Wednesday Night #1698, #1699, #1700

Written by  //  September 17, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1698, #1699, #1700

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You are invited to celebrate the 1700th Wednesday Night Salon* on Wednesday, October 1st. – Chez-nous – any time from 7 to 11. Come for a quick visit, or spend the evening with us. There will be wine, a variety of tasty treats, and above all – conversation – which will not be limited to one-at-a-time.

A celebration of Wednesday Night is a celebration of each and every one of you who has participated, whether regularly or intermittently, over many years, or very recently, as tenacious exponents of a particular view on a specific subject, as thoughtful contributors on a wide range of issues, or as almost-silent listeners whose rare contributions tend to astonish and often delight. the entire audience. It is not only the diversity of opinion, but also of level of participation that makes for a weekly renewal of our beloved institution.

Once again, in the words of Lewis Carroll, we will
“talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.”

Or perhaps in today’s terms:
The bell has rung, debate begun,
– One at a time, the Chairman’s pleas –
Of bombs and boots and seeing Mars
Of sovereign debt – and rising seas
And why the world is in a mess
And why no butterflies or bees”


Julius Grey by RJG book cover

Among those we celebrate this week, in particular: Julius Grey, subject of the newly published, by Boréal, Julius Grey. Entretiens with the great cover photo by Robert Galbraith – photo taken at Wednesday Night.
Also notable is Kimon’s op-ed in the Gazette of Saturday in which he posits that ISIS, by ignoring the governing principle of Strategy 101 – divide and conquer, has sown the seeds of its own destruction.
And to Marc , Maya and Bo Nicholson, Clare Schapiro and the entire cast & crew of Singapore Creations, Etc. Congratulations on a successful launch of their project last Thursday! Singapore will never be quite the same.

More food for thought
Dismantling Empires Through Devolution — Democracy is not the most potent political force of the 21st century
Open Canada has published an interesting dialogue between Ian Brodie and Roland Paris on Stephen Harper’s foreign policy — Ian Brodie: Canada disengaging from NATO, the UN and multilateralism? Not a chance — Harper is still an internationalist, albeit of a different kind. A response to Roland Paris who asks Are Canadians still liberal internationalists? Meantime, William Marsden writes that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s UN performance ends on high note, citing his speech to the UN General Assembly While other leaders of major economies spoke of alliances and the war against terrorism, Ebola and climate change, Harper separated himself from the crowd, mentioning these issues only in passing. Instead, he spoke of long-term economic solutions to address poverty, inequality, health care and freedom.. Unfortunately, the speech was poorly attended, but we’ll address that issue another day.
If anyone has been following the despicable attack by Ezra Levant on Justin Trudeau, Heather Mallick’s Working to find a cure for Ezra Levant is a must-read. As Brett House writes: We seem to have an unfortunate gaggle of personalities in Canadian public life these days, but the upside is that it’s spawning some beautifully acidic writing.
Which leads us to advertise the fact that Brett is organizing a great panel on debt restructuring at 4pm on Oct 9th at the World Bank. If you have not registered now – it’s too late, but we are sure he will share his thoughts after the fact.
Brett’s former colleague, Peter Berezin, was a recent panelist with Andrew McAfee from MIT at BCA’s annual New York Investment Conference. Sending along a link to his presentation A Smarter World: Human Intelligence & Economic Growth From 50,000 B.C. To The Singularity with an extended transcript that includes “a number of items I did not get a chance to discuss during my speech”, he explains that he touched on a wide spectrum of issues, ranging from how rising human intelligence has helped propel civilization over the past 10,000 years, to how technology is likely to further increase our mental capabilities and radically extend our lifespans.. He adds, “I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed delivering it.”
Finally, How ‘clicktivism’ has changed the face of political campaigns suggests that by simply signing on to a petition site, individuals may be losing the urge to actively and personally promote important causes.

*For those who are more recent additions to Wednesday Night and may therefore be unfamiliar with its genesis, do have a look at our Salon page.
As the Salon ‘just grew’ like Topsy, we never recorded the date on which it could be said to have started, however, dead reckoning yields 3 March 1982, which, taking into account leap years, gives WN a lifespan of 1700 weeks, and 391.07 months. (Thank you, Ron Meisels, for the calculator to aid the dead reckoning!)


The magic number of #1700 is coming up next week – stay tuned!

For multiple reasons, this must be short – we will keep adding to it later, however, are soon expected at the Commemoration of dear Udo Stunder’s life.

