Wednesday Night #1738

Written by  //  June 24, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

For those not already absent on summer sojourns, Wednesday Night’s welcome mat is out. We will bid Alan Hustak adieu as he is off to his Saskatchewan home, avoiding the prevailing perils of navigating Peel Street to reach his office aka the new terrasse of Alexandre. We look forward to his commentary on the political scene and to comparing/contrasting his present views with any changing perspectives throughout the summer.
Meantime, to get us started:
Parliament has recessed and Irwin Cotler’s dignified parting shots deserve our attention.
Irwin Cotler’s perfect ending
Liberal MP Irwin Cotler uses his second last day in the House of Commons to uphold ‘the vitality of our democracy’
The Sunday Talk on The National– The Politics of Departure in the wake of James Moore’s announcement the panel discussed what these departures mean.
Stephen Harper’s season of discontent: Hébert
With the NDP on the rise nationally, Quebec is no longer an isolated pocket of anti-Conservative opposition.
Paul Wells: Trudeau’s reforms, three ‘ifs’ and a set of Ginsu steak knives
Justin Trudeau has proposed a giant list of reforms. Will voters care as much as they say they do?
(Maclean’s) “There is a Lucy’s-football element to democratic reform, forever pulled away at the crucial moment, that makes each generation’s promises harder to believe. Brian Mulroney ran as a reformer, too, after all, and Chrétien, and Harper. Maybe Trudeau’s reforms will seem so sweeping, they’ll be more persuasive. He is essentially running on 20 years of Andrew Coyne columns. It’s so earnest, you could cry.
“I keep seeing polls that suggest people believe the health of our democratic system is a pressing national concern. If those polls are right, and if people believe Trudeau’s proposals would make a difference, and if they believe giving him a chance to fix our institutions outweighs any misgivings they have about him, then he can only gain. That sentence has three “ifs” in it.”
On the other hand, one our favorite Liberal candidates suggests that if some of the disaffected read (or hear) and understand some of the worthy reform proposals, they may be tempted to muffle their dislike of the Liberal stance on C-51. We agree that is possible, but wonder how many will look at the ill-fated promise not to intervene in open nominations and wonder whether to believe any promises.
And, as we are committed equal opportunity critics, we draw your attention to Mulcair Warns Against Quebec Sovereignty, But Revives Talk Of Sherbrooke Declaration – the forked tongue stance of the NDP is why many disaffected Liberals in Quebec will think twice before endorsing an NDP candidate.
There is one bit of good news: Michael Chong’s Reform Act aimed at rebalancing power between MPs and party leaders is on its way to becoming law.

On Monday, Montreal bade farewell to our friend, Jean Doré, the city’s most charismatic mayor in recent history – mind you, that’s not such a great compliment, the competition isn’t stiff. Think Gérald Tremblay, Pierre Bourque – even Jean Drapeau who was certainly effective, but not exactly warm & cuddly. We were surprised that Bourque had shown up at the funeral, as we well remember his petty refusal to hang Jean’s portrait at City Hall. To his credit, Gerald Tremblay remedied that quite quickly. Politicians of various stripes showed up to bask in Jean’s reflected glory, with the quote of the day being awarded to PKP who noted « la contribution de M. Doré pour «l’avancement de la démocratie municipale». Son esprit de «grand démocrate» a guidé toutes ses réalisations » . Such a tribute from Quebecor’s CEO ‘gris’.

There is some cautious optimism that the Greek debt crisis may be on the road to resolution. The BBC reports Eurozone leaders hopeful of deal , but the Economics editor warns  Greek tragedy[is the] End of an act, not the whole play and the Financial Times chimes in with the cheery comment that “beyond the immediate relief, there are widespread doubts among analysts that the new measures will do much to address the deep-rooted problems of the Greek economy that have contributed to the crisis. If anything, many Greece-watchers fear the heavy focus on fiscal consolidation and tax increases may trigger a repeat of what has happened over the past six years: a Greece that stumbles from one rescue programme to the next, rather than being able to stand on its own feet.” Greek proposal may deliver a deal, but economists despair
We recently received a link to The Greek Bankruptcy and Bailout * A History Review which in the exercise of due diligence we forwarded to some favorite economists. Kimon, who has been in Athens for the past few days, replied “I find this piece quite interesting and informative. For sure there have been many Greek defaults and bankruptcies in the past. But this is true of many countries and epochs.  Bankruptcies have been a regular feature of economic history from the Ancient World to now. And to everyone’s surprise, the greatest defaulter of the twentieth century was not Argentina, Greece or the United States but… Germany which did not pay its huge debts twice in the last century and got away with it.  In establishing relativity in the whole global history of defaults we come to an intriguing conclusion : bankruptcy is one accounting strategy among others to deal with insurmountable debt. — Nothing much more dramatic than that.”

