Wednesday Night #1617
Warmest congratulations to John Jonas and Margo Somerville who added the Queen’s Jubilee Medal to their respective, impressive collections of honours at a ceremony at McGill on the 18th.
On Saturday afternoon, David was one of the 30 recipients who were presented with the Medal by Marc Garneau at a gracious and very well organized ceremony at Victoria Hall. The recipients were all quite remarkable but largely unsung heroes/heroines outside their respective communities or organizations and very representative of the diversity of the Westmount-Ville-Marie riding. It was an honour to be included in their company. Marc Garneau had appointed an independent committee to review the more than 125 nominations and do what must have been very difficult triage. As each recipient’s name was called out s/he was escorted by a young cadet (they were all adorable!) to the podium while our friend Victor Drury read out the citations and Marc pinned on the medal, shook hands, had pictures taken, etc. The Hall was awash in Canadian flags and very colourful. It was a great event and we wish that everyone could have been there to share it. As Rob Galbraith was the official photographer, we are looking forward to some great pictures. Meantime, please see the post for the crowd shot taken by Jean Proulx of Marc’s office.
The Oscars: critics seem to agree that the show was one of the worst, and that Seth MacFarlane was a disaster. The interminable rehashing in all the media will soon be over – please God – and everyone can rush out and see the films they missed. Other than that, a good time was had by all and there was a fairly even distribution of the statuettes among the top films, with some surprise expressed that Life of Pi came away with four. Argo, predictably (it had all the right ingredients), was named Best Picture and now perhaps the Canadian whining about its inaccuracies will be put to bed. Of some consolation to afore-mentioned whiners are the gracious words of former president Jimmy Carter backed up by the comment of Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker.
For lovers of real melodrama, the gridlock of the Italian elections beats Hollywood hands down. It seems highly appropriate that the Five Star Movement (M5S), led by ex-comedian, Beppe Grillo should hold the balance of power. Signor Bunga Bunga has made an incredible comeback by promising all the wrong things to the electorate and looks likely to have a majority in the Senate, while the Chamber of Deputies is in the hands of Pier Luigi Bersani’s left-of-center party. The news, as the Guardian puts it, has sent shivers through the Eurozone and Monday’s market reacted accordingly(Wall Street trips and falls on cloudy Italian election).
Another potential movie script lies in the ongoing tale of China’s cyber hackers who, according to the Washington Post have indiscriminately hacked just about every organization in Washington, including law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies. Washington is not alone, it appears that Germany is also having problems. Canada, too has had ‘incidents’ – in September 2012, Calgary-based Telvent advised its customers that hackers had managed to penetrate the computers at both the high-tech firm and many of its clients, including huge energy companies and public utilities across North America. But apparently, the federal Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre didn’t get the news for 10 days. Obviously the world needs a group of scruffy good-guy hackers (think Sneakers) to infiltrate and disable the evil Unit 61398 of the PLA.
Bravo to South Korea whose first female president, Park Geun-hye, took office on Monday. We wish her well in an already-demanding job (a lack of jobs, a growing gap between rich and poor and a stagnant economy) that is complicated by the menacing presence of the Hermit Kingdom. She appears undaunted; in her inaugural address she called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. We look forward to Julia Deutsch’s impressions when she returns from her trip to South Korea.
Things are suspiciously quiet in Ottawa. It appears that everyone is taken up with the sad tale of the Homeless Senator from PEI (Mike Duffy struggles with the confusing question, ‘where do you live?’ ) – another promising Hollywood script. But this is not likely to deflect the EI story. Initially Human Resources Minister Diane Finley flatly denied reports that EI investigators have been given monthly dollar quotas, but now she admits that “there are performance objectives in place.” Another wondrous example of political hair splitting. Expect a Canadian sequel to Django Unbound – the story of a Canadian EI bounty hunter.
The Liberal Leadership contenders are down to eight with George Takach’s withdrawal; given his previous remarks about Marc Garneau and Joyce Murray it’s not surprising that he has thrown his support to Justin.
Hardly in the category of Goodbye Mr. Chips or Dead Poets’ Society, but we have finally arrived at the Quebec Summit on post-secondary education and Mme Marois is proposing to index university tuition by three per cent a year – so much for her pre-election promises. Reports are that Monday’s session was calm and civil. It would be nice if at least one initiative of the current government were to look as though adults were in charge [Editor's note: we spoke/wrote too soon; on Tuesday, things got out of hand] because Pastagate is expanding as other Montreal restaurants go public with their experiences with the OQLF’s not-so intrepid inspectors, each account more laughable (except that this is far from funny) than the last. Still Rex Murphy has had a go at Language and Linguine Sadly, the news has spread far and wide, even the London Times carried an article about Buonanotte. Rex Murphy took on the issue with his entertaining – and as always erudite Language and Linguine, while the National Post picked up on our movie theme with the brilliant Sam Spade spoof Dear Diary: ‘We busted right in through the front door with our dictionaries drawn’
Beryl Wajsman continues his relentless critique of Bill 14. People should read the Bill. And understand that evil is possible here. The bill is not about language. It is a venal attempt by a government that has had to back away from almost all its promises to keep its `”pur et dur” in line through the politics of demonization, nullification and interposition. For those who are not familiar with its provisions, he lays out the major provisions in easily understood language in this Face Book post
Wednesday Night has devoted much thought to the Education debate and we encourage you to browse through the posts on the topic. Meanwhile, one of the most intelligent commentaries we have read is Clifton van der Linden’s Quebec’s tuition summit sidesteps a generational crisis – An emphasis on the cost of post-secondary education makes for an effective rally cry, but ultimately overlooks more substantive considerations about the value of said education in the twenty-first century. Quebeckers in particular ought by now to be able to recognize a superficial concession when they see one. They should take full advantage of this opportunity to prompt a broader, national conversation about the future prosperity of Canadians. It is a conversation that is long overdue.
In the wonders-of-science category comes the news that a group of international scientists have found evidence that an ancient, lost continent may be buried beneath the Indian Ocean floor. The findings have just been published in Nature Geoscience A Precambrian microcontinent in the Indian Ocean. There are years of further investigation ahead, but it is always fascinating to learn more about the early configurations of Planet Earth.