Wednesday Night #1893

Written by  //  June 20, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

We are absolutely delighted that our dear friend and prolific author, Alan Hustak will be with us again.
Since he was last at WN, he has published two books:
Magnetic North: The Unauthorized Biography of Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Selfie PM, published by the UK-based Eyewear Publishing, traces Trudeau’s remarkable rise to power and attempts to deconstruct the carefully crafted media persona.
“The publishers had the idea that since I had covered Justin’s father back in the 60s as a Canadian television reporter with the CTV network, that I was probably better placed than most people to judge Justin vs. his father,” Hustak said in a telephone interview from Saskatchewan. Unauthorized biography of Justin Trudeau seeks to understand Canada’s selfie prime minister  See also Amazon.ca
Less controversial – and more useful  to all those who are not political junkies is Exploring Montreal’s Underground City  – a timely title now that Montreal Aboveground is impassable – and then, there is Camilien-HoudeNow if only Alan could write a guide to Montreal Under Construction.

We would also draw to your attention Alan’s tribute to David (which the local media did not see fit to publish – their loss!).

Naturally, there will be related topics on the menu including the currently  fraught Canada-US relationship  and NAFTA negotiations with vigorously defended opinions about whether Canada should scrap or preserve supply management.  See the very informative: How Canada’s supply management system worksIt’s been blamed for inflating food prices – but a lot of American producers wish they had something like it, or, if you prefer, Maxime Bernier’s statement, Phase out Supply Management
George Monbiot’s latest column (Donald Trump was right. The rest of the G7 were wrongIn arguing for a sunset clause to the Nafta trade agreement, this odious man is exposing the corruption of liberal democracy) has provoked strong emotions and discussion. He argues that “ Provisions that made sense to the negotiators in the early 1990s make no sense to anyone today, except fossil fuel companies and greedy lawyers. The most obvious example is the way its rules for investor-state dispute settlement have been interpreted. These clauses (chapter 11 of the treaty) were supposed to prevent states from unfairly expropriating the assets of foreign companies. But they have spawned a new industry, in which aggressive lawyers discover ever more lucrative means of overriding democracy.”  We urge you to read it and form your own opinion

Following the somewhat hapless G7 meeting, there have been a number of calls for rethinking the whole idea of summits. It is not often that we agree with Conrad Black, but it’s hard to disagree with his view that “There are far too many of these “summits,” far too undistinguishedly attended, expensive to organize.  … Canada spent $400 million on three days of photo-ops at La Malbaie, to achieve practically nothing.” John Sinclair argues for a reformed, enhanced Group of Twenty (G20) … that  “is more geopolitically inclusive and represents a significantly larger share of the world economy. … A shift to the G20 would mean leadership would be held by a much broader-based, hence more legitimate, group, one where G7 and BRICS countries are already present, but within a structure in which no one country, not even the US, is dominant.” ( Has the G7 lost its mojo? )
Our friend Uday Bhaskar, lends his voice to the discussion in Surfeit of summits amid global disorder and dismay, writing:
“The G-7 is at the heart of the post-World War II liberal international economic (LIEO) and over the last seven decades, this framework, while advancing and protecting US-led western primacy, has seen the consolidation of the democratic dispensation and the nurturing of free-trade and globalization. Paradoxically, emerging economies like China and India also benefited from this global structure and the US-led western alliance that includes Japan was seen as the core. That core is now in dire distress and a dismayed global community is trying to take stock of the implications of this tectonic lurch, wherein America with Trump at the helm is threatening to go it alone.” He continues: “Juxtaposed between the G-7 and Singapore was a more sedate SCO summit in China which brought together the leaders of China, Russia and India along with four Central Asian states and Pakistan. While the focus was counter-terrorism and combating radical, religious extremism, the anomalous sub-text was the consensus that prevailed with the Chinese President extolling the virtues of globalization and free trade.”

Media reaction (excepting, of course Fox News et al.) to the Trump-Kim meeting (Singapore Summit) has been generally skeptical, as summarized by Richard N. Haass in his piece for Project Syndicate,  The Singapore Summit’s Uncertain Legacy . Wednesday Night’s two Davids published their respective views on Monday. Examining the Entrails of the Singapore Summit by David Jones  concludes “Essentially, the Singapore Summit is just the end of the beginning and may conclude well—or badly.” David Kilgour is less sanguine in  Singapore and a Safer World, concluding (as have a number of other commentators): “Kim Jong-un out-manoeuvred Donald Trump in Singapore.

