Wednesday Night #1671

Written by  //  March 12, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1671

A strong contingent braved blizzard conditions to contribute to a highly stimulating discussion.

John Curtin and Tyler had more positive views than most on the [obnoxious] Kevin O’Leary and coincidentally the news surfaced the next day that he would be leaving Dragons Den Canada Just Moved One Step Closer To Getting Rid Of Kevin O’Leary and might indeed be abandoning CBC entirely as he looks south to a more receptive audience.


The cup runneth over this week between the Quebec election and Russia/Ukraine/Crimea, with the latter drawing our attention to the intimate/incestuous relationship between geopolitics and the globalized economy.
While pundits of all stripes fulminate about what the West could/should/should not do in the face of Russian threats to Ukraine, we are reminded  in Ukraine: Goodbye Cold War, hello globalised economy that “The days of the ‘iron curtain’ are behind us; the West can’t intervene in Ukraine due to global economic dynamics. Furthermore,  the UK is loath to take any action that might jeopardize London’s status as the go-to financial refuge for oligarchs and kleptocrats. [Ben Judah: London’s Laundry Business and  London, a city in thrall to money and greed] On the topic of oligarchs, the Guardian offers a handy rundown on the Ukrainian oligarchs and where their allegiances appear to be (at least for now), while Mikhail Khodorkovsky has surfaced in Kiev offering to mediate – pretty unlikely that Putin would accept.
In an intriguing development, China has now weighed in according to a report in the Guardian —  Chinese president Xi Jinping urges US to show restraintBeijing leader tells Obama and Merkel that they must pursue a political solution to ‘extremely complex’ situation. Easy for him to say.
Although reports of lengthy conversations between President Obama and Mr. Putin are negative and Angela Merkel is delivering stiff messages, David Cameron is huffing and puffing in an almost ludicrous fashion. So far, the only hopeful spark is an Al Jazeera report that “Russia steps towards diplomacy”  although  it will not budge on Crimea.
All in all, we don’t seem to be advancing much. Nor does anyone appear to be heeding Henry Kissinger’s  reminder that the test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins [How the Ukraine crisis ends]
Meanwhile, among all the commentaries on what to do about Ukraine, we point you to  Brett House’s perceptive and cogent argument that The West should forget about punishing Russia and do more to help Ukraine

From the referendum in Crimea to the promise/threat of one in Quebec
Sunday’s announcement that Pierre Karl Pélodeau is running for the PQ in St-Jérôme certainly made media waves, including breathless anticipation of the Suncor media take. The FTQ immediately issued a reaction on Telbec  (complete with all the exclamation points) 
Réaction de la FTQ à la candidature de Pierre Karl Péladeau – Le PQ recrute le champion des conflits de travail au Québec !!! , cartoons proliferated and an early poll shows some surprising results . Sondage : la majorité péquiste loin d’être acquise
Meanwhile, Tasha Kheiriddin analyses the party slogans How would Orwell read these campaign slogans? and is unimpressed.
We, however, applaud the news that Mayor Coderre  will take advantage of the election period to make the case not only for Montreal’s status but also that of the municipal level of government. It is good to have a mayor who is also a fierce champion of our city.

Federal elections may be more than a year away, but Liberal candidate selection is ramping up – at least in and around Montreal. We were delighted to be present at Rachel Bendayan’s investiture as the Liberal candidate in Outremont on Sunday – great turnout, rousing speeches by all and Rachel delivered a pitch-perfect address – she is a superb public speaker, equally articulate in both official languages, and could give lessons to most politicians. Tom Mulcair should not underestimate this woman!
There is a quite puzzling acceleration of the candidate selection in Ville-Marie. For  a new riding , and arguably the most critical  in Montreal,  with a newly appointed riding executive that brings together representatives of hitherto different ridings, it appears unduly hasty to hold the nomination on April 3rd  The abruptly announced early date becomes even less understandable as we are in the middle of a provincial election of such importance. Many dedicated federal Liberals will be devoting themselves to the provincial party and some excellent candidates may not have had sufficient lead-time to contest the nomination, thus depriving the members of a greater choice.
In contrast, there are numerous aspiring candidates in Pierrefonds (11) and  Soulanges-Vaudreuil (at least 8), who seem to have ample time to wage campaigns. We were present for the launch of Peter Schiefke’s  campaign on Saturday, in Hudson. Organized by Diana Sanderson and her husband, Rocco, it was an enthusiastic kick-off – in a beautiful setting –  that augurs well for Peter’s chances.

The news out of Ottawa continues to offer plenty of opportunities for constructive criticism by opposition parties. The latest report on the status of Canada’s shipbuilding program is truly depressing. All four parts of the program are either over budget, behind schedule, or both. Three of the four face “major challenges” of a technical nature, as well as difficulties lining up skilled manpower to get the ships built at all. This wasn’t supposed to happen.  We remember how most applauded the shipbuilding initiative, despite the greater costs of ‘made at home’ ships than that of those purchased from international sources. The sad sight of the Protecteur limping in to Pearl Harbor only underlined the parlous state of the once-glorious Royal Canadian Navy. No doubt heads will roll at DND.
Andrew Coyne tells us that Marc Mayrand shredded the ‘Fair Elections Act’ almost line by line when he appeared before the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee. Whether this will result in any substantive changes remains to be seen, but the government has indicated there  will be some  amendment(s?).  Now if Mr. Poilievre would stop Misrepresenting the Voter Fraud Report, things would be even better.

The debate about (income) inequality continues. There is even an  website, The Daily Record calls income inequality a moral and economic crisis. To nobody’s surprise, Paul Krugman has launched the most recent volley, asking (but not answering)  What can be done about income inequality? Robert Reich writes in the Globe & Mail  It’s the inequality, stupid and offers this cure to the North American audience (we don’t know why it would not be applicable almost anywhere else): The first step for Americans is to break down the barriers of race, class and segregation by income that are pushing them apart. Canada would be well advised to watch for the same symptoms, and take similar steps. Pope Francis has joined the chorus  with such effect that President Obama will meet with him at the end of the month in what is billed as an Inequality Summit . And now, The IMF (Finally) Admits That Inequality Slows Growth – with such unanimity, we should likely look for the next topic du jour.

Bringing inequality concerns closer to home, Wednesday Nighter (and ‘celebrity jurist’), Julius Grey will be speaking on  The Growing Gap between Rich & Poor at a public lecture co-sponsored by the  MONTREAL JOURNALISTS NETWORK and the CIA (No, not that one – Citizens in Action)
Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
Concordia University, School of Community & Public Affairs,
2149 Mckay St (between Sherbrooke & De Maisonneuve Blvd.)
7.00 p.m. sharp

The terrible news of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, with its mystery of stolen passports and the absence of any physical trace, does offer one positive note. There are now 40 ships and 34 aircraft from nine different nations, including the U.S. and China,  taking part in the search in the China Sea. At moments like this, international cooperation shines.

We always try to leave you with a smile or at least something cheerful to ponder. This week’s offering is in the latter category under the heading of creative education:
Conflict Cuisine: Teaching War Through Washington’s Ethnic Restaurant Scene
This is a first–combining a serious course about conflicts with an exploration of the culinary legacy of these wars as manifested by the Washington restaurants. By using readings about those wars, and utilizing other media, I hope to bring together the classroom and the communities who still use their cooking to retain a link with their former homelands.
We are thinking to perhaps introduce a WN variation  … Let us know what you think.

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