Wednesday Night #1056

Dear all,
Mouse is away to China on Tuesday the 28th, so will not be here to send her usual witty invitations, ergo this is to alert you to the subjects and special attractions of the next three Wednesdays.
Wednesday the 29th will be Money and Banking with Jacques Clément  – and no doubt some chatter about recent developments in Ottawa.
Wednesday the 5th of June we are delighted to have Terry and David Jones from Washington on their annual visit to check out the Montreal, Québec and Canadian scene. In their absence, we enjoy David’s perceptive commentaries in the Hill Times and Ehgloo, many of which you will find posted at Wednesday-Night.com/DavidJones.asp
Wednesday the 12th of June, Susan Eyton-Jones is bringing two good friends from New York, Beth and Shem Guibbory He is a violinist with the Metropolitan Opera and there will be more on both later.

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Report

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Geopolitics Writ Large
We live in strange times. Russia has become an associate member of NATO and will very likely ultimately join the European Union. While NATO membership involves considerable costs for limited benefits, membership in the European Union brings investment, trade and direct aid in economic and infrastructure development. Those Canadians who are old enough to be eligible to receive their old age pension, may well wonder how nations who were bitter enemies during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, leading up to two World Wars have not only formed a political union but a military alliance as well. Enmities that were once based on political, linguistic or religious differences, now appear to be based on petroleum producers versus petroleum consumers. Fortunately, it is not unusual for anachronisms to exist and the Balkans provide us with a rerun of political events. We would do well to recall that Greece and Turkey, both Balkan Nations, both members of NATO, were until recently on the brink of war off and on, until relatively recently.
NATO has intervened in the Balkans and is now involved in their rebuilding. While the European Union has contributed considerably to financing that project, Canada has wisely contributed technical and trade expertise at relatively little cost to ourselves. It is to be hoped that the transition to ultimately joining the European Community will be smooth and rapid, but there are signs that this will not be the case, that the road to relative peace and prosperity, while not taking as long a time as was the case with the European Union, may not be as smooth as we might have wished.

Slobodan Milosevic is currently being tried in the Hague for war crimes. The prosecution has unfortunately, made several tactical errors against a well-informed, legally well-educated, brilliant opponent. Among the tactical errors made was the prosecution of crimes in the reverse order in which they were allegedly committed. The current trial covers Kosovo, providing the least preparation time for the prosecution and the weakest evidence. Without anyone in the inner circle coming forward, the witnesses for the prosecution are not at all credible and cannot stand up to the brilliance of Milosevic’s cross-examination. He on the other hand will most likely be in a position to call very credible witnesses well-respected on the international scene, to support his case.
While there is little doubt that Milosevic will be found guilty and jailed, his performance at the Hague has increased his support at home. He has emerged as and remains, the most popular politician in Serbia. While Milosevic did not hesitate to use nationalism as a political tool, his political philosophy was pragmatism and opportunism. His successor, the current President of Serbia, continues to antagonize those nations with his nationalist stance delaying the rebuilding of Serbia. The Prime Minister on the other hand, is an excellent, born politician but cannot provide his country with what it needs most, namely statesmanship.

The Future of (the Balkans) is not certain. The European Union is trying to hold them together
If you don’t have a Byzantine mind, you will not understand the Balkans

Canadian economy
In the new economy, the news is bad, but in the old economy, the news is getting better
As reflected in the recent rise in the Canadian dollar, the Canadian economy is forging ahead. Unlike the situation in the United States, the Bank of Canada will report a very strong first quarter, followed by a strong second quarter, which will be reflected in reports of earnings in third and fourth quarter reports.

Alliance Québec
Alliance Québec continues to fight the inexplicable language legislation in Québec as a violation of human rights. While few would dispute the desire to maintain the viability of the French language here, it appears to some to be a case of overkill rather than a deliberate violation of human rights as compared for instance, with women’s rights legislation in Saudi Arabia. The law appears to offer different treatment to signs written in Chinese in Chinatown and to signs advertising cappucini, latti and pannini – all of which can be argued to be not French, but Italian words – than it does to signs written in English. It may be considered by some to be more anti-English than pro-French.
While the linguistic composition of the Québec civil service does not in any way reflect the linguistic composition of the population, Québec can hardly be described as a frightening place for Anglophones to live. Perhaps, a more likely explanation might be the propensity of the government of Québec to govern centrally, to control the means rather than the ends. It is probable that a clear statement of the objective, namely a Francophone face on Québec, with verification of the extent to which it has been achieved rather than the means to achieve it, would be less of an irritant. The current policy appears quite consistent with a government which demands decentralization at the federal level while insisting on tight control of both means and objectives at the local level.

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