The Parallel Parliament

by Glen Pearson

Tag: hopes

The Time for Tinkering is Over

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THE FEDERAL LIBERALS CAUCUSED IN LONDON this week and it was good to see some old friends. Justin Trudeau was struggling through a bout of food poisoning and his caucus was focusing on the one issue they believe will prove critical to the coming election: the economy.

I get it. Each party is talking about our struggling economy, hoping to leverage some advantage from it, one way or the other. But I wanted to ask my Liberal friends one question: will you stop tinkering this time? All parties have been doing so, but this occasion in London could represent a turning point within the party.

We all understand that each time we bounce back from some kind of recession, severe or light, that we never land back where we were. The unemployment rate continues to climb, as do the obstacles confronting the poor. On other occasions, all parties have focused on economic solutions but they never quite pulled it off. Yes, deficits were slayed, or, yes, trade was enhanced, but the growing disillusionment and worry among Canadians is inevitably creeping up to the levels found in the United States. People don’t really trust government to get things right anymore because, well, our problems have grown regardless of who was in power.

The real problem confronting the political order these days is not financial capital but social capital. Somewhere along the line, the political order lost touch with the mood of the people and now everything is about pursuing the vote of a relatively few number of people in order to gain power. We, as Canadians, understand that. But will you go back to the origins of our difficulties and repair them from their very source? There was a time when the corporate good transcended the public good and ever since then we have watched as wealth has been accumulated in record measures at the same time as less and less of it went to average Canadians.

In a very real and increasingly tragic way, Canadians have felt the withdrawal of institutional supports, both private and public. This has created a crisis in confidence that can’t be simply solved by an election. Forget talking about the lower, middle, or upper class; this is about the “anxious” class, and how the worry they feel about the future of their kids and a more dangerous world is far more serious than any political party’s electioneering. These people are struggling to preserve their standing, their sense of worth in an increasingly alienated culture. And now they have slowly begun pursuing individual survival over social solidarity. Signs of this are everywhere, but it’s important to acknowledge that the political and financial classes oversaw this development, and to merely give us the same-old, same-old, will only erode that reality further.

There used to be a time when individual identity and social identity crisscrossed repeatedly in Canada. In rural communities and big cities there was always the sense that this country was “under construction” and going somewhere. Now we have no idea where the politicos are taking us, and our confidence in the future and ourselves is eroding.

Liberals have always prided themselves as the party of balance. Okay, but our sense of equilibrium has been shot for some time now. All parties played a role in that disruption and we won’t get things right unless we go back to the origins of our difficulties. Why has the political class forced us to choose between trade and jobs, between comfortable houses and homelessness, between remaining in the middle-class or poverty, between meager governments or no governments at all? These are sincere questions that should be asked of all parties.

Even at the best of times in recent decades we have felt the tearing at the fabric of the Canadian identity. We have failed our aboriginal people seriously enough that we can’t even muster the strength or sense of social justice to launch a commission to locate the roughly 1,000 missing or murdered aboriginal women in this country. What is that about? Is this the vitality of our social consciousness these days? Must we watch as parties bludgeon themselves to a depraved degree and walk away with any sense of hope diminished?

You believe in balance, right? But can we all bring ourselves to acknowledge that we lost that tenuous tension that was Confederation years ago? The number of poor is growing. Good jobs are becoming scarce. Veterans are being denied. Seniors are fretting. And students can’t even afford to learn anymore. This is not the Canada we envision in our finest moments. So, enough with balance already; let’s get on with finding answers to these, our deepest problems.

In the U.S., Obama has opted to use the last two years of his tenure to attempt to bring about social and economic change. Yet there was a time when people thought he would start with such things, not end with them in a lame duck scenario. Enough with institutional cynicism; get on with the task of remaking the country on the basis of our progressive ideals and not some corporate ideology.

This is about the battle for the heart and soul, not of the Liberal Party, but of the country. The sweet spot isn’t the middle-class, but the aspirations of a good people. The time for tinkering is over; the time for renaissance has come.


I’ve Got a City in Me


This past weekend a great group of citizens got together with some of our new city council (they get inaugurated today) to hold Poets-n-Politics, where our new politicians, and a few others, presented poems about themselves and the city.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate, writing a special poem for the occasion.  A number have asked for copies and I told them it would be the subject of my next blog post.  So, as promised:


I’ve got a city in me, pushing me forward, setting me free,

It contains multitudes; I am not alone,
It houses my hopes and has become my home.
Yes, it pushes me outward, to a place uncertain,
And begs me join it, pulling back the curtain.

I’ve got a city in me, challenging my mind, framing my thoughts,

It enhances my insights, gives meaning to life,
And reminds me that tolerance is better than strife.
Yes, it makes me think, and challenges my mind,
But it crafts my thoughts and makes them refined.

I’ve got a city in me, lifting my eyes, to a place of shadows,

I see hundreds of others, for justice they stand,
Who reach to the margins, holding out their hand,
Yes, they bring love to this city, providing a new start,
And remind us all that great cities have heart.

I’ve got a city in me, growing new themes, changing it course,

By providing its leaders with a task that’s immense,
Who, in turn, look to us to help it make sense.
Yes, politics is hard, but it need not be,
If we play our part, and work as a team.

I’ve got a city in me, inwardly churning, moving upward,

With dreams of its own and a future unclear,
It looks to us all to build it right here.
Yes, I once thought we shaped this place ,
But now I see it has its own pace.

We have a city in us, waiting for release, let loose,

Requiring us all to look around, not just ahead,
Working with others with whom we must tread.
Yes, our city is changing, history stirs,
Like the phoenix it rises, more lofty than these words.

Yes, we have city within us, yearning and vibrant,

It’s our home, and, God, we know we all love it,
Not wanting to put ourselves above it,
Yes, this city is us; we know that to be true,
Let’s give it the best within us, me and you.

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