The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “citizenship

The Fight to Vote

Posted on June 9, 2018

It’s Election Day in Ontario and many remain as confused as ever as to the choice they must make.  Too many have said that they’re not heading to the ballot box this year because elections themselves no longer provide the outcomes people hope for.  There’s a lot of truth to this, and should be acknowledged. The problem is that, while elections increasingly frustrate us, there is as yet no clear alternative to someone heading into a private area, marking their choice, and then living with the result.  There are numerous ideas of how to rank ballots or prioritize them, but there is still no substitute for the act of a private citizen voting. Sometimes votes aren’t about choices at all, but a choice.  There…

It All Comes Down To Us

Posted on June 3, 2018

And, so, it has come down to us – citizens – just as it always has. An election isn’t just about winners and losers; it’s also a kind of scheduled checkup on the health of our democracy.  So far, the vital signs aren’t good. To be sure, there are indications that people remain committed to the political process and its importance to how we carve out our future together.  But not as many of them, and not nearly with the sense of confidence required to restore the optimism that was once part and parcel of our daily lives. Something about this particular provincial election is deeply unsettling.  It’s hardly a secret, as people all over the province express a deep sense of disquiet over the…

Putting the Social Back Into Social Media

Posted on April 10, 2018

Two weeks ago, many Londoners were asking whether the time had come to get off Facebook altogether. Individuals who have blithely used the platform for years were fearing for their privacy, security and politics. Yet the implications for communities are as insidious, and perhaps even more destructive, as for individuals. Victoria’s mayor, Lisa Helps, in a blog titled “Why I’m quitting Facebook,” decided the time had come for her because: “Facebook peddles in outrage . . . It has become a toxic echo chamber where people who have anything positive to say are often in defense mode against negativity and anger. Continuous reinforcement of existing beliefs tends to entrench those beliefs more deeply, while also making them more extreme and resistant to contrary facts.”…

Information Isn’t Knowledge

Posted on April 10, 2018

On a recent Freakonomics Radio podcast, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had to confess that he has struggled with the platform’s effect on democracy, politics and citizenship: “We’ve been focused on making the world more open and connected.  And I always thought that that would be enough to solve a lot of problems by itself.” Okay, to a point, that’s fair enough.  There was a lot of excitement at the launch of various social media platforms.  Political dysfunction seemed everywhere.  Citizenship appeared on the rise.  And the belief that we could solve our own problems was causing us to abandon institutions and history in favour of interaction, innovation and inclusion. But the problem has become just as Zuckerberg stated it on the podcast: “The world today…

Angering Our Democracy to Death

Posted on April 3, 2018

Every couple of years I make the journey out West to spend some time with my old high school friends.  We’ve all worked hard at maintaining that contact despite the fact that the twists and turns in our lives have occasionally left us on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to certain issues.  Most of our days are spent in talking, occasionally, debating, and in acknowledgment that the liberal-conservative distinctions in our temperaments could, in other conditions, create deep divisions among us. But they don’t because we carry some history together and thus have learned mutual respect.  One of them noted yesterday that it remains a wonderful thing that, despite the deep divisions in politics these days, we have nevertheless worked on…

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