Wednesday Night #1496

Written by  //  November 3, 2010  //  Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Politics is a branch of show business

U.S. mid-term elections
The United States, in some ways is the election bellwether. Around the world there is a crisis due to the inability of governments, even including China and North Korea, to deliver on promises. Unrest appears rampant. The current recession, the inability of governments to fulfill promises, rising national debt, rising unemployment and widening gap between the wealthy and the poor, have all contributed to the dissatisfaction. If further proof were needed, a closer examination of the Tea Party’s ideology reveals that it appears to be nonexistent, or at best incompatible with traditional conservative philosophy. This is a cyclical phenomenon magnified by the ubiquity of the media and very likely, 2012 will witness the re-election of Barak Obama as President and a Democrat majority House unless the Republicans can come up with a credible candidate, an unlikely scenario. The widening gap between the wealthy and the poor increasingly becomes the wild card. The median salary of the middle class is said to have been in steady decline since 1974.
Although U.S. Senators are elected for a six-year term, providing a measure of stability in government, the relatively short interval between national and mid-term Congressional and State elections favours heroic, at times inappropriate legislation over long-term planning. (In California, a sitting Governor can be recalled by referendum.) The short interval can sometimes result in popularity trumping logic or the illogical favouring of electoral ridings in order to gain votes. Equally, however, too long an interval can be disastrous. The current Hungarian government, judged by many as incompetent, was elected last year for a fifteen-year term. Recent events, more particularly support for the recent Chinese Nobel Laureate, would indicate that even in China, where the lifespan of the ruling party is infinite, there can be a shift in satisfaction based, perhaps, as much or more on personal sentiment than on national policy. Last minute heroics during an election campaign can sometimes have a greater effect than political philosophy. A cynic might describe democracy as the least worst form of government.

Potash
In any election, municipal, state or provincial, or national, the implementation of popular measures, by definition, pleases the electorate, or at least a significant portion of the electorate and enhances the probability of re-election. If this is so, it explains an otherwise inexplicable unique bias against foreign ownership of the Saskatchewan potash deposits while permitting free foreign ownership of the Alberta tar sands. Both are resources of finite size. Although the potash deposits are sizeable and Canada has a major portion of the world deposit, potash is essential in the production of agricultural fertilizer and a constantly shrinking agricultural area simultaneous with the continuing rate of human growth will cause the agricultural sector to become increasingly important. Some see the potash mining by foreign companies as contrary to national interest, while others raise the logical question as to whether Canadians really believe in free trade, or pay tribute to it while acting in self-interest. They point to necessary control being exercised through taxes and other revenue but if under foreign control, cannot guarantee continuing priority of supply to Canadians. The reverse argument maintains that international investment represents true free trade and free of national fetters, benefits national and international well being.
Wednesday Nighters favouring Canadian ownership question why potash was exceptional and whether the decision was logical. It is simply mined and sold without requiring specialized expertise, whereas the sale of other resource companies with a technical component have resulted in the loss of research facilities and jobs in this country. They question the motivation of the current government in blocking the sale. The purist free traders point to the high consumer cost of a gamut of government controlled products and services in Canada relative to that in Europe, ranging from dairy products to electronic communications. The cost of cheese is said to be four to five times as high in Canada as it is in Europe, telephony and Internet even significantly more so, presumably because of national protectionism.

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The Prologue

WELCOME TO WEDNESDAY NIGHT 2.0
OUR NEW HOME IMPOSES A FEW NEW PARAMETERS AS WE ADJUST TO SOMEWHAT MORE INTIMATE SURROUNDINGS. THUS, A RETURN TO A STRICT BY-INVITATION-ONLY POLICY.

WN 2.0 WILL BE CHARACTERIZED BY SMALLER GROUPS OF ATTENDEES AND MORE FOCUSED DISCUSSIONS. IN THE WONDERFUL EXPRESSION OF A SLIGHTLY FLUSTERED GARDEN CLUB PRESIDENT “ALMOST EVERYBODY NEVER COMES ALWAYS” – IN OTHER WORDS, WE WON’T BE ABLE TO ACCOMMODATE IMPROMPTU APPEARANCES  – WHICH IS NOT TO SAY THAT WE WILL NOT RELISH THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW FRIENDS OF FRIENDS, BUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE WITH A MODICUM OF WARNING, PLEASE.

ALTHOUGH WE ARE BLESSED WITH QUITE GENEROUS SPACE, WE WILL NEED CONFIRMATION FROM YOU, AS THERE MAY BE STAND-BYS WHO ONLY GET A SEAT IF YOU DON’T COME.

With those caveats, we had planned to have  Colin Doylend of Rain City Strategies as a special guest for the inaugural Wednesday Night at our new home  He had been introduced to us by Alexandra T. Greenhill, the founding Chair of the West Wing of Wednesday Night, and was in Montreal to attend the Canadian Wind Energy Association Conference. Unfortunately, he returned to Vancouver earlier than expected. [HE DID NOT SHOW]

Aside from Colin’s areas of interest, which we are informed include a passion for new and innovative projects that involve First Nations, clean technology and social ventures, we certainly will not ignore the results of Tuesday’s mid-term elections  (and some may have views on the Rally to Restore Sanity)

We plan to look at the import of the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 10) and its 11th-hour acceptance of the Nagoya Protocol, which brings us inevitably to Kimon Valaskakis’ theme of global governance and the failure of the UN as a model.

Not directly related, but definitely constants on WN’s agenda are the issues of Potash Corp., the latest news on the wrangle over responsibility for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and, an irresistible comment on the news that  Canada’s embassy spending soars  [by 430%] when media reported previously that the Harper government was too broke [or stingy] to pay for canapés.

We hope very much that you can be with us. As there will be down time for our computers during the move on November 1, please either e-mail before 3PM Sunday Oct. 31, or telephone us on Nov. 2nd (the phone number is being transferred on November 1, but no promises as to when it will be functional) to let us know if you will be with us.

The phone number remains the same. We can’t guarantee the usual smoothly functioning Wednesday Night, but the welcome will be warm, the table will be in place and the candles will be lit – plus, we even have a working fireplace!

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