Wednesday Night #1734

Written by  //  May 26, 2015  //  David/Terry Jones, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

We are delighted to welcome David and Terry (aka Teresa Chin) Jones, who are on their annual Canadian fact-finding  trip.While we encourage you to share analyses and opinions with them, we look forward to learning their impressions as keen external (though perhaps not always the most impartial) observers of the Canadian sociopolitical and economic scene.  David, who served as Political Minister Counselor in the U.S. Ottawa Embassy (1992-96), has written hundreds of columns and articles on Canada-U.S. relations (Hill Times, Ottawa Citizen, Embassy, Metropolitain, Policy Options, Foreign Policy Research Institute, etc.), and  coauthored with David Kilgour  Uneasy Neighbo(u)rs  on U.S.-Canada relations. Subsequently, the two Davids collaborated on the provocative and entertaining Yahoo blog “David vs David” which has recently ended. Terry, the daughter of a Russian-speaking Chinese diplomat, is a chemist-turned-economist, who served as U.S. consul for economic affairs in Montreal and later as Science Officer at the embassy in Ottawa. She continues to assiduously follow science developments in Canada and frequently forwards news that we have not yet seen here. The transcript of Terry’s fascinating oral history, recounted in her characteristically wry tone in a fascinating document available from the Library of Congress. Be warned, once you have opened it, you will not tolerate any interruption!

In response to the Joneses’  quest for information on current Canadian attitudes and developments (especially in light of the forthcoming federal elections), we propose to concentrate on Canadian topics, starting with Jeremy Kinsman’s recent, brilliant analysis in OpenCanada, A MUST READ for students and practitioners of geopolitics and diplomacy.
U.S. and Iran: A diplomatic lesson for Canada
Few relationships are as adversarial as that of the US and Iran. But negotiating with one’s enemy is the most important kind of diplomacy — Canada should take note
There is a lesson here for current Canadian practice of not talking with adversaries for reasons that are sometimes “moral,” and sometimes related to domestic politics. As former ambassador to the UN Paul Heinbecker put it, by childishly closing our embassy in Tehran because we disapproved of the regime there, Canada is “deaf, dumb, and blind” in Iran.

Our good friend Brett House is pleased that many months of persistence resulted in the creation of a CA$300-million development finance initiative “at the same time one of the most overdue and most innovative elements of the government’s economic action plan.” Announced in the 2015 federal budget, the initiative is designed to encourage private investment, job creation and growth to fight extreme poverty in developing countries. As he has pointed out: “With our aid budget stuck at less than US$5 billion annually, the 2015 budget’s development finance initiative would allow Canada to leverage private know-how and money to get closer to making good on our promises. … This initiative also has the potential to be among the government’s most innovative programs: as the final G7 country to offer meaningful support to private development efforts, we can learn from others’ experiences and do things both differently and better. We can also learn from our own mistakes.”

We recently discovered Worthwhile Canadian Initiative — A mainly Canadian economics blog – some good articles and entertaining threads.

More and more Canadians are frustrated and confused by the Harper government’s seemingly ambivalent attitude towards the Canadian military and veterans. While heaping praise on the war dead of the World Wars and other combats (Less money to help veterans, more to remember them), the government makes it difficult for veterans to access services while delaying the purchase of necessary equipment. We won’t easily forget the recent headline  Documents show navy mechanics had to use eBay to find ship parts – or is this a clever ploy to ensure that there are no outrageous cost overruns due to sloppy (or worse) procurement procedures? What about Delayed trucks now due in 2017 ? Is this all in the name of a balanced budget? The two Davids tackled some of these issues earlier this year:
David (Jones) Support our troops: America’s veterans expect the best, but it comes at a steep price
vs
David (Kilgour) Support our troops: Canadian veterans shouldn’t have to fight for benefits and services

