Wednesday Night #1084

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“The season to be jolly”is fast approaching. For all you nay-sayers and scrooges, we have a not-exactly-seasonal celebration.
Our good friend, and one of Wednesday Night’s OWN, John Jonas, is home briefly from his year of guesting in Ghent. We not only celebrate his return, we celebrate his 70th birthday. Most of you are, however, excused from singing.
In view of John’s presence and proximity for purposes of consultation with his one and only OWN colleague, Peter Trent, The Order of Wednesday Night may have some announcements to make this week. The envelope, please …. Stay tuned.
A friend from the past, Deirdre McIlwraith, will be with us, bringing friends Blanche & Jean-Jacques Kean, former UN diplomats, who now live in Mexico.
And other guests from the past …
We thank David Mitchell who reminds us that, despite the assorted scandals and brouhahas that accompany the period before governments recess for the holidays, Canada remains a splendid place to live, bring up families and even be sick in (although we are not sure about its desirability as a place to pay taxes or own a gun).
Speaking of scandals and brouhahas, there are plenty of topics: KYOTO, Iraq, Venezuela, Indonesian independence movement (GAM), UAL in Chapter 11, Gun control, the results of the Quebec by-elections – what went wrong? -; Gore leading in New Hampshire according to a recent poll (get serious!); new economic team in U.S. – what does this mean?
So, come all ye faithful Wednesday Nighters and deck the halls with Boston Charlie….

Friday the 13th December
Heidi Hollinger Book Party
18:00 to 20:00+
Photo show
Russian Music
Wine & Cheese

The Report

On Wednesday evening, January 23, 2002, the inauguration of the Order of Wednesday Night (O.W.N.) was announced. O.W.N was established to recognize members who best personify the principles of Wednesday Night:- initiative, personal and intellectual integrity and who have made an important contribution to the collective wisdom of Wednesday Night and society as a whole. There was total support for naming Peter Trent, Westmount’s mayor -in-exile, the first recipient of this prestigious award. On September 18th, 2002 (Wed 1072) the award went to Dr. John J. Jonas our man of Steel On this Wednesday evening, December 11, 2002 the identities of the nominees for the Christmas 2002 Honours List were revealed as

The Markets
Despite, or perhaps due to a jittery economy with the expectation of a dismal fourth quarter, interest rates remain unchanged and are likely to remain so until the second half of 2003. Despite a very good Thanksgiving, chain department store sales were down 2% in November in the U.S. and are not expected to be better for the Christmas season. The strong U.S. dollar is likely responsible for the current economic situation but the maintenance of interest rates at their current level is considered the best insurance to leave enough leeway to kick-start the economy sufficiently rapidly, should the current low level of inflation slip into deflation.
Following the recent disillusionment with the stock market as a secure place in which to invest, there appears to have been a shift from stocks to real estate, ensuring a slow, difficult return to health for the stock market. There is some concern that in the current and forecast economic situation, George W. Bush may find it difficult to achieve re-election at the end of his current mandate.
As for Canada, the economy has been booming. The Canadian Dollar has begun to improve as have commodity prices including gold and metals. A sixty-four and a half cent Canadian dollar is predicted by the end of this month.
The fiscal year will end with a relatively modest four billion dollar surplus, of which three billion being retained for contingencies. Supplementary estimates were introduced in Parliament last week for five departments totalling 5.7 billion dollars, which may very well lead us back into deficit this fiscal year thus denying the expenditure of the sum of money recommended by Romanow for medicare. The economy remains strong however and with debt and hence interest payments down, there should be sufficient money over the next five or six years to pay for all proposed spending on social issues. In the second half of 2003, the expanding economy may well exceed its capacity, necessitating a tightening, perhaps up to ¾%. This year, with a growth rate of 3.7% we will outpace the G-7 in growth and for the fifth consecutive year, outperforming U.S.

Thanks to legislation already passed, Québec income tax will come down slightly as of January 1, 2003. This expected tax cut will necessitate an increase in the P.S.T.

Russia Under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, the Russian economy is growing, with the second largest rate of growth after China, largely due to an expanding trade surplus. Russia’s gross domestic product in U.S, dollars, was 43%, of Canada’s with growth estimated at 4% for this year (5% last year) versus Canada’s growth of 3½% and China’s 8%, but is doing fairly well at creating jobs, despite the continuing growing pains of the aftermath of communism and the poorly-controlled “Russian Mafia”, negating the original rush by Westerners to invest in that country. Foreigners continue to invest, however, but to do so, now requires dependable, honest Russian partners in order to be viable. Vladimir Putin is strong, intelligent and possesses a good sense of humour. He has been a stabilizing influence in post-communist Russia.

MUHC
As the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Glen Yards project limps along, the controversy remains over whether the money would be better spent on direct patient care.
The case for the new centre is clear, but issues around it are not. The oldest of the McGill hospitals is the Montreal General, housed in the most recent building, constructed in 1954. Being the first of the post-world war II hospitals built in Québec, possibly in Canada, it was conceived on a 1920 or 1930 model. In the transfer from the old Dorchester Street site, patients arrived in moving vans, each accompanied by a Nurse. A single dying patient remained at the old site because of the fear that she might die in transit. With the technology and medication developed over the past couple of decades, the very nature of treatment has been transformed, rendering this type of philosophy and procedure obsolete.
The nature of the construction accepted long waiting time for the transportation of goods, patients, employees and visitors at a time when salaries were very low and it was felt by employees and professional staff that the security of working in a caring community outweighed the salary deficiencies, but today, a building not conducive to the efficient transportation of patients, staff and supplies can prove very costly.
Because of the long patient stay at that time, medical Interns and Residents were able to follow patients over a relatively long period at various stages of disease. With modern technology and the sharp reduction of patient stay, it is difficult for this aspect of training to be maintained with the present facilities, because it is difficult to receive over any specific short period of time, the critical mass of patients at a single site that can offer the same type of on-hands training and variety of illness at various stages.
Finally, to attract the finest specialists on the continent to the McGill hospital treatment centres, adequate research facilities at or in close proximity to them, is essential.
For these reasons, the establishment of a combined university tertiary care treatment centre, readily accessible by road, rail, air and public transportation is essential in the 21st century. The Glen Yards venue is a viable option to meet these criteria.
There are two great areas of concern, the first being the escalating costs. Are we getting value for our investment? The second is, are we substituting a new expensive primary and secondary facility for those already extant, or are we adding to our health care facilities, a 21st century tertiary care facility, while maintaining adequate beds and personnel to meet the needs of those requiring care now provided by existing community or regional institutions.

QUOTES OF THE EVENING:
Real estate values have climbed at the expense of the stock market.
Love thy neighbour but don’t get caught
The fundamentals for the Canadian dollar have never been this strong
Jean Chrétien will be gone by June … If necessity is the mother of invention, hope is the father of prediction.

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