Wednesday Night #1764

Written by  //  December 23, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Christmas tree decorations 2015Our traditional just-before-Christmas Wednesday Night is doubly celebratory as we will have our Singapore family with us. They arrive, possibly somewhat jet-lagged, from Hawaii via LA late Wednesday afternoon and will be with us until the 28th.

Despite depressing news from many parts of the world, there is cause to celebrate.

For most of us, the majority Liberal government represents a happy change – and for some, a happy surprise. To our disappointed Conservative and NDP friends, we can only offer the unfamiliar prospect of consultative and collaborative government with hope of a constructive Loyal Opposition. Plus a PM who considers relationships with the provinces so important that he has reserved the portfolio for himself. Former rivals Mélanie Joly and Denis Coderre are setting a good example that bodes well for Montreal: when they met on Monday, they spoke of a “new era of collaboration” between their respective governments —and themselves.
We add that we applaud Minister Joly’s announcement that it’s back to the drawing board — and a less controversial location for the (awful) Ottawa memorial to victims of communism.

While there has been world-wide coverage of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change – even if it is only the first step on a very long road ahead – there has been relative silence about the more recently concluded Nairobi Package from the WTO – ministerial decisions designed to specifically benefit Africa and the poorest members of the Organization.

The response of our new government to the Syrian refugee crisis has been heartwarming and Prime Minister Trudeau certainly owns the issue.  However, even as Minister John McCallum announces that the numbers of accepted refugees could rise to 50,000 by the end of next year, and  before we become smug, let us reflect on the plight of the tens of thousands who wait hopelessly in camps, many of whom only want to go home to their battered country and partake in rebuilding their lives there. Furthermore, as Canadian Council of Refugees Executive Director Janet Dench reminds us all ‘Beyond the Syrian refugees’: Canadians urged to help others too,  there are many refugee claimants from other parts of the world who wonder “what about me?”

As Donald Trump appears to maintain his momentum in the Republican race, do we need to consider what to do with all our American friends who claim asylum if he wins? Will you sponsor a refugee family from New England? Occasional Wednesday Nighter, Dr. Charles Cogan, is pretty sure we won’t be faced with that situation as he writes in his most recent post The Default Candidate that America should “sit back and get prepared to accept a pretty smart woman as your next President.” We are not crazy about Hillary Clinton, but given the alternatives …

You will have noticed that we rarely cite sports stories, however cannot resist a (gleeful) nod to the news that FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA boss Michel Platini have been suspended for eight years from all football-related activities following  a FIFA ethics committee  investigation.

Are we any closer to solving the Syrian crisis?  The UN seems hopeful.
The United Nations Security Council on Friday voted 15-0 to approve a plan to bring peace to Syria. The plan calls for assembling a transitional government within half a year as well as a new constitution and democratic elections within 18 months, The Guardian (London) (12/19), Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (12/18)

Have you – or will you – joined the stampede to see the much-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens [warning – total spoiler alert]?  Whether you are resolutely glued to the plethora of reviews and analyses, or equally resolutely avoiding all mention of the latest episode, The Economist’s “exhaustive, popcorn-fuelled examination of the first six episodes of the saga, in search of broad economic lessons” [Wookienomics — Like the Force, economics binds the galaxy together] entertains and informs (although some references may mystify the non-initiates to the Star Wars cult).
“The ‘Star Wars’ galaxy is both technologically advanced and economically stagnant, plagued by inequality and ossified political institutions. It is not entirely alien, in other words. Though far, far away, it offers three important lessons for residents of the Milky Way.” And “the first is the value of trade: the freer the better.”  Don’t overlook the link to “It’s a trap: Emperor Palpatine’s poison pill“.
Can’t wait for BCA’s Peter Berezin  and/or Marko Papic to weigh in.

There will be much more discussion of these and other items in next Wednesday’s lead-up to the New Year, and for weeks afterwards.

Meanwhile, as our ears are assaulted by the Good, the Bad and the Truly Ugly Christmas music, we are compelled to share this creative antidote http://damnbored.tv/silent-monks-onstage-performance/

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