While Terry Jones often sends laudatory pieces about scientific breakthroughs in Canadian academia or corporate entities, hundreds of union activists representing Canada’s scientists held protests in cities across the country this week, demanding the federal government end what they see as rampant political interference in scientific research.
A 2013 PIPSC survey of around 4,000 of its science members found 90 percent of them felt they weren’t allowed to speak with media about their work, while nearly half reported instances where their department “suppressed information, leading to incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading impressions by the public.” And 25 percent reported being asked to exclude or alter information for “non-scientific” reasons. The survey concludes “a chill has fallen on federal government science and scientists.” … there is disagreement among experts over the extent to which scientists are being silenced and if, as civil servants, they should even have free rein to speak publicly. Even so, there are numerous examples of science journalists facing major roadblocks while reporting on government research, and cases where scientists have been denied the opportunity to attend conferences or collaborate with other scientists around the world. More

But that’s not what David & Terry want to hear about. They want to know how we react to the NDP victory in Alberta – is it really the end of the world as Canada (Ottawa) knows it? Probably not. Premier Notley might want to read IRPP Policy Options A grand bargain for Alberta? How will it affect the federal elections? Will the Anybody-but-Harper vote split the opposition and enable the Tories to come up through the middle? Will the Orange Wave crash on the shores of Quebec?

Interesting to read in Paul Wells’ interview with Brian Mulroney the latter’s comments on Tom Mulcair: “he is the best Opposition leader in my judgment since Diefenbaker.  He’s building credibility both in the House of Commons and across the country, slowly. I’m surprised at how well some of his support is holding here. Most of all—I’m a believer in this because it happened to me—when I hear the experts say, “These television debates, they don’t count.” They don’t, eh? You’re looking at a guy who made it to 24 Sussex because of them. Mrs. Notley made it to the premier’s position because of television debates. So I think that the television debates in the next election may turn out to be the most important since 1984, and it is hard to see how anyone is going to best Mr. Mulcair in these debates. And if he is in the process of playing for it all, he is going to be lethal.” So the negotiations regarding the televised debates may prove to be more important than initially thought and it may be more understandable that the Harper team has refused to participate in the national consortium debate.

We missed the news of the death last month of the late, legendary, Claude Taylor of Air Canada and so are grateful to Fred Langan for his graceful tribute in the Globe & Mail. Claude Taylor was an exemplary boss, devoted to the well-being of his employees and ‘his’ airline, always courteous, modest and a model of probity.

We share the outrage regarding the recent news that the Quebecor  chairman (that would be Brian Mulroney) overruled 72 per cent of shareholders  who withheld their support for Michel Lavigne as a company director, because the loss of a director of “the high quality and integrity of Mr. Lavigne would be deplorable.” It is noteworthy that Mr. Lavigne only received 38% approval last year — and stayed on the board. Oh, yes, there’s also the matter of PKP’s distance from the management of the company now that he is the leader of the PQ. Mr. Mulroney raised a few eyebrows when he stated that PKP has divorced himself from operations but still has a role to play in major decisions the company might make.  Probity, it appears, is not a noun frequently associated with Quebecor.

Pearson must have been a fun place to be on Monday. NOT. as Air Canada begins clamp down in Toronto on passenger’s carry-on baggage. Why not charge more for tickets and actually offer some service, rather than pretending to offer lower fares and recuperating masses of money through all the extra petty charges? They might even gain some contented customers. Perish the thought. Air Canada reported a first quarter adjusted net income of $122 million, the best first-quarter financial performance in the airline’s history, and in March, Air Canada’s CEO told CBC News that extra fees have become an essential part of the business model. (Air Canada CEO says extra baggage fees, fuel charges essential to airline profit)

Montreal continues to reinvent itself. May, for those of you who were unaware, is Mount Royal month which includes the Chromatic Festival at the Mount Royal Chalet, 22-26 May – who knew? More importantly, on Sunday the 24th, at the official closing of the month=long celebration, Mayor Coderre and Peter Howlett of Les Amis de la montagne presented our friend Jean Doré with the prix du Mont-Royal.

Reminders
Tuesday, 26 May at 5pm, Kimon Valaskakis speaks at the University Club on Reinventing the West: A Global Imperative Details
Tuesday, 2 June at 5pm Book Launch of THE RISE AND FALL OF BLACKBERRY with Sean Silcoff

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