Wednesday Night #1975

Written by  //  January 22, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Happy New Year to all who celebrate Chinese (Lunar) New Year this Saturday, 25 January. Although known as the Year of the Rat, we prefer the designation of Year of the Mouse.

Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne is proving to be an adept and determined successor to Chrystia Freeland in his handling of the Flight 752 dossier as he pursues justice for the victims, rejecting Iran’s position that dual nationals on downed Flight 752 are Iranian citizens only, vowing to continue to fight for a thorough investigation into the tragedy and for compensation for the families of the Canadian victims, and pressing Iran to release the black boxes. He now must keep a wary eye on the Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing while at the same time preparing to appear before the new special parliamentary committee created to examine Canada’s fraught relationship with China that will address the plight of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, whose arrest and imprisonment is widely viewed as retaliation for the detention of Meng Wanzhou. Further complications arise over the Huawei 5G decision.
Colin Robertson’s long analysis Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: A Foreign Policy Assessment 2015-2019 is good background.

At least Minister Champagne does not have to deal with the Harry & Meghan situation. Trudeau says he hasn’t spoken to the Queen about Prince Harry and Meghan moving to Canada — and there’s no agreement between Canada and the U.K. on how to pay for the security costs after Harry arrives in Canada (a bit late now, since Harry has arrived on Vancouver Island). Does this mean Canada was not consulted or only that Trudeau has not spoken with the Queen? We think the latter is more likely.

Meanwhile, Greg Donaghy and Thomas Axworthy deplore that “we can no longer count on our great-power ally to the south to have our back. Republican President Donald Trump is certainly part of the problem. Impetuous and iconoclastic, he is deeply ignorant of Canada-U.S. relations – and couldn’t care less. But the shift is more deeply rooted and more troubling. Since the end of the Cold War, a school of increasingly influential U.S. intellectuals and policy makers has championed the notion of America First, disdainful of the very idea of valued allies. There are grounds for worrying that U.S. trade policy, which historian Douglas Irwin has shown to be subject to long, slow swings between open and protected markets, is about to change significantly – and not to our benefit.”

At last Thursday’s opening of the Impeachment trial, the House impeachment managers filed a 46-page trial memorandum, and additional 60-page statement of facts, to which the White House responded with  a six-page filing. But the news that provoked the most intense debate was that the Trump legal team would include Alan Dershowitz, along with Kenneth Starr. Reactions ranged from Dershowitz and Starr may bring a slightly more reality-based Trump defense to Trump Just Hired Jeffrey Epstein’s Lawyers. Adding to the mix, on Saturday, The Guardian published Alan Dershowitz: Trump impeachment acquittal would make me unhappy.

The 2020 Davos annual meeting of the World Economic Forum opened on Tuesday under the theme of Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World, with a focus on renewing the concept of stakeholder capitalism to overcome income inequality, societal division and the climate crisis.
The Telegraph reports that Trudeau will be skipping the event again, instead sending three cabinet ministers. The unofficial 72-member Canadian delegation includes many familiar private-sector faces … as well as the recently installed heads of two major Canadian institutional investors: Jo Taylor of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Investissement Québec’s Guy LeBlanc.
The stars on Tuesday were  Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump, whose speech celebrated the country’s economic achievements, while denigrating climate ‘prophets of doom’ (and did not mention impeachment). Trump later told reporters: “I’m a very big believer in the environment. I want the cleanest water and the cleanest air”.

Piteous photos and stories about Australia‘s damaged and displaced koalas, kangaroos and other wildlife continue to populate the internet, but now, the weather has served up a new disaster as welcome clouds and rain blanketed the country’s southeast. Not so welcome: giant hailstones as large as baseballs, wind gusts topping 70 miles per hour. In some areas, an inch of rain fell in just 30 minutes. A few places experienced flash flooding. Thousands of people were left without power.

The New York Times editorial board’s surprising endorsement of TWO candidates, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, is a long thoughtful piece that all should read and ponder: The Democrats’ Best Choices for President. Many will disagree and there is still a long way to go before the Convention. At this time, the campaign for the February 3rd Iowa caucuses is frantic and the outcome totally unpredictable Two weeks out from the Iowa caucus, it’s an unprecedented four-way deadlock. Ready, set, go!

