Wednesday Night #1838

Written by  //  May 31, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

While the Trump tsunami continues to assault our eyes and ears, Canada is contributing its own political drama to the headlines as a result of the squeaker election results in BC.
Following Monday’s announcement that The BC NDP and Greens had negotiated a deal that would allow an NDP minority government to survive a four-year term, and allow them to topple Premier Christy Clark’s fragile minority government at the earliest opportunity, Premier-for-the-moment Clark came out swinging. On Tuesday, she announced that she will recall the legislature early in June to see if she can get support to continue governing.
One of the key issues uniting the NDP and Greens is their shared opposition to resource projects such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline and Site C hydroelectric dam.The impact on Kinder Morgan’s shares was immediate; they slid as much as 7 per cent from their listed price of $17 as the company began trading on the TSE. Meanwhile, the PM has reconfirmed that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion should proceed – could lead to an unpleasant fed-Prov squabble.

On the subject of elections: the latest from Britain Theresa May election meltdown? Pollsters predict Tories to LOSE House of Commons majority
The YouGov prediction would leave Theresa May with 310 MPs – 20 fewer than at the time of dissolution of the last Parliament – while Labour are set to surge from 229 to 257 MPs on June 8 election, a gain of 28 seats in the Commons.The shocking scenario could leave Theresa May’s hand weakened ahead of Brexit negotiations – or see her ousted by an opposing coalition government.

Over the weekend – on the 13th ballot – the Conservatives elected their new leader:  former Speaker Andrew Scheer. Already labelled Harper 2.0 by some, he definitely has a more pleasing personality (and such cute dimples!) than Mr. Harper, but he has a tough road ahead, uniting the fractious factions of the party (including the followers of Brad Trost, Kelly Leitch et al.) and not all the pundits are enchanted. [See Canada’s Conservatives post 2015 Election] and we, of course are not thrilled with his ‘axe the CBC News’ policy

UPDATECBC’s projection of a win for the Liberals proved accurate, however the Nova Scotia election gave all the major parties something to celebrate. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has his second majority. Throughout the dying days of the election campaign, Liberal organizers — and McNeil — said they believed the party was on track to win a second majority government. But … it wasn’t until almost 1 a.m. AT that the Grits officially had the numbers they needed.

We have already expressed our views on the $40 million illumination extravaganza of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, but Ontario has outdone us by funding bringing the world’s largest rubber duckie to Canada. At least that’s funnier than some of the items on the assorted celebrations of the 150th.

Quebec’s brief respite from construction work is over, as the government has passed back-to-work legislation ending the nearly week-long strike. The legislation maintains current working conditions for the province’s 175,000 construction workers and grants them a pay raise of 1.8 per cent. They had been asking for a 2.6 per cent raise; the employers were offering 1.6 per cent. The law also triggers an immediate five-month mediation period to allow labour unions and construction companies to hammer out a new collective agreement, after which they will be required to enter into binding arbitration.
The latest item about Montreal’s never-ending construction is too funny not to share Une nouvelle couche d’asphalte contourne une voiture sur René-Lévesque – You MUST follow the link and view the photo!

Inevitably, all roads lead to Trump. What to say about his first trip overseas? After his cozy visit to the Middle East, and somewhat less warm and fuzzy encounter with Pope Francis, his NATO and G7 appearances, Mr. Trump declared the trip to have been a ‘home run’ – others were not so sure. But his return to Washington cannot be much fun, no matter how often he dismisses reports of ‘fake news’, the Russia connection story will not go away and is now focusing on the omnipresent Jared Kushner; all of this as the Trump administration must also deal with a potentially volatile Congress to push its plans for health care, tax reform, and major budget cuts. And a few foreign policy challenges: notably North Korea and China [North Korea is helping China in the South China Sea—whether it knows it or not].

NOTE: The Thursday, June 1 morning (9h00 – 12h00) session of Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific is devoted to Implications of developments in the East and South China Seas
Guest lecture by Dr. Zack Cooper, Fellow with the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Dr. Cooper focuses on Asian security issues and works closely with the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. Prior to joining CSIS, Dr. Cooper worked as a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and served on the White House staff as assistant to the deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. He also worked at the Pentagon as a special assistant to the principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy. Dr. Cooper will speak about the rapidly evolving security and diplomatic situation in the East and South China Seas.

There is a potential shakeup brewing in the White House has already started with the resignation of communications director Mike Dubke at a pretty critical time, given the barrage of explosive news reports, the Russia investigations and mounting congressional criticism. One ray of hope for the Trump team is the potential conflict between the various investigations; Politico reports that Mueller’s appointment complicates Congress’ Russia investigations.

As this Wednesday will be Tony Deutsch‘s last appearance before he disappears to his bucolic summer retreat, there will certainly be discussion of the economy, including the Trump budget and Why There Is No ‘Trump Slump’ on Wall Street
We also look forward to hearing his observations from his recent trip to Hungary and he will no doubt have comments about the Central European University, founded by George Soros. (Hungary seeks talks with New York state on status of Soros-founded university)

With the breaking news of the bomb in Kabul that has killed some 80 people -mostly civilians- we have been struck once again by the selectiveness of media focus on terrorism. While the coverage of the Manchester attack has been massive, the public and media seem to have lost interest in the equally dreadful attack in Egypt, claimed by ISIS, on the Coptic Christians in which 29 died – many of them, as in Manchester, were children. But we continue to value ‘western’ lives over those of others.

A couple of thoughtful pieces for your consideration:
Civil Discourse in Decline: Where Does It End?
The shift away from politeness, decorum and respect is real—and its consequences visible every day
Trump Is No Realist
In his speech in Riyadh, President Trump said his administration was adopting “Principled Realism”—capitalized in the official White House version of the speech, as if to make a statement that there is a distinct doctrine being followed, one worthy of the term realism.

Congratulations to Kyle Matthews and Concordia’s Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) along with Amnesty International Canada, the United Committee of Armenian Organizations in Quebec and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights on the success of  Rights City/Montréal, ville des droits humains!
No time to rest on those laurels. Kyle and Céline Cooper, along with Guillaume Lavoie and Ion Valaskakis  are key members of the Host Committee of Next City Vanguard Montreal 2017 – From May 31 to June 3, 2017, more than 45 young urban thought leaders are coming to Montreal as part of the Next City Vanguard Conference – a first for the city and for Canada.
On Friday, June 2, the conference will close with the Big Idea Challenge. Hosted by Andy Nulman, co-founder of Just for Laughs and CEO of Play the Future, it is a competition that will provide an opportunity for the Vanguards to leave a lasting impact on Montreal as conference’s host city.
Challenge teams will be made up of Vanguards and representatives of local community organizations who will work over the course of the conference to co-design a solution for a problem faced by the team’s community partner. Event is open to the public and free, but pre-registration is required.

 

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