We are devastated by the news that our friend, former Mayor Jean Doré has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – he and his family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Climate change
Even the climate change deniers amongst us will have to admit that they were impressed by the incredible Peoeple’s Climate March in New York and around the world on Sunday. The coverage was of curse massive – one cannot ignore that many people in one place – but the most interesting reflection perhaps is in The Wisdom of the Crowd
“Typically, at such events, the destination is an open-air field or arena featuring an elaborate speakers’ stand, with a backstage infrastructure of headquarters tents, satellite vans, and port-a-cans. The stand is festooned with microphones, amplifiers, and powerful loudspeakers. Rock bands and folksingers, the more famous the better, alternate with orators representing the various factions comprising the sponsoring coalition. At the People’s Climate March, there was no speakers’ stand, because there were no speakers. There was just the march and the people marching.”
Now we wait for outcomes from the Climate Summit – yes, that would be the summit at which Steven Harper will not appear, despite the presence of all his chums from the Big Leagues. No, not quite true – his good friends from China and Australia are not going either.

The 2014 edition of The United Nations and Canada: What Canada has done and should be doing at the UN will be released on September 24th, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses the UN General Assembly for the first time since 2010.

The campaign against ISIS
An uneasy alliance is taking shape in the middle Eaast with the first bombing of Syria on Tuesday by the U.S.and its Arab allies who include Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who either participated in or supported the strikes against Islamic State targets. As reuters delicately puts it: “All are countries hostile to Assad but now fearful of the fighters that have emerged out of the anti-Assad rebellion they backed.” Indeed, geopolitics makes for some very strange bedfellows. [Islamic State blows away Gulf qualms about joining U.S. military action]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a grim report stating that Ebola could strike 20,000 in six weeks, ‘rumble on for years’

From geopolitics to politics – and all politics is local.
School board elections
We are very happy to learn that Anne Lagacé Dowson is running to become EMSB chairperson. She is an excellent candidate and will undoubtedly receive strong support.
And our friend Ginette Sauvé Frankel is running in Westmount–Sud-Ouest–Ville Marie for re-election as a commissioner; she is part of the slate of Angela Mancini who has been the school board’s chairwoman since 2007 and is running for another term. As we understand it, these elections reflect a new system under which electors vote for a commissioner AND the chair separately – so we can support both of our friends.
We urge Wednesday Nighters to check out whether they are on the voting list and if not to rectify the situation.School board elections will be held across Quebec on Sunday Nov. 2. Check with Quebec’s chief electoral officer to know if you are eligible and registered to vote. Education is SO important and the turnout for these elections is usually even more abysmal than the participation in other votes. Particularly important this year with the upcoming battle with Quebec EMSB says no to planned budget cuts.

LPC news
A battle of the giants? Mount Royal, Irwin Cotler’s long-time fiefdom is about to become the scene of political mayhem and melodrama, now that Beryl Wajsman has declared for the Conservative nomination and Jonathan Goldbloom for the Liberals’. Will Mr. Goldbloom’s cancelled contract with the MUHC come up in the campaign? Our bet is yes.
Former Quebec deputy premier Normandeau says federal Liberals have approached her – Pablo Rodriguez says no and we sincerely hope he is telling the truth. Aren’t the FedLibs in enough trouble over manipulations in assorted nomination battles? Why would they even think of someone whose name has been up in lights at the Charbonneau Commisson?

A huge shout-out to Marc Nicholson and Clare Shapiro on the eve of the official launch of Singapore Creations Etc. – we are so excited for you and wish we could be with you.

This weekend, don’t forget to pay a visit to Art Westmount 2014 (Saturday, Sept. 27 [noon – 6 pm] or Sunday, Sept. 28 [10 am – 6 pm]) and drop in to say hello and see Diana Bruno‘s photography at ‘the weekend celebration of Westmount artists’. She’ll be in the concert hall at Victoria Hall. Diana also forwarded a link to a ‘fun’ related Youtube video


Of course THE REFERENDUM dominates the media in the lead-up to Scotland’s Decision Day on Thursday. Everyone is getting into the act, especially Canadians who cannot wait to draw parallels (or not) with Quebec. We have posted a selection on our UK page and offer just a very small sampling here including Kimon‘s eloquent discussion of  The triple mistake of a Yes vote in Scotland and CIGI Fellow  John Ibbitson’s: Some lessons for federalists, from Scotland to Ukraine
‘The secret to success in democratic federalism is goodwill. All communities must recognize that if they are to maximize liberty, wealth and security then it is better that they live together than live apart. The tragedy of the Arab Middle East is that goodwill is a vanishingly rare commodity. Nonetheless, unless the various Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish communities can find ways of sharing a federal space, then their future will be as bloody as their past.”
On the lighter side are P.J. O’Rourke who rubs his hands in glee at the prospect of a gig as a foreign correspondent based in London in A Free Scotland Would Be a Hilarious Disaster and  Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scottish Independence proving that there’s no length to which John Oliver will not go to keep Scotland in the U.K.  – priceless 15-minute video.