Attention is  again focused on the Trump administration immigration policy and the separation of minors from their families. As more and more heart-rending accounts and pictures of the children are published, a groundswell of public opinion, including voices from the Right, condemns the actions of ICE as directed by bible-thumping, mis-quoting AG Jeff Sessions while members of the administration continue to struggle with how to talk about it – alternating between defending the initiative as a necessary deterrent, distancing themselves, blaming Democrats, trying to use it as leverage for negotiations with Congress or denying that it exists at all. (Trump team cannot get its story straight on separating migrant families.
Adding to the increasingly horrendous moves by the Administration comes the news that “Trump aides plan fresh immigration crackdowns before midterms”: “Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and a team of officials from the Justice Department, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget have been quietly meeting for months to find ways to use executive authority and under-the-radar rule changes to strengthen hardline U.S. immigration policies… .”

Thank you to Ron Meisels for calling to our attention the New Yorker article What Happens When a Bad-Tempered, Distractible Doofus Runs an Empire? which draws some frightening parallels between Kaiser Wilhelm and the current occupant of the White House. We invite you to reflect on this paragraph:
The Kaiser wasn’t singly responsible for the First World War, but his actions and choices helped to bring it on. If international conflict is around the corner, it would seem that you really don’t want a narcissist in control of a global power. Wilhelm’s touchiness, his unpredictability, his need to be acknowledged: these things struck a chord with elements in Germany, which was in a kind of adolescent spasm—quick to perceive slights, excited by the idea of flexing its muscles, filled with a sense of entitlement. At the same time, Wilhelm’s posturing raised tensions in Europe. His clumsy personal diplomacy created suspicion. His alliance with the vitriolic right and his slavish admiration for the Army inched the country closer and closer to war. Once the war was actually upon him, the government and military effectively swept the Kaiser aside. And the gravest damage occurred only after Wilhelm abdicated, in November of 1918. (He spent the rest of his life—he survived until 1941—in central Holland.) The defeated Germany sank into years of depression, resentments sharpened, the toxic lie that Germany had been “robbed” of its rightful victory in the war took hold. The rest, as they say, is history.

Varia

With all that is being written about machines replacing humans, MIT Professor Thomas Malone suggests a far more positive view in his new book “Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together
This long review (How Human-Computer ‘Superminds’ Are Redefining the Future of Work ) summarizes his thinking and merits being read carefully, whether or not you plan to buy the book.

Another must-read: The Atlantic’s examination of how Fred Rogers  insisted that every word, whether spoken by a person or a puppet, be scrutinized closely, because he knew that children—the preschool-age boys and girls who made up the core of his audience—tend to hear things literally.  Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children

We wish that more people would apply the same care to what they write, especially on social media. We have recently witnessed a deeply disturbing exchange on Facebook that sickened us – in this case it was the Right attacking all opinions they perceived as being ‘socialist’ with ad hominem comments addressed to individuals about whom they know nothing. The vitriol would have been at home on Fox News or Breitbart – and these were nice Canadians on a thread started by a good friend with whom we do not always agree politically, but with whom we have always been able to resolve our differences with civility and humour. Marshall arguments, backed up by facts.  Grant points that are well made. Attack a policy, not a politician or individual.  Or, if attacking a politician, do so on the grounds of his or her actions.  Above all, let us try to understand the other’s viewpoint without resorting to crude name calling that doesn’t even belong in schoolyards. It’s okay to be a belligerent; not okay to be a bully. Above all, let us try to remember that there is always something to learn.
That is what we will continue to strive to do on Wednesday Night, with your help.

As Quebec’s October election looms,  Don  Macpherson’s graceful tribute to Geoff Kelly and the many MNAs of all political hues who make personal sacrifices in return for longer hours, less pay and more abuse than they would get in the private sector is a timely reminder that  most go into politics because they sincerely want to serve the public. And to do it, they sacrifice their personal lives, and sometimes their health and relationships:An appreciation of my friend Geoff, and other politicians

FIFA World Cup
Unlike many Wednesday Nighters, we are not avid fans of soccer and especially not of scandal-plagued FIFA, but we simply love this story:
Mexico fans set off earthquake sensors celebrating seismic World Cup win — Supporters in Mexico City watching Germany game cause two ‘artificial’ quakes during their team’s surprise win. Now that’s real enthusiasm!
Meanwhile, last week there was general rejoicing over the prospect of Montreal being one  of the Canadian host cities  of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, however it seems that there is some quiet resistance from citizens who are concerned about costs to the taxpayer. One might also add that it would be nice to think that Montreal’s interminable construction might be finished by then.

Be warned – and stock up early: SAQ employees could be on strike before Fête nationale
5,500 employees from 400 locations across Quebec will vote on a six-day strike mandate on that could begin as early as Saturday – They certainly know how to time their strike.

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