Wednesday Night#1244

Introduction:
We were somewhat disappointed that almost nobody wanted to play our game of the 12 questions for 2006 and the few who did respond were highly skeptical of the one on Iran.
We would like to point out that this was not a frivolous query in light of recent developments. As the Economist puts it: “Eliciting international criticism, Iran this week said it will resume nuclear research, perhaps on January 9th. America and others say the Islamic country is developing a covert nuclear weapons programme and the UN’s nuclear watchdog is growing increasingly exasperated. Iran’s fiery president seems set on confrontation that will provoke diplomatic sanctions, or worse”. This seems to us a more than adequate provocation for a U.S. invasion before the Congressional elections.

Musings
Quite apart from serving as a source of amusement and entertainment for young children, perceptive adults can relate to the similarities between the confined animals (or for that matter, lobsters in a pot) and themselves; the more receptive the adult, the more apt the metaphor. In the wilds, food and water were not always readily available and life was dangerous and precarious, yet adaptation to a safe life of constraint and dependence proves to be a mixed blessing. For those animals born in captivity, a life of cradle to grave care would more than compensate for the risks entailed in the wilds, were that possible.

Canadian politics
On a totally unrelated topic, Canada can boast of a superior lifestyle, acceptance of diverse cultures and languages, a balanced budget and decreasing debt, a good social safety net, placing us in an enviable situation vis-à-vis the G-7 or G8 countries or, for that matter, the world.
[Editor’s note: there is a nagging not-so-little problem, however, as pointed out in a CanWest article in Thursday’s Gazette: “Canada really does have a problem with productivity. There are different ways to measure productivity, but arguably the best is what economists call “multi-factor productivity.” And, on that score, there’s reason to worry: In the decade before 2001, Canada placed 14th out of 16 countries measured by the OECD.”]
We are wealthier, healthier and live longer (on average 30 years more than 100 years ago) than ever. Surprisingly for many, we also live safer. We have fabulous resources and yet there is a pervasive feeling that Canada is myopic, that debates have not changed for 15 years and, essentially, the country is not important on the world stage. Canada is currently facing a national election and Canadians are not only misinformed about their current status by both politicians and establishment media, but are being bribed segmentally with their own money in an attempt to obtain votes for the party which has the most to gain from a given segment of the population.
Despite the list of promises of social reforms by all parties, though perhaps well-intended and/or motivated by the season in which the spirit of giving is so prominent, it is to be hoped that deeper issues will motivate the voter. It is also to be hoped that the fate of our cherished if not fully appreciated, heritage will not be determined by those so turned off by the process that they do not vote.

Immigration
The promise of the elimination of a head tax on immigrants has merit and should have been done a long time ago had any political party recognized the importance of this issue before the immigrant party loyalty issue became important.
Though there is a great need for qualified professionals such as Physicians and Engineers, and our health care system is desperately short of healthcare professionals, it is unlikely that any elected government would be tough enough to force the professional bodies to permit qualified foreign professionals to work.
[Editor’s note: Stephen Harper says a Conservative government would extend a full apology for the Chinese head tax, ease citizenship rules for children adopted abroad, and slash the long-hated landing fee of $975 imposed on immigrants … the Conservative leader also vowed yesterday to attempt to make it easier for immigrants to have their foreign credentials and experience recognized in Canada.]

China versus India
The story of China’s industrialization is not news, yet it is believed by some Wednesday Nighters that China is about a quarter century behind India in that area, principally due to the political heritage of the two countries. Both have a reliable, competent workforce and a well-educated population, but India has the advantage of having had a history of British rule, perhaps a mixed blessing, and can boast of a sophisticated civil service, judiciary and legal system, reasonable infrastructure and the fact that it opened its markets to foreign investors some 25 years ago. Investing in the two countries is a totally different exercise; in China it is the municipalities who will be your financial partners. One Wednesday Nighter highly recommends China, Inc. : How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World ,by Ted C. Fishman.

Estate taxes
Many if not most members of the aging Canadian population, probably the most affluent in out history, believe that they will leave the bulk of their life savings to their children or heirs, fully realizing that the Government of Canada is a very important member of that group. Although the estate left to one’s spouse is tax free, it becomes taxed at half the normal tax rate, or about 24% on the second transmission.

