than one mere political leader. So much has been written concerning Kennedy’s abilities, flaws and influence that we are left with the impression that his charisma and youth are what shaped his times. They weren’t – impressive as they were. In reality, he had a disastrous first year (Bay of Pigs, his degrading…

Payette’s Appointment Breaks New Ground – Again

Posted on July 19, 2017

As appointments go, the choice of Julie Payette as Canada’s new Governor General was figuratively out of this world. The former astronaut had completed two missions to the space station and spent seven years as the Canadian Space Agency’s chief astronaut. But her qualifications were far more wide ranging: speaking six languages, commercial pilot, a computer engineer, and active participant in numerous social causes. Yet there was one key component to add to the appeal of the 53-year old from Montreal and it was pivotal: Payette perfectly fit Canada’s present view of itself. The almost universal testimonials to her appointment were proof enough of that reality and the celebrations prompted by the announcement spoke to our own collective view of present-day Canada in the…

The Process of Becoming

Posted on July 3, 2017

This post can be found in its original London Free Press format here. “I suppose that a Canadian is someone who has a logical reason to think he is one,” wrote Mavis Gallant in 1981, to which she added a personal note: “My logical reason is that I have never been anything else, nor has it occurred to me that I might be.” As we celebrate our country’s 150th birthday today, it’s likely that, in a world full of turmoil and identity crises, millions of Canadians will move through the day in the spirit of Gallant – peaceful, quietly thankful and usually pleasant. It’s odd that this placid reason for being has survived the tumults of the modern era. Identity struggles are epic across the…

Democracy in a Box

Posted on May 24, 2017

Those of us in the affluent West hold to the belief that certain political realities remain sacrosanct. Rule of law, political representation, will of the people, elections, civic duty – these have become so entrenched in our thoughts that we believe them immutable. And situated at the peak is that one great word that encompasses them all – democracy. For all its many flaws, it remains our preferred method of government. The problem is that none of that is certain anymore, as the decades have introduced complexities that confound even the most stable governments. When Alan Moore, in his V is for Vendetta, wrote that, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people,” it was assumed that only…

History’s Revenge

Posted on January 31, 2017

  It all seems so long ago, yet in reality it was less than 30 years since that remarkable time in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down and democracy and capitalism appeared poised to launch the world into a new, more equitable era. My wife, Jane, was there and wrote Lincoln’s famous words on the wall: “… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”   British journalist Timothy Garton Ash famously called those remarkable few days “the greatest street party in the history of the world.” Almost two million East Germans crossed over to the West in the next few days. Communist…

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