Wednesday Night #1922

Written by  //  January 16, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1922

We were deeply saddened by the news that long-time Wednesday Nighter Dr. André Pasternac has died – another who will join the ranks of WN-in-the-sky.

An eventful – and event-full – week. We will go with The Atlantic headline Mayday as the news of Theresa May’s Brexit defeat dominates the headlines and will keep the commentariat well nourished for weeks to come.

One result of this ‘historic’ defeat is that some experts are questioning whether the parliamentary system as it exists will survive.
See: Amid Parliament’s Brexit Rebellion, a Tectonic Shift in How Britain Is Governed
The many tales of British lawmakers once being kept ruthlessly in line stand in stark contrast to the events of the last week, as Prime Minister Theresa May and her lieutenants tried ineffectually to get her party members to support the government’s plan on withdrawing from the European Union, known as Brexit.
The shift worries conservatives like Tim Stanley, a historian and journalist, who says Britain’s system presumes that policies promised in party manifestos will be carried out by the executive. That system confines Parliament’s role to scrutinizing the executive.
Increasing the role of parliamentary backbenchers in shaping policy, Mr. Stanley said, would allow small factions to subvert executive authority, not just on Brexit but on matters like health care and taxation, rendering the British government “effectively rudderless.”
In the weekly CTV Diplomatic community commentary, Jeremy Kinsman addresses this point as does Tom McTague, POLITICO’s chief U.K. correspondent British politics goes over a cliff

In the second half of the Diplomatic community, Jeremy and his colleague Lawrence Haas, American Foreign Policy Council Senior Fellow, turn their attention to the fraught China-U.S.relations with Canada caught in the middle, and in particular, China’s decision on Monday to sentence Canadian citizen Robert Schellenberg to death for drug trafficking. His case is undoubtedly tied to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Dec. 1, as are the cases of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. See While procedural concerns are common in China, Schellenberg’s death sentence is clearly political for a good summary. Relations between Canada and China have deteriorated rapidly (China expresses ‘strong dissatisfaction’ with Trudeau as countries spar) and the PM’s mistaken claim of diplomatic immunity for Michael Kovrig was certainly not helpful.

Brexit and China are not the only bad news topics this week. There is the scandalous on-going government shutdown in the U.S. fuelled by Trump’s obsession with the Border Wall in whatever form. The effects of the shutdown are pervasive from air traffic controllers to  national parks and their neighboring businesses. And now, there are worries that the shutdown will cause a slowing of growth and could raise the risk of recession. Meanwhile, Trump has cancelled his appearance at Davos and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called on Trump to delay his state of the union address. In a letter to Trump, she cited security concerns, noting that both Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are affected by the partial government shutdown. Pelosi said unless the government reopens this week, they should find another date or Trump should deliver the address in writing. [Would that be by Tweet?]
One effect of the shutdown of which we were unaware until very recently is that White House kitchen staff have been furloughed with unpleasant results for the Clemson football team’s celebratory dinner. Seems Mr. Trump had to pay for it himself, so more than a few corners were cut.Yes, in the greater scheme of things, this is minor, but it is indicative of how little he cares about anyone other than himself.
But, there is one good-news item from the White House. You may all be relieved to know that Ivanka Trump is not under consideration for World Bank chief, although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney have asked her to “help manage the U.S. nomination process as she’s worked closely with the World Bank’s leadership for the past two years.”

You will all have no doubt taken note of the Canadian Cabinet shuffle which has generated some mixed reactions. The elevation of David Lametti to the post of Minister of Justice is a source of pride for McGill and Montrealers in general. And there is a WN connection. The new Minister is married to Geneviève Saumier, daughter of our good friend and David’s collaborator on the Paragon Portfolio the late André Saumier, (and cousin of Gregory Saumier Finch). The world keeps shrinking!

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