Wednesday Night #2041 with Peter Berezin

Written by  //  April 28, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2041 with Peter Berezin

April 28 – Expo 67 opened its gates (turnstiles) to the public, the beginning of an unforgettable summer and an experience that would change Montreal in so many ways. Meanwhile April 27 will always be a bittersweet date for me. On the one hand, the anniversary of the Official opening of Expo 67, and on the other, three years ago, we held the amazing celebration of David’s life.

It is always a pleasure to welcome Peter Berezin.
His most recent weekly report highlights the following:
• After staging a tentative rebound in the first three months of the year, the US dollar has resumed its weakening trend.
• We expect the greenback to drift lower over the next 12 months, as global growth momentum rotates from the US to the rest of the world, the Fed maintains its ultra-accommodative monetary stance, and the US struggles to finance its burgeoning trade deficit.
• China will provide adequate fiscal and monetary support for its economy, which will buoy commodity prices, the yuan, and other EM currencies.
• The Canadian dollar should strengthen as the Bank of Canada continues to shrink its balance sheet with the goal of lifting rates by the end of 2022.
• EUR/USD is on track to rise to 1.25 by year-end. The pound will strengthen against the euro.
• While the yen’s defensive nature will limit any gains in the currency, a cheap valuation and relatively high Japanese real rates will keep downside risks in check.

The Canadian Federal Budget: The first federal budget document in two years is enormous — at 739 pages — and staggering in scope. It reveals that, over the past year, Canada ran up a deficit of $354.2 billion and plans to follow that up next year with a reduced deficit of $154.7 billion that is supposed to gradually decline to $30.7 billion in 2025-26, and has stirred up the usual suspects whose views range from ‘necessary steps’ to ‘deplorable’. (See Canada economy 2021) Whatever the sentiments of the commentariat, the latest Ipsos poll reveals that Canadians unmoved by new federal budget as Liberals continue strong support:
Almost all commentary focused on the domestic issues, however, Neil Moss in The Hill Times notes that With an ambitious domestic policy budget, Liberals leave little for foreign affairs

As the news from India goes from bad to worse [India tops 200,000 dead as virus surge breaks health system], we would like to hear from our resident expert, Cleo who has been a steadfast supporter of Modi and India over the past years.

Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas discuss Everybody’s catastrophe: Covid darkness in India  noting that “Covid diplomacy” is constrained by the perception of domestic need
In the final minutes, they turn to the uproar over Bill Gates says no to sharing vaccine formulas with global poor to end pandemic and are in agreement that while his views were poorly expressed, his underlying concerns about production capabilities, quality control, regulation and delivery are unquestionably valid.
This leads to vaccine diplomacy and the dilemma faced by western governments – how to ensure the protection of the domestic population (who will call them to account at the polls), while aiding other nations to combat the pandemic. See The United States can’t ignore China’s vaccine diplomacy in Latin America.

Biden’s 1st 100 Days
28 April is the 99th day since President Biden’s inauguration, and to mark the occasion he returns to Capitol Hill for his first address to a joint session of Congress (9PM EDT). Tradition calls for the vice president and the speaker of the House to appear behind the president when he addresses a joint session of Congress. This year, that will be Vice President Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the first time two women will be in the frame. Biden will also be the first president to deliver the speech in front of a mask-wearing audience. NPR summarizes the many differences with other presidential addresses starting with the limited number of attendees (200 instead of the usual 1600) and including the fact that there is no “designated survivor”.
Here’s What You Need To Know Ahead Of Biden’s Address To A Joint Session Of Congress
Andrew Caddell‘s column this week, The U.S.A. is not ‘the shining city on the hill’, addresses the long, sad history of racism in the U.S. and concludes “We in Canada have work to do as well with our own problems of systemic racism, policing, and social mobility. While many Canadians admire the achievements of our American cousins, we should never want to emulate their dysfunctional society.” Presumably, it will attract less virulent reaction than last week’s column Israel, with all its flaws, deserves Canada’s support which incited charges that he is a Zionist and worse, despite his criticism of Netanyahu’s “persistent machinations to stay in power.”

A thoughtful companion piece to Andrew’s column on America’s racism is Mayor Naheed Nenshi to Canadians: ‘We need to talk’
“Even in 2010, as I was seeing increasing waves of intolerance and hatred globally, I thought, and still think, that the story of Canada serves as a model for the world.
But now, things are different. We are more polarized than ever. Differences, whether political or cultural, are exploited to sow division. And with division, the threat of hatred, radicalization and violence grows.
You need only look to the dialogue around any of our current challenges. Either you believe climate change is real, or you love oil and gas (hint: most us think both are true). Personal freedoms are pitted against public health measures. This black and white, us-versus-them political positioning is not only a barrier to pragmatic solutions, it creates an environment where political disagreements stray outside the acceptable boundaries of debate.
Nowhere is this more obvious than on social media. In 2010, social media helped me, as a little-known academic, reach Calgarians during my first mayoral campaign. Twitter still held the promise of a platform to engage in constructive discourse. Today, social media is an anti-social battleground for unfiltered, post-truth put-downs and provocations. Whether I post about politics or a lost puppy, I can count on receiving vitriolic, racist and personal attacks. … Political life has become increasingly adversarial, confrontational and dangerous.”

