Wednesday Night #1763

Written by  //  December 16, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

 P R E L U D E

1763 – Treaty of Paris ends French-Indian War, surrendering Canada to Britain; plus the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of treaties with the Aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada, and it is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Proclamation states explicitly that Aboriginal people reserved all lands not ceded by or purchased from them.
Also the year that Charles Mason & Jeremiah Dixon begin surveying the Mason-Dixon Line between Pennsylvania & Maryland

Please join us for a festive pre-Christmas Wednesday Night, scheduled –we hope- before too many of our favorite people are off to holiday destinations.

Despite the Trumpetings from south of the border, there is much to celebrate, or at the least, quietly applaud while appreciating the immense challenges ahead.

Kimon has returned from Paris –we hope he will have comments on the most recent political events in France and how he reacts to the assessment from the Guardian  To understand the Front National’s appeal, look at France’s political elite

He is eager to report on what he learned in Paris in his three week stay – “both on the Climate and the Daesch challenges, the top two contemporary existential threats.” There is much to be said on both topics.

On the outcomes of the Climate Change COP21,  “Paris Agreement”, the prevailing view appears to be that it is a promising start, but After Paris: Now Comes the Hard Part . Earth Day 2016 has been chosen in the decision document as the day for formal signatures to the Paris Agreement. But there are lots of caveats: the most important being that the treaty is only to take effect in 2020 and that is after its ratification by 55 countries, collectively representing 55% of world GHG emissions.
Tony Deutsch offers this assessment:
“My guess is that carbon-based fuels will continue to be used probably for another half-century, until low-cost forms of capturing and storing solar-based energy will displace them. Meanwhile many words and much money will be wasted on pseudo-solutions. It is also safe to predict that many political careers will be made and broken on this issue.” [It may take longer than that if other towns adopt this view US town rejects solar panels amid fears they ‘suck up all the energy from the sun’ — A retired science teacher said she was concerned the panels would prevent plants in the area from growing]
 Elizabeth May sums it up thus:
“ You will undoubtedly hear some denounce the Paris Agreement for what it does not do. It does not respond with sufficient urgency. It does not use the levers available to governments to craft a treaty that is enforceable with trade sanctions to add some teeth. Those criticisms are fair. As trade lawyer Steven Shrybman said more than a decade ago, “If governments cared as much about climate as they do about protecting intellectual property rights, we would have laws that require carbon reduction in every country on earth.”
Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement is an historic and potentially life-saving agreement. It does more than many of us expected when the conference opened on November 30.” Elizabeth May breaks down the historic Paris Agreement

The new Environment & Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna, has earned plaudits for her performance in Paris and Canada has redeemed itself after having earned over the years  the dubious distinction of winning the Fossil of the Day on multiple occasions, Fossil of the Year, and the Lifetime Unachievement Fossil Award from Climate Action Network.

Even more praise has been heaped on Canada for the warm and gracious way that the first Syrian refugees have been welcomed. We are a long way away from the promised 25,000 and we can hardly expect the PM, premiers and other officials to show up for the arrival of  every flight, but Mr. Trudeau’s greeting of the first group has set an international standard that we can only hope will be emulated by other leaders.
“They step off the plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada with social insurance numbers, with health cards and with an opportunity to become full Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“This is something that we are able to do in this country because we define a Canadian not by a skin colour or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share.”
The settlement will not be easy  (The Current on CBC radio has been doing a commendable job of looking at every aspect of the process), but there appears to be a huge reserve of good will and generosity in large and smaller communities across the country.

On Tuesday, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission publishes its final report. There is much to do to redress the effects of harmful government policies –and inaction- of the past and this will be an on-going topic for many months/years to come.
For now, we commend to you Céline Cooper’s column: Reconciliation with First Nations should be a national priority   “at minimum — reconciliation requires that all Canadians hold a baseline understanding of indigenous history, including contemporary issues, languages and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
As Canadians come to terms with the truths of the residential school era and its harmful legacy, renewing the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples will be one of the most important commitments the federal government can make both now and in the foreseeable future. We are all on this journey together.”

Mackay Smith will be with us, introducing his newly published book “Montreal’s Golden Square Mile”  . The reviews are excellent and judging by his previous books on McGill and Sherbrooke Street, the photographs will be a joy.