Radio, the long-lasting treasure
In the 1920’s movies were black and white and silent and radio was local. At one point, national (and international) programs were broadcast locally “through the medium of electrical transcription,” in other words on vinyl discs, shipped to participating radio stations throughout the continent. In 1939 at the New York World’s Fair, there was a barely visible image on a tiny cathode tube that emanated from the adjacent room. This was destined to become the great medium of television, which was supposedly destined to eliminate the cinema and certainly, radio, especially after the introduction of colour. It didn’t and radio is still thriving today. It is the most immediate and personal medium, listened to by people in their cars and for background music. News is heard first on radio. It seems that that medium which was supposed to be the first casualty of sound and picture transmission, lives on and prospers, albeit through various incarnations such as AM, FM and Satellite, while, in the audiovisual field, the much-heralded VCR tape faces an unheralded demise in the near future. Radio’s secret is that throughout its evolution, it has remained local, a valuable member of the community in which it operates.
Beryl speaks
In the best traditions of community radio, Radio 940 AM has invited Beryl Wajsman to host a special series of talk shows on Sundays from noon to two. Beryl assures us (unnecessarily) that: “It will not be ordinary talk radio. 940 AM has taken the bold initiative of allowing us to bring public advocacy to the airwaves …We will bring on air many of the most compelling personalities you will hear anywhere. But not just to pontificate. These guests are among the most effective social activists and guardians of the public interest in the country. They will bring to bear their experience and assets to guide, advise and intercede on behalf of the real needs of real people.” Stay tuned!

Sharon and Israel
The long, painful process of moving the Israelis and Palestinians closer to peace appears to have been cruelly shattered with the rising popularity of Hamas in Palestine and Hawk-turned-Dove, Sharon, gravely ill. If, as it appears at this point, Netanyahu wins the upcoming Israeli election, peace in that region, if not in the world, is in grave danger.
[Editor’s note: For a good analysis of the major Israeli players see: Which way now for Israel after Ariel Sharon?] see also on-going BBC coverage]

Quotes from the evening’s rants
Perhaps our politicians are duping us just as much as the news media
Charest has no economic policy – 14 major international syndicates have pulled out of Quebec since he was elected
there are no partners, no money and 40,000 jobs at stake
Media don’t analyze what politicians say

Let’s not forget that the best speech given at the 1968 Liberal Convention was delivered by J.J. Greene
The media can be accused of whipping up the storm
Is any country not ruled by self-serving politicians?
The great national practice in this country is falling over ourselves. Everything they do in the U.S. (
according to the Americans) is right. Canada should acquire some of the self-confidence (evident) in the States. Canada is still one of the better places to live
Canada is a two-bit player
We talk, we never decide anything. The Americans are reacting

(The problem with our politicians is that) the buck does not stop here. It stops somewhere else … Maybe we should think about a presidential system
It’s not the political system but the cultural system that holds us back
We’re under
the world stage
Voice radio was invented by
Reginald Fessenden a Quebecker from Knowlton [Editor’s note: if you don’t believe it, check it out]

The Prologue

Once again, we extend our best wishes to you for a happy, healthy, successful and altogether brilliant New Year.
As we embark on the annual voyage into the unknown of the next 12 months, it is normal to make predictions about almost anything, however, we were entertained by Henry Aubin’s column in the December 31 Gazette titled “A dozen questions for the new year“.
He asks, for instance:
Will the English-speaking community finally get a moderate, credible voice to defend its interests?
Will the Shriners Hospital finally get fed up with the uncertainty facing … the Children’s?
Will movie buffs be stuck with three competing – and weak – film festivals?
Will Premier Jean Charest approve Loto-Québec’s plan to move the casino to Point St. Charles?
Will Bombardier Inc. at last … [be able] to justify the launch … of the CSeries?
You will note these are all related to local issues, but we invite you to submit 12 – or less if you feel so inclined – questions on any local, national or international topic to which you really, really want an answer, along with what you think the answer will be.
For starters we might suggest the following:
Will the European countries find a successful approach to integrating their Muslim communities and slowing down the growth of the jihadists?
Will a combination of Jack Abramoff’s revelations, the lack of presidential leadership in the aftermath of Katrina and the growing disenchantment of Americans with the situation in Iraq bring about major changes in the Congressional elections, and
Will the U.S. invade Iran before the Congressional elections?
If there is no Climate Change when will someone explain what is going on?
Will China finally liberalize its exchange rate? With what results?
Will UN reform efforts take effect and will they be effective?
Will Avian Influenza continue to spread or will there be a new pandemic panic in the coming year?
Will the world’s crude oil supply reach Hubbert’s Peak?
Has it already? How will we know?
How many more celebrity spokesbabes (male and female) will crop up in 2006 on behalf of causes? The Year of Charitainment Celebrity do-gooderism was in fashion. But do we need stars to be our guides?
Will Conrad Black‘s preparations for his 2007 court date be as newsworthy as his activities this year?
Will Canada’s federal elections change anything?
Will the Québec government EVER develop a sensible policy (preferably as little policy as possible) on Healthcare and how and where our doctors may practice??
Please join us for an evening of Q&A.

 

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