Last Wednesday’s announcement of major constitutional changes for Russia has given rise to numerous analyses. We recommend Gwynne Dyer’s Putin bids for post-retirement influence but not for immortality. In Planning for a (Not-So) Post-Putin Russia, the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Andrei Kolesnikov warns “Of the constitutional reforms put forward by Putin, what will really change a lot is the proposal to give the Russian constitution—including repressive Russian legislation—priority over international law. This violation of the usual hierarchy is nothing short of a legal revolution.”

Linda McQuaig on how privatization is impoverishing the public in Canada
(CBC Radio The Sunday Edition) In her latest book, The Sport and Prey of Capitalists: How the Rich Are Stealing Canada’s Public Wealth, McQuaig argues that Canada was built by massive public investment in railways, energy, medicare and public spaces — and that in the last 25 years, governments have been on a privatization crusade.
“I’m trying to make Canadians aware of this wonderful history we have. The United States excels at private enterprise. We excel at public enterprise. But we don’t know those stories,” she told The Sunday Edition’s Michael Enright.
Contrary to prevailing political and economic opinion, McQuaig believes Canada should be expanding — not shrinking — publicly-funded projects.  Do listen to the interview – she makes a very strong case.

It is hard to keep track of all the special days in the calendar. Last Friday, 17 January, was Raoul Wallenberg Day saluted by Irwin Cotler in Seeking justice for Raoul Wallenberg, the disappeared hero of the Holocaust While Wallenberg saved so many, he was not himself saved by so many who could have done so, as he vanished into a Soviet Gulag
Since 2001, Canada honors the memory of the Swedish diplomat who saved so many Hungarian Jews, including our OWN Ron Meisels, on 17 January, the date of his disappearance 75 years ago. According to the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, there is some confusion over the designation of an official Day, which, it appears, is up to individual nations. However, on the 17th, the Council of Europe honored the Raoul Wallenberg Prize recipient, Dr. Amani Ballour, the Syrian pediatrician who managed an underground hospital in war zone/ Note, the hospital is the subject of the documentary The Cave, an Oscar nominee.

Long, worthwhile reads
The NYT Magazine feature on Giuliani, The Fog of Rudy Did he change — or did America?  a long and fascinating portrait
Andrew Sullivan’s Our Caesar Can the country come back from Trump? The Republic already looks like Rome in ruins. – disturbing parallels
Iran’s leaders have a problem they can’t fix By Suzanne Maloney

Rob Galbraith recently posted this wonderful profile of his friend Quebec City archaeologist, René Lévesque. So glad that Rob now has such a comprehensive website (http://www.robertgalbraith.com/) where one can view -and purchase- his amazing pictures.

Varia
We are disappointed that Jean Charest has decided not to run for the Conservative Leadership. But that avoids a vote-splitting contest with Peter Mackay which could have allowed the odious Pierre Poilievre to slip through the middle.
Paul Wells reported that Stephen Harper resigned from the Conservative Fund board to free himself to block Charest; the column details some of the disarray and nastiness that is rampant in the party.
Oldie, but goodie
Joan Baez Goes Viral With ‘Nasty Man,’ a Protest Song for the Trump Era
The song, which Baez described to Rolling Stone as “not a good song, but it will make people laugh,” should be the anthem for the 2020 elections.
Nostalgia from The Gazette
History Through Our Eyes: March 23, 1985, where Montreal wheels, deals
Len Sidaway’s image of maître d’hôtel Mario Bricoli illustrated a story about the places where the city’s high rollers gathered.
Mario and Maitre d’ Jean-Guy presided over David’s and my courtship at the Maritime Bar (inexplicably not mentioned), favorite hangout of stock brokers, especially those from Greenshields led by the legendary Lord Hardinge, and often prominent figures from the arts, including Mordecai and Florence Richler.
David and Mario joined forces to raid the Ritz kitchen for a surprise at-home brunch for me. I still have the Ritz ice bucket from that day.
Did you ever wonder how to transport a sloth?
How to move a penguin and other lessons from the Biodôme reno – Good news that the Biodôme is scheduled to reopen this Spring.

A MUST for grammar nerds
Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell, Reimagined for Linguistic Transgressions
First Circle (Limbo): Autocorrect
Here wander the otherwise virtuous souls who were forced into grievous errors by autocorrect programs.

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