Wednesday Night #1658

Written by  //  December 11, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Merry Christmas from Canada Post
Canada Post to phase out urban home mail delivery

Of course we are saturated with the news from South Africa and everyone has his/her favorite tribute or story. We have posted many on a page devoted to Nelson Mandela however would call three items to your attention.
The first would be  Tony Karon’s Three Myths about Mandela Worth Busting and the second would be the thoughts provoked by the unprecedented presence of the former prime ministers in the Canadian delegation: Prime ministers’ club would be good for Canada, experts say
“Unlike our neighbours to the south and Commonwealth compatriots such as Britain and Australia, Canada has a curious lack of an unofficial “prime ministers’ club,” and it’s to the detriment of the entire nation that we haven’t established the tradition …”
Finally, there is the decision by Mr. Netanyahu not to go to the funeral ceremonies as a cost-cutting measure. Haaretz is outraged and it does indeed appear to be – at best – a singularly clumsy move.
With the coverage of Madiba’s death, a number of other matters have been temporarily shunted off the front pages .

The situation in Ukraine seems to be going from bad to worse.

No sooner had the WTO reached ‘historic’ trade deal in Bali last week than international trade ministers of 12 countries jetted to Singapore to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.  Thanks to the recent WikiLeaks revelations, the negotiations in Singapore are creating considerable unease as evidenced by this piece in the Huffington Post , Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership May Undermine Public Health, Environment, Internet All At Once  Concerns range from the secrecy with which the negotiations are being conducted to specific elements such as global intellectual property rights, labour rights and financial regulation.  These questions have been raised by many concerned Canadians as well. Others think this is a necessary step in liberalizing trade.  We await the wisdom of Wednesday Nighters.

For those, like us, who have been following events in the East China Sea, Ian Bremmer’s geopolitical analysis for Reuters  China’s air zone announcement was just the beginning , is an excellent albeit far from encouraging read, e.g. The air zone declaration and its aftermath make it clear that China intends for its security position to win out in the East China Sea, and expects it to be a faster process, given the shift of the regional security and economic power balance in its favor.

Although not on the  topic of his talk, perhaps Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman will comment on some of these matters at Tuesday’s CIC event  where we hope to see you. [Update: the talk was riveting, but no opportunity to raise these unrelated questions.]

And on the topic of China, Cleo forwarded this item China Downplays English-Language Education With Series of Reforms  with a cheeky comment that “someone’s been talking to the PQ”.

Speaking of which, congratulations to the QLP for the wins in the two by-elections  (deplorably low turnout, possibly excused by the weather?). It is good that Philippe Couillard now has a seat in the Assemblée. However, not before Bill 70 (the new Quebec Mining Act) was rushed through with support of the Liberals  despite their call for more time before closure. Almost everyone seems happy with it, except some of the First Nations who are threatening a court challenge.

In Ottawa, to the delight of the commentariat , Michael Chong has proposed his Reform Act. Opinion runs the gamut from  Michael Chong’s Reform Act is Canada’s best hope at . pushing back creeping presidentialism to Michael Chong’s Reform Bill Is DOA  – and that’s just a sampling from the National Post

As the Obamacare saga continues with more twists, turns and opinions than it is humanly possible to track, we prefer to point to a delightful healthcare success story with a Montreal connection. Hacking Health originated as the Sauvé project of Jeeshan Chowhury, was enthusiastically backed by Wednesday Nighter  Luc Sirois and, later, when the first event was held in Vancouver,  Alexandra Tcheremenska Greenhill joined in.  Last Saturday, on CBC radio, The Guru and the Hackers was the feature story of White Coat Black Art, giving an excellent account of  Hacking Health Toronto –  a weekend-long hack-a-thon that connects health professionals with software designers, engineers, and computer visionaries. Their goal is to take an idea and turn it into a killer health-care app in just forty-eight hours. There will be a Hacking Health event in Montreal in February 2014 – we will let you know more closer to the date.

Education is a topic of never-ending interest and new developments, theories and counter-theories. A recent Washington Post article, The problem with public policy schools,  examines the proliferation of public policy schools and their perceived weaknesses — too broad and too academic, too focused on national and global issues at the expense of local and state-level ones. It’s not clear that the schools are preparing their graduates to fix all that needs fixing. Interesting debate.

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