Wednesday Night #826 End-of the-Year

Written by  //  December 31, 1997  //  Gerald Ratzer, Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

31 December 1997
Canadian Politics
Asked for comments on the local political scene, our resident MNA said he felt that people were tired of the separation and sovereignty debate. Due to the “Fatigue Factor” this item was not pursued!

Leadership
Given the sorry state of the political debate, the host suggested that lack of leadership was the root of the problem and asked the guests to name an outstanding example of a leader from this century.
Examples offered included Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Pierre Trudeau (Prime Minister – elected 20 April 1968, resigned 24 Feb ’84), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945, elected US President 1932), and Mahatma Gandhi. The role played by John F. Kennedy was important because he inspired a new, younger generation to take up public service. It must be admitted that Hitler and Stalin also possessed the qualities of leadership despite their abhorrent political and social philosophies.
Their contributions, merits and demerits were discussed. Important attributes were vision and the ability to motivate people to achieve their full potential, in many cases under very difficult circumstances. On the downside, Trudeau was blamed for his legacy to Canada of a national debt of $200 billion, totally generated during his term of office. This has since grown to over $600 billion because not even the interest has been paid over the last fifteen years. Ontario and Education
A visitor from Ontario was asked to comment on the changes in the provincial Educational Policy and the resulting teachers strike. The discussion focused on the poor performance of Ontario students in the three Rs that have led some parents to supplement the public education with extra (private) mathematics and literary skills training. Also recommended was a set of enforced educational standards. That is, students who do not pass set examinations are failed and forced to repeat the year until they do pass. The role of the Federal Government was debated. Is there a need to impose some national criteria? The visiting “Minister of Education” from Ontario was given a good counter argument from a teacher’s perspective.

The European Union
Question: Will the European Union, and in particular the Monetary Union, succeed?
Answer: While the euro may not be widely accepted in Europe and on international money exchanges initially, it is clear that future success for the EU depends on cooperation, especially in the trade area. Those that are slow to join in the EU initiatives (e.g. UK) will find themselves left behind. In the long run – ethnic, religious, social and political differences will have to be respected and accommodated as part of the greater trend to globalization.

Auld Lang Syne
As the New Year approached, those present thanked the Nicholsons for another stimulating evening and wished them many more in 1998. Following the traditional New Year exchanges of toasts, good wishes and embraces, the subject inevitably turned to the Millennium.

On that note, the celebration of Wednesday Night, December 31st ended without further taxing the participants!
Minuted by: Gerald Ratzer, Computer Science, McGill 

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