Wednesday Night #1674

Written by  //  April 2, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Amidst the increasingly heated Quebec  election campaign, news of shenanigans in the Conservative Party, no news of MH 370, mixed messages regarding the on-going confrontation with Russia over Ukraine (diplomacy in Paris while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced plans on Monday to turn Crimea into a special economic zone) AND the release of the most recent IPCC Report, we have a full night with two outstanding guests.

Peter Berezin  was already scheduled to elaborate on the February 27th BCA Special Report The Immigration Debate: What It Means For Investors which argues that “immigration would boost global GDP by enabling workers to move to countries where they are more productive. However, it is possible that immigration reform would depress real wages over the short-to-medium run, especially for less-skilled workers.”  On emerging markets, BCA believes that the bar for a severe crisis in emerging markets is quite high, and the bar for significant spillovers to developed economies is even higher. Today, BCA has released a Special Report, Crisis In Ukraine: Realities, Myths, And Consequences  in which BCA’s Chief Geopolitical Strategist Marko Papic discusses the (geo)political, financial, and economic consequences of the crisis in Ukraine.
Tyler Cavell returns to Wednesday Night after a long absence. When he was last with us, he was working on a new concept  which became  MediaScrape, the Internet Broadcast News Company, Inc., of which he was CEO until January of last year.  After a 15-month hiatus as Chief Digital & Platform Officer of  Padulo Integrated Inc., Tyler  now has a new venture The Print News Network (PNN) ©The International Newspaper Network ©, modestly billed as an alliance of the top newspaper publishers from every corner of the world.  But the announcement that Pierre Karl Péladeau had set his heart on a seat (throne?) in the Quebec elections prompted Tyler to set up a blog BlockPeladeau.com dedicated to informing Quebec voters about the economic and financial  issues of the campaign and not incidentally disabusing them of any illusions regarding PKP’s business acumen.

Russia/Ukraine
Despite somewhat optimistic reports of the Kerry/Lavrov meeting in Paris, diplomacy seems to have been trumped by other events and declarations. Reportedly, Russia’s deputy PM tweeted “Crimea is ours, and that’s that’ which seems to sum up the situation pretty neatly and Russia is withdrawing some troops from the Ukrainian border. But that leaves the world to worry about what other mischief Vladimir Putin may be contemplating. One of the most thoughtful analyses we have seen is Viewing the Ukraine Crisis From Russia’s Perspective, a clear reminder of the imprint of history on the Russian soul. The Independent (and other media) quotes Andrej Illarionov, former chief economic adviser to Mr. Putin:  “After annexing Crimea and with troops massed on the border of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will not stop trying to expand Russia until he has ‘conquered’ Belarus, the Baltic states and Finland” . At the same time, at the other end of the ‘sphere of interest’,  Russia tightens hold on Kyrgyzstan and, buys a 51% interest in Manas International Airport, which is both Kyrgyzstan’s main international gateway and home to the U.S. base used to support NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Canada
The debate over the “Fair Elections Act” continues with Andrew Coyne leading the opposition far more forcefully than either Mr. Mulcair or Justin  : A normal government wouldn’t ram through this elections bill
Harper’s Dilbert-Inspired Management Style (must read)  seems to have been confirmed on Sunday when Dimitri Soudas fired as Conservative Party executive director The combative Soudas was Harper’s choice to run the party in the lead-up to the 2015 federal election. Soudas was appointed over the protests of cabinet ministers and national council members who pushed for other candidates.
With respect to Canada’s international image, you no doubt noticed the featured New York Times

Although a far cry from the international crises lurking behind every headline, the recent announcement of the Harper government’s sale of diplomatic properties (Posh properties available as Canada sells off several diplomatic digs), especially Macdonald House in London, has provoked some outcry in circles that believe that there is a need for Canada to maintain a dignified presence in the major capitals of the world. One former diplomat wonders whether in future [diplomats] will soon be operating out of Winnebago motor homes abroad. It is not a topic that arouses much public sympathy, but we believe that, while some properties were unduly self-important, a certain number in key countries should be retained for reasons of image, convenience  and security.

Climate change
The IPCC report takes us from alarmism to adaptation
The landmark climate change study should silence the doubters, and steers us towards calm – if urgent – debate on how we act

Quebec elections –  Where parties stand on five big issues in the Quebec election — Sovereignty, Public Finances, Health, Economy and jobs, Corruption and ethics – your Cole’s Notes on what should be the issues
If  it  were not so serious, the news would be laughable. Topping the list would, of course, be Janette Bertrand’s fears for the swimming pool at Le Cartier where she takes part in Aquafit classes. While the mockery has been intense, we believe that the PQ may have taken advantage of someone whose best-before-date has expired. How else to account for her ridiculous ramblings? But, this serves the PQ purpose and Mme Marois will likely milk it for all she is worth, as it is far preferable to answering the charges regarding the dubious leadership campaign financing involving her husband, Claude Blanchet. Or bid rigging by engineering firms And what of PKP?  The establishment of companies in Delaware has been raised recently, but the far more important story, according to Tyler Cavell is  the ongoing lawsuit in the US against PKP Peladeau and Quebecor for taking funds out of Quebecor World printing subsidiary during a 90 day bankruptcy period – this is illegal – Brian Mulroney was also on the Board at the time. About PKP – spotted in Trois Rivières today with Mme Marois, as she made it clear that the PQ is willing to use notwithstanding clause to make sure controversial secular charter becomes law – it  seems she has decided to keep him close by.
Adam Daifallah continues to supply sprightly commentary with the Hatley Minute Despite his skepticism (which we share),  regarding polls, the latest  post-Debate II CROP of only francophone voters shows the Parti Québécois at 36 per cent, ahead of the Liberals at 29 per cent, and the CAQ at 24 per cent. Yes, there’s still a week to go, but we admit we are concerned.  We look forward to hearing the figures for voting in the advance poll; anecdotal evidence indicates that numbers could be high.  Students are still having a rough time as borne out by an interview on  Monday’s As It Happens Part I  We are pleased and proud that Wednesday Nighter Julius Grey is going to bat for four McGill students denied a vote

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