Wednesday Night #1437

We know that you rely on us to keep you informed of key events and anniversaries, so are happy to point to the 65th anniversary of OCTAGON (11/12-16 September), otherwise known as the Second Quebec Conference a high level military conference held during World War II between the British, Canadian and American governments. The Encyclopedia Britannica notes: The decision made there to advance against Germany on two western fronts, instead of pursuing a concerted drive on Berlin, was criticized in the postwar period because it allowed the Soviet army to take possession of the German capital. This second Quebec Conference also resulted in a revised timetable to invade the Philippines, thus resulting in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944 and the subsequent struggle for Okinawa in late spring 1945.
Less known is the fact that on that occasion McGill conferred honorary degrees on PM Churchill and President Roosevelt.

Presumably during the Quebec Conference, the leaders were not besieged by a Moulin à Paroles, or any other commemoration of what would have been the 185th anniversary of the Battle of Quebec – which likely would have been discussed (if at all) as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Speaking of which, we enthusiastically recommend Desmond Morton’s Toronto Star piece, Quebec, 1759: Who’s missing from the script? – Most accounts of what happened on the Plains of Abraham leave out half the story and L’historien Yves Tremblay a parfaitement raison et je le félicite by Jacques Boudreau in Le Devoir (note that he cites Des Morton’s piece with approval).

It is good to know (maybe) that Quebec and Canada have time to dwell on the quite distant past – seemingly, the problems of today are not so critical that we need to completely abandon the ancient quarrels and name-calling that typically surrounded the 250th anniversary of the Battle.

However, now that that squabble is over, perhaps we should return to the pressing issues of the world economy, especially on the first anniversary of The Week Lehman Fell and the emperor’s lack of wardrobe became noticeable to even the least financially informed amongst us. President Obama marked the occasion with what the Independent called a ‘bruising’ speech It’s payback time, Obama tells banks while Judge Rakoff (great name!)  “issued a scathing ruling on one of the watershed moments of the financial crisis: the star-crossed takeover of Merrill Lynch by the now-struggling Bank of America.” However, the Times reminds us that “with the markets slowly healing, Mr. Obama’s plan to revamp financial rules faces a diminishing political imperative. Disenchantment by many Americans with big government, along with growing obstacles from financial industry lobbyists pressing Congress not to do anything drastic, have also helped to stall his proposals.” Therefore, we are not surprised to learn that Gordon Gekko character still resonates on Wall St The “strip and flip” corporate raider played by Michael Douglas will make his comeback in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street 2,” set in 2008 during the run-up to the financial meltdown with Gekko emerging from two decades behind bars.
AND we need to worry about the U.S.-China trade dispute

Parliament is back at work – or not, depending on your view. At least it gives our editorialists and talking heads fodder, if not food for thought. And the rest of us can debate whether we will have an election and is it a good idea? For the moment we are saved by the Bloc who have said that they will support the Conservatives’ budget motion this Friday. However, we should not be lulled – the first week of October is the next flash point. Note that our carefree PM is off to Washington to meet with the President and key members of Congress, thus avoiding the necessity of showing up at the Thursday dinner honoring Brian Mulroney; however Mrs Harper will be there along with lots of Conservatives, neo-Conservatives, Progressives, Regressives and Reformistas – all busy burying the hatchet (rather than knives in one another’s backs) – and Mr Harper will send a video greeting (not as nice as a Jackie Lawson card, but still).

This is also the week before the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh (24-25 September) where (Dow Jones) “headlines will likely focus on leaders rallying around the need to keep shoring up the global economy  and rewrite the rules of global finance. While there may be few signs of public discord, a drumbeat of criticism of the greenback and U.S. fiscal policy will provide a dramatic subplot to the summit.” Banks will be very much on the agenda. According to the WSJ , there will be agreement to “identify systemically important groups and … apply a higher capital charge to those cross-border banking groups,” … Patrick Pearson, the head of the European Commission’s banking and financial conglomerates division said the G20 leaders will also ask the Financial Stability Board to produce detailed plans in one year’s time on how best to regulate banks which are deemed too big to fail.

On the Environment and energy topic, we would be remiss if we did not call to your attention Oilsands emit more than entire countries: report
Alberta’s oilsands produce more greenhouse gas emissions than some European countries right now and will produce more than all of the world’s volcanoes in just 11 years if the pace of development continues, says a new report “Dirty: How the Tarsands Are Fuelling Global Climate Change”.
Meanwhile, John Evdokias informs us that Stikeman Elliott is hosting a breakfast mini-conference on “Canada’s Carbon Challenge: Successes, Obstacles and Opportunities” in Toronto on October 8. This is the first in a national series, so we may look forward to a session in Montreal.

Finally, because we always like to conclude with a intriguing item that you likely have missed; this from Cleo Paskal – it’s an oldie, but a goodie:
Missing Mexican island fuels mystery
Lawmakers in Mexico are trying to determine the whereabouts of island central to the country’s oil claims, which appears literally to have dropped off the map about 10 years ago. Bermeja island in the Gulf of Mexico — a strategic marker defining US and Mexican maritime and subsea rights — has disappeared along with documents backing up a bilateral treaty on major oil reserves in the area, fueling rumors of a CIA plot. Response from our Washington correspondents: “Of course the reality is that the island was a total fabrication, created by the Mexican national petroleum company to advance their seabed oil claims. (But it is much more adroit to blame the evil gringos to the north for stealing a nonexistent island–and maybe substantiating as a result their non existent claim–than learning to drill 8 miles under water as our oil companies have done.)” We are not so sure about the total fabrication. The Times Online says: It appears on maps as early as the 1500s and as late as 1941. Mexican Islands, a book published in 1946 by the country’s Institute of Geography, lists Bermeja’s coordinates; so do publications by the distinguished Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics. The longitude and latitude of Bermeja are given on Google Earth and in a CIA atlas. However, Mexican expeditions sent to the island in the past decade have been forced to return home without a glimpse of it. The BBC also is searching

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