Just possibly  -weather permitting- we may enjoy a return visit from Andrew Caddell, this time with copies of his charming book The Goal: Stories About Our National Passion.

Another Republican debate on Tuesday. This one, in Las Vegas, is the last for 2015 (sigh of relief) and will likely feature a major attack on  Ted Cruz by The Donald. No doubt there will be discussion (if that is the right word) of  Trump’s comments last week calling for a ban on Muslims entering the US, from which he has not backed down. Sadly,  the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows him still  leading the field with support of 35% of Republican voters.

Saudi Arabia is in the news for several reasons. First is the announcement of the 34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism spearheaded by the Saudis. Not much detail given and the world will wait to see  just what kind of terrorism is targeted. Then there were the municipal elections, in which women were allowed to vote for the first time. According to official figures, 130,000 women registered to vote in Saturday’s poll, compared with 1.35 million men. Female candidates had to speak from behind a partition while campaigning or be represented by a man. Nonetheless at least 19 women were elected.  It may seem a pathetic advance, but at least it is an advance. Neither of these developments is of any help or consolation to blogger Raif Badawi who will not be picking up his Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought prize on Wednesday. Finally, you may have missed this story about Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallström, who has said that in view of the Saudi position on sharia, women’s rights and the persecution of Badawi,  it was unethical for Sweden to continue with its military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia. She obviously has far more principles than her male counterparts.

While the BBC (Russia, Turkey and a tit-for-tat tale) details a number of events in what CBC terms That other war in the Middle East (very good analysis piece by Brian Stewart),  strangely it does not highlight the possibility that multi-billion dollar energy projects like pipelines and nuclear reactors could be axed  Russia, Turkey Fight Spreads to Energy Sector

Shifting focus to Asia, our friend C. Uday Bhaskar is enthusiastic about  Shinzo Abe’s Visit to India: Emerging Strategic Resolve
The joint statement released by India and Japan on December 12, during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to New Delhi, is a remarkable document and exudes a degree of strategic resolve by two of Asia’s most important yet reticent democracies. This kind of assertion in the security and geo-strategic domain is uncharacteristic of Tokyo and Delhi, and may be ascribed to the kind of personal political determination that the two principals – Mr Abe and Indian PM Narendra Modi bring to the bi-lateral table.
And Cleo Paskal writes:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy has shown a remarkable deftness of action and cohesion of vision. As a result, the last eighteen months have marked one of the fastest changes in the international profile of a major state in recent years. Whatever the outcome, it is worth taking a closer look at some of the elements that have catapulted India back to the center of global affairs. These lessons learned have relevance for anyone in management.See more at: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Foreign Policy

Varia

Montreal, 1967 from British Pathé’s – First Impressions
Evokes wonderful memories of Expo 67, the magical high point of Montreal’s and -for many- Canadian history. Amidst all the celebrations planned for 2017, there is a lamentable absence of anything to mark the 50th anniversary of the incredibly successful international exhibition that put Canada on the map. In hopes that Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal , the Quebec government and above all, the new Liberal government in Ottawa will rectify the oversight.

A delightful video illustrates that Africa is not a country,  it is a continent!

And on a still more cheerful note:

Starting with a single cellist on the floor of the National Air and Space Museum’s “Milestones of Flight” gallery, and swelling to 120 musicians, the U.S. Air Force Band exhilarated museum visitors with its first-ever flash mob

Peter Schiefke M.P. is really taking to his new role as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister for youth – and having fun doing it! Liberal MP buys Star Wars tickets for kids Of course, this is a natural, given the PM’s early enthusiasm for Star Wars

We hope that you will be able to join us so that we may wish you in person a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and/or other seasonal wishes of joy and good fortune [see Politically correct holiday greetings dampen writer’s Christmas spirit]  Do, please let us know if you will be with us – and which greeting you would prefer.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1763"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson February 8, 2016 at 1:20 am · Reply

    Follow-up: Wayne Larsen spent some time chatting with MacKay Smith about his new book.
    He has published this very nice review on Westmount Magazine
    Revisiting Montreal’s Age of Opulence
    MacKay Smith pens an elegant tribute to our Golden Square Mile neighbourhood
    http://www.westmountmag.ca/golden-square-mile/

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