The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “accountability

Serious Elegance

Posted on June 2, 2016

You can read this post on National Newswatch here EVERYONE IN THE ROOM SENSED THAT PAUL MARTIN would be prime minister soon enough. There was an excitement in the air as my wife and I attended a London, Ontario event where Martin, as finance minister, was scheduled to speak on healthcare. His arrival was met with enthusiasm and he quickly warmed to his audience. Partway into his address a door closed at the rear of the hall and someone quietly entered. People whispered to one another, “It’s Jeffrey Simpson.” While the audience might have appreciated that one of the country’s best-known journalists would attend their event, the effect on Paul Martin was immediate. The finance minister is known as an engaging speaker, but his…

Election 2015: Citizens and Power

Posted on October 14, 2015

IT’S BECOMING CLEAR THAT THINGS ARE MOVING dynamically in this final week in the run-up to the election. Interest is growing. Voters are changing their minds. The media are having a field day. But on October 20, with the election done, everything settles back into that one great goal: the possession of power. A feeling develops in Ottawa that the winners have been legitimized by a process of voting that now gives them sway to carry out their own designs. It’s as if democracy is all about the vote and never about the four years following. There’s been much hoopla about the increase in advance voting as compared to the last election, and it is encouraging. As citizens we are coddled, prompted to dream,…

Election 2015: Please, Don’t Think

Posted on October 6, 2015

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES have become, once again, conspicuous in their absence at election debates. If any one word was used to describe democracy it is supposed to be “participation,” but this trend of avoiding the voters while at the same time asking to be their representative is a bit confounding. It would be similar to a teacher failing to show up for a parent interview, or a doctor avoiding a consultation. The government has already provided the script to all its candidates in case their absence is missing: “I am out canvassing and meeting constituents in their homes.” But there is no evidence whatsoever to prove that these absentees have visited any more homes than those of other parties who consistently show…

“Idiots” – Community Engagement Podcast (25)

Posted on August 8, 2013

If citizens check out of the political process, then it becomes increasingly easy for governments to do as they wish.  We all know that.  And yet, with voter turnout declining in most democracies around the world, the democratic estate is becoming increasingly ineffective.  There’s an ancient name for people who don’t wish to take up their societal responsibilities and until they do, then our challenges will only get greater in equal measure to our disillusionment.  We can solve such difficulties, but it will require a new kind of citizenship. Click on the audio button below to listen to the six-minute podcast.

Conscience and Cowardice

Posted on August 1, 2013

“Conscience and Cowardice,” said Oscar Wilde, emending Shakespeare, “are really the same things. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm.”  H. L. Mencken partially agreed, noting that nowhere in the English language is a term so rich in ironic ambiguities than “conscience”.  It seems to me that modern citizens are caught in the ongoing tension between these two realities.  It has been a simple thing of late to pile on politicians for “not living up to their conscience” or “behaving as cowards by not standing up for the constituents.”  Who can argue?  The party system gave up attempting to inspire us a long time ago, opting instead to try to steal our vote by hammering the other parties. But for the citizen these two terms…

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