Wednesday Night #1936

Written by  //  April 24, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Hoping that all have enjoyed a Happy Easter/Passover and the first signs of Spring, we are delighted to congratulate Elizabeth May and her husband John Kidder on their marriage on Monday – Earth Day – in Victoria. Elizabeth had said that the best wedding present she could receive would be a Green Minority in PEI and her wish has been granted. PC minority, Green Opposition will be ‘a new era in Island politics’, an historic first for Canada.
For the Greens, it was a victory marred by the tragic death of Green candidate Josh Underhay in a canoeing accident last Friday along with his young son. A byelection will be held in that riding at a later date.

The horrific Easter bombing in Sri Lanka has been claimed by ISIS and, according to The Guardian, “One emerging theory among western and south Asian security officials was that Sri Lankans who had fought for Isis in Syria or Iraq may have been “connectors” linking extremists in their home country with experienced terrorists elsewhere. Analysts have repeatedly stressed that Isis continues to retain the ability to motivate recruits and attract new members, despite the destruction of its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq.”
There is disgusting evidence of political dysfunction at the highest levels, warnings ignored or not conveyed to the appropriate authorities; recriminations have started and no doubt will continue for some time.
UPDATE: (Reuters) Picture emerges of well-to-do young bombers behind Sri Lankan carnage It has also exposed a significant Sri Lankan intelligence failure, with warnings of strikes not acted on and feuds at the highest levels of government.
The Guardian profiles of a number of the victims is hard to read – people of such diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, holidayers, workers,  families, children – a terrible reminder of the randomness of fate. Marc (Nicholson) writes that  “the news of Sri Lanka hit us hard. You may have heard the story of Ben Nicholson. He lost his wife and 2 kids in the blast at the Shangri-La. He’s a good friend of mine – we’ve been playing squash here for years. He’s one of the world’s nicest guys. It’s just horrific.”

Which makes most of our concerns petty in comparison.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been elected President of Ukraine in an overwhelming victory. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy led a delegation of 160 Canadian observers, of which Helen Fotopulos was one. Mr. Axworthy noted that “every report we got was that the election was clean. It was open. The ballots were there. No interference.” However he also sounded a warning based on the Russian influence he witnessed during the election campaign. “This whole increasing ability to build a cyber system to change people’s minds, to foment disruptions, is so powerful and and as one of the Ukrainian security people told me today, they’ve had five years of it. And by the way, they [Ukrainians] were quite successful in the second round of elections in being able to suppress a lot of that because they had a preventative system. They’ve worked on their technology. They’ve worked on training their election people. But there’s no question that the agenda of Putin is to provide disruption where he goes. … we have an election in six months, and let’s not kid ourselves — the Russians are going to be involved. It’s a question of how well we’re able to counteract that.”

Disinformation is not limited to Russia as evidenced by the fake letter of congratulation from the PM to a group promoting ties between Tibet and China.

Distressing news that Myanmar’s top court has rejected final appeal by jailed Reuters journalists. Their last hope is for a pardon from Myanmar President Win Myint, but while he pardoned more than 9,000 prisoners during a mass amnesty to mark the traditional Burmese New Year in mid-April, rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said among them were just two of dozens of political prisoners.

As the endless Brexit saga continues (MPs may vote on key Brexit legislation next week – Theresa May considers tabling withdrawal and implementation bill in next 10 days) insult is added to injury in the guise of the announcement that Donald Trump is to make a three-day state visit to the UK from 3 to 5 June. MPs are campaigning to have it cancelled, but we’re not sure how that would work.

With the release of the (redacted) Mueller Report last Thursday,  the battle lines were drawn (and redrawn and redrawn) , with the principal division over whether or not to move toward impeachment. Meanwhile, after Trump’s gleeful crowing that he had been exonerated, the White House made it clear that it plans to broadly defy requests for information from Capitol Hill, moving the two branches of government closer to a constitutional collision. The Atlantic provides a succinct summary:
Now that the Mueller report is out, what happens next? Some Democrats are making full-throated calls for immediate impeachment hearings, while others are shrinking away from the idea. But for the most part, House Democrats are calling for three things: the full, unredacted report, congressional testimonies by Attorney General William Barr and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and more investigations in the House. President Donald Trump’s defenders are also calling for an investigation … into the origins of the Mueller probe, thinking it could perk up the president’s base heading into 2020. But J. W. Verret, a former Trump transition staffer, argues that the Mueller report is the tipping point that makes impeachment necessary.

Coming full circle, back to Canada.

“When Voltaire wrote that perfection is the enemy of the good, he was surely speaking of Rachel Notley and the environmentalists.” Andrew Cohen writes.  In  Canada’s environmentalists, feminists must stop demanding political perfection he points out that “In Alberta, the environmentalists went after the New Democrats who imposed a carbon tax, promised to phase out coal and wanted to expand a pipeline broadly supported by Indigenous Peoples. As Tristin Hopper writes in The National Post, this brought lawsuits, street protests and threats from the government of British Columbia. And what did that yield? Why, the defeat of the New Democrats and the election of the Conservatives, who will repeal said carbon tax.”

As we contemplate one of the rites of Spring: Quebec remains on flood alert with rain in forecast, we must agree with François Legault that it might be necessary to force people in flood zones to move away to avoid taxpayers having to constantly pay to repair their homes. It simply does not make sense to continue to bail out (sorry!) the home owners who live on the flood plains. And we need to be creative about devising buffer zones of vegetation and green spaces along the river banks.

Events:
Final Reminder
25 April 2019 from 5:00 PM to 7:00
America Where Art Thou? – A discussion with US Senator Paul Strauss – Making sense of the impact of current US politics on US-Canadian relations and international relations

24-25 April
Who knew that Canada is hosting an international summit to accelerate nature protection in Montreal this week? Some people must have known as Global Affairs says the event is overbooked, but it is very hard to find out anything about what should have been a prestigious event.
We wonder if the participants will discuss Conservation agriculture (CA) whereby Farmers across the world are ditching their ploughs to protect ecosystems

16-17 May
B/OLD : Aging in our city is a free, bilingual event  at Concordia University – From ‘age friendly cities’, to ‘smart cities’ and ‘sustainable cities’, how we live together in urban spaces is on the public agenda, in Montreal and around the world. But who are the citizens that are imagined and implied by these terms? How can we work together to make the city a better and more inclusive place to grow old?

Good reads
Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron
We can save our broken economic system from itself.
By Joseph E. Stiglitz

Aging and in need of attention: America’s infrastructure and its 17 million workers
Just as our physical infrastructure systems are aging and in need of attention, so too are the workers who design, construct, operate, and oversee these systems. In other words, these workers are not only constructing projects in the short-term, but maintaining all types of facilities in the long-term—from ports and power plants to railroads and waterways. The problem is that many of them are nearing or are eligible for retirement, and there is not a strong training pipeline to educate and equip a new generation of talent with the skills they need.

The coming showdown over government reform
How the dismantlers and rebuilders will shape the 2020 election

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