The Quebec Covid curfew yo-yo is at it again. While the Grand Prix is cancelled for the second year in a row, the curfew in Montreal and Laval will return to 9:30 p.m. and Montreal Public Health Director Dr. Mylène Drouin, is mildly optimistic. Good news is that 75% of Montrealers aged 60 years and older have now been vaccinated and that average is true for 95% of the city’s boroughs. But we are an awfully long way from Singapore‘s enviable success
Overall Canada is not in great shape; Ontario has finally announced a plan to provide paid sick days (only three and through a temporary program ending in September). Who expected that Quebec’s handling of the pandemic -particularly the vaccination program- would look so good?

Battle lines are being drawn over post-pandemic Montreal development. Rare as it is, we are solidly behind Mayor Plante.
Montreal must not sell its soul to the highest tower
Denis Coderre proposes the construction of taller skyscrapers to bring density, cheaper housing and “world class” status to a humbled city while Mayor Valérie Plante is calling for the densification of downtown to be achieved “in a respectful and planned way” so that Mount Royal can “be admired by everyone.”
This item has not made it to the pages of Bloomberg’s CityLab, one of the particularly interesting Bloomberg offerings (free), presumably because CityLab usually highlights innovative projects and success stories. Check out the 3-part series on how cities and their economies recovered from historic epidemics. On the other hand, there is no hesitation to address troubling issues such as Modi’s Sprawling Delhi Makeover Fuels Anger in Virus-Hit India

We encourage everyone to read Marie Lamensch‘s When Women Are Silenced Online, Democracy Suffers
…social media platforms can also silence and delegitimize women who speak out. Whether in Canada, India and Pakistan, the Philippines, or the United Kingdom and the United States, it is well documented that women, particularly those in positions of leadership or activism, are subject to more online abuse than men. In 2018, a project by Amnesty and Element AI titled “Troll Patrol” found that female politicians and journalists in Britain and the United States are abused on Twitter every 30 seconds.

Doug Sweet may wish to raise his anger over bank fees – specifically:  “Because our bank, TD-Canada Trust, only earned $3.28 billion in the first quarter of this year, a 10-per-cent increase over last year and beyond financial analysts’ expectations, it has naturally found it necessary to raise a number of fees in order to serve us better, including cranking the minimum balance needed for a transaction fee waiver in our chequing account from $2,000 to $5,000.”


This documentary only recently came to our attention. It is of particular interest to me because of a friendship with a Rwandan colleague when I was at the Convention on Biological Diversity. The friend always maintained that Kagame’s hands were far from clean.
Top-secret testimonies implicate Rwanda’s president in war crimes
For years, UN investigators secretly compiled evidence that implicated Rwandan President Paul Kagame and other high-level officials in mass killings before, during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Cuba After the Castros
Sixty years after the Bay of Pigs, the Castro brothers are gone from the main stage, and Cuba is a threadbare place facing an uncertain future.

Trusted journalism: A final note
By Stephen J. Adler
Without a societal consensus on basic facts, is it any wonder—to cite the most obvious tragic example—that so many people have died because of so many falsehoods about Covid-19? I believe there is a way forward, and I’m summing it up as follows: H + T + O = TJ
… where H is humility, T is transparency, O is objectivity, and TJ is trusted journalism. All three factors, H, T and O, should be givens in any profession—not to mention in any human relationship. But in journalism, for many reasons, they’re often absent—and can even be controversial.

Device Developed By The Pentagon To End Pandemics Being Tested In Hospitals Across Europe.
The United States has developed a device that cleans the blood of viruses by 99.7% and is already being tested in hospitals in America and Europe, Spain is due to start trials in two hospitals, it has been announced.
The device helps reduce viral load and buy time to apply other treatments. This filter has been used with the Zika and Ebola viruses and may be key to reducing the strength of SARS-CoV-2
One Vaccine to Rule Them All
What if a single vaccine could protect us against SARS, MERS, COVID-19, and every other coronavirus-related disease, forever and ever?

This neuroscientist wants you to embrace your forgetfulness
Genova is the author of Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting. She says we tend to “villainize” forgetting, but in reality, it’s a normal part of how our brain functions.

After 50 years, The New York Times is retiring the term “op-ed”
In a post announcing the change, opinion editor Katie Kingsbury described the label — a holdover from print newspaper design referring to opinions published on the opposite (“op”) page as editorials (“ed”) — as “clubby newspaper jargon.” (Matthew Cope, how we miss you!)

May 19, 2021
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Canada-EU Relations: Looking Forward Zoom Webinar
8:30 AM – 11:30 AM EDT

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