June 20 is World Refugee Day and in 2014 a record 59.5 million people were refugees, asylum seekers or displaced due to conflict, violence or war, says an annual global trends report by the United Nations refugee agency. That total figure is up 16% from 2013 and 59% from 2004, says the report, which was released last week. The Guardian (London) (6/18), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (6/18), Voice of America (6/18). Closer to home, and largely ignored, is the tragedy of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic
The story of British international squash champion Cassie Thomas [The UK’s unfair immigration rules have exiled one of its world champion athletes] might appear to trivialize the global plight of hundreds of thousands of sick, starving and desperate immigrants, but we find it singularly illustrative of the rigidity, stupidity and heartless rules administered by bureaucracies around the world. Perhaps because of her profile, we might hope for public outcry that would work to improve the situation for others so much less fortunate?
In contrast, let’s join in the applause for the generosity of groups in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, where local communities and refugees are banding together. [World Refugee Day: stories of everyday heroes helping Syrian refugees]

We will not comment on the Charleston massacre beyond the frequently repeated ‘incomprehensible’. It has however brought into focus the veneration of the confederate flag (which in fact was never the official flag of the Confederacy – 8 things you didn’t know about the Confederate flag) by certain elements of the population. And we are glad that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has called for its removal from the state capitol, but as Zeba Blay points out in the HuffPost Taking Down The Confederate Flag Won’t ‘Solve’ Racism. Nor, of course, will it solve the problem of ease of acquisition and proliferation of guns. The Pro-Gun Lobby Has Won the Debate states the problem starkly: “Americans’ want for guns has always outweighed the facts. It did before this recent mass shooting and it will after the next one. It’s not just the NRA who has seen to this, but a majority of Americans. Liberal or conservative, Americans overwhelmingly say they want guns to be legal and available.” The Atlantic does offer some suggestions in Mass Shootings Are Preventable, reminding us that No single law could have stopped the tragedy in Charleston, but incremental steps can reduce the risk of future attacks.

 Pope Francis, whose encyclical Laudato Si’ has, as expected, attracted commentary by everyone from theologians to redneck politicians has reiterated his condemnation of the arms industry, making it clear that the manufacturers – and investors – in the industry should not be considered Christians – and the dealers?

Our cousin in Charlottesville, Virginia recently posted a picture of a man with a large gun in a hip holster, and a hunting knife on the other hip. He was wearing camouflage pants. The picture was taken in the local Ben & Gerry’s where he had stopped in with his (pregnant) wife and small daughter. Perfectly legal in Virginia.

The MUHC has now been pronounced open following Saturday’s Walk for Montreal; thousands paid $5 each to walk to the MUHC and enjoy a fiesta while the PPP that operates the Glen site is charging the volunteer organizations who raise money for the hospital $60K p/a rent. And parking fees are almost $50 per day. Meanwhile, although the tunnel from the Vendome metro is open, access for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility is non-existent. The second tunnel outfitted with elevators at the metro station is scheduled to be built, however it’s still in the planning stages with no announced timeline or budget. We think there is something VERY wrong with this entire picture. André Picard: In pursuit of ‘superhospitals,’ the public interest came last pretty well sums up our disappointment.

Education, as always is high on our agenda. Here is an unusual item – any candidates?
Renowned for its high standard of education and prominent status as the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university, the University of Cambridge is hiring a Lego professor to add to its academic roster of teachers. The incoming applicant will head a new research center that focuses on children’s relationships with play in education, development and learning. They will also investigate how unrestrictive play can help improve a child’s experience of education. All thanks to £4 million in donations from the Lego Foundation.

Kyle Matthews and his MIGS colleague Marie Lamensch are attending the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum – Media & Foreign Policy in the Digital Age. They are presenting new social media strategies at an important workshop “Social media versus digital jihad”. We are delighted that through Wednesday Night Kyle and Marion Canute have connected.

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