The critics of President Obama’s foreign policy have moved on from bewailing his lack of a strategy (for Syria) to calling for greater U.S. commitment and more troops on the ground. Rounding up – and composing with – allies in the Middle East to handle the mess that they have created through their own records of intolerance and repression (Saudi Arabia, key to Obama’s strategy, beheaded at least 8 people last month) has been a challenge. A far greater challenge is to define what the goal of successful intervention is. In a recent interview, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes “readily acknowledged that the United States would not be able to “defeat the tactic of terrorism” or “eliminate extremism in the vein of Islamic extremism.” The objective, rather, was to “methodically degrade” those “discrete organizations and affiliates” for whom terrorism is a tradecraft.” But will that be sufficient? Australia, meanwhile, is calling on Russia and China to join the coalition against ISIS/ISIL.
This is the speech Obama would give on ISIS if he were brutally honestBrilliant!
(Vox) em>But let me be clear: this plan won’t destroy ISIS, now or possibly ever. This is just not something that we can accomplish without re-invading, and there is no way I’m going to end my presidency with a second major American occupation of Iraq. That being said, what I’m proposing has a decent shot at pushing the group out of Iraq. And right now, that’s the best we can hope for.

Both countries have other fish to fry. China, as our guest last week, Commodore Bhaskar made clear is focusing on its Asian neighbors, particularly India at present – perhaps hoping that the rest of the world isn’t paying attention. And then there is the enigmatic Mr. Putin. How will he react to the news that Ukraine has ratified the EU deal, offering special status to rebels? David Kilgour asks Can Putin Be Persuaded to Accept European Harmony?. Will the decline in the Russian ruble influence his strategy at all? And while we are on the topic of Russia and Mr. Putin, News you need to know: Putin’s ‘girlfriend’ Alina Kabayeva to head pro-Kremlin media group
Former Olympic gymnastics champion to quit as MP in Russian president’s party to take control of National Media Group.

The UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday and there is no lack of critical items on the to-us-unintelligible agenda; we’ll wait for the movie. Before the high-level speeches next week (even Mr. Harper is going this year), an emergency session of the Security Council will address the growing Ebola crisis in Africa. And on September 23rd, some 120 heads of state will descend on NYC for the climate summit – a last chance for consensus before the 2015 climate talks. Australia’s Tony Abbott is skipping the meeting – what are the bets that Stephen Harper will likewise find something else to occupy his time?

Our thoughts will be with Kyle Matthews and his MIGS colleagues on Thursday the 18th as they host* the New York Symposium on the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, celebrating the life and legacy of Raoul Wallenberg.
Speakers include Jan Eliason, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; Luis Moreno Ocampo, Founder Chief Prosecutor of the ICC; and Irwin Cotler, Canadian Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice
*in partnership with the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program at the Cardozo School of Law, the Center on International Cooperation at NUY, and the Swedish Consulate in New York.

With Parliament and the National Assembly again in session, the continuing soap opera of the Toronto mayoralty race and the latest developments in the Mike Duffy saga, there will be plenty to entertain us at home, even if we will no longer be entertained by the parade of witnesses in front of the Charbonneau Commission (Quebec’s version of the Sopranos) should we tire of international matters.
Ottawa’s consistent Friday afternoon release of news of which it is not particularly proud would be amusing if it were not so sneaky. The latest item in the long list is the ratification of the Canada-China FIPA, which was widely criticized at the time of signing two years ago by many including Diane Francis- hardly a raving left-winger [Canada-China trade deal is too one-sided]
Despite having two years of opportunity since the signing of the FIPA, there has been just one hour of discussion at the trade committee, no vote in Parliament, and no public consultations on the deal. Plus, the ratification comes while the Hupacasath First Nation’s legal challenge on the constitutionality of the agreement is still being considered by the Federal Court of Appeal, with a decision on the case expected any day.

tony-accurso-dustin-hoffmanFinally, we leave you with this image: Tony Accurso et Dustin Hoffman – Séparés à la naissance?

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