Wednesday Night #2153

Written by  //  July 21, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Heather Cox Richardson and her Letters from an American. As the recent profile published in the Financial Times is accessible only with great difficulty to non-subscribers, I decided to give her her own page on my website. Enjoy!

Canada’s media continue its fixation on the post-pandemic opening of the nation’s borders and other domestic issues (of which there are plenty) including the uproar over the GG-designate’s bilingualism. One does wonder if the powers-that-be decide that fluency in Inuktitut may be considered of equivalent importance to fluency in French – what next? How many indigenous languages will claim equal standing?
Commissioner investigating after complaints pour in about next governor general’s lack of French
Many francophones have questioned why she did not do so during the nearly 20 years she spent working for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Official Languages Commissioner Raymond Théberge said his office recognizes Simon’s “personal qualities, her contribution but the question is: are we setting a precedent for the nomination of senior officials in Canada for years to come?”
“The Official Languages Act applies to federal institutions,” Théberge said, “not to individuals. The investigation will look into the Privy Council Office. It will not look into Mrs. Simon but into the process that led to her nomination.”
While the chattering classes are preoccupied with the forthcoming election (only Politico Canada sees danger signals All the reasons Trudeau should think twice about an election),
The PM is again in trouble with Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion, this time over contracts with a company run by his long-time friend Tom Pitfield. Many insiders have wondered when the situation would be raised seriously, but we don’t expect much to happen.

And, of course, those in Quebec who are not fleeing to country homes and camps, are rightly concerned by Bill 96.
Julius Grey in Tuesday’s Gazette Opposition to Bill 96 “not an identity question, it’s a question of rights”
“Given the weaknesses of the arguments justifying Bill 96 and its impotence in protecting and promoting French, Grey concludes it should be abandoned entirely. … The respected human rights lawyer laments what he calls the “pensée unique” that has taken hold surrounding the Quebec government’s latest attempts to strengthen the language laws. Bill 96 has been greeted as necessary by most of Quebec society to shore up faltering French. Federal leaders who might once have been counted upon to defend sacrosanct principles are too busy pandering for votes in Quebec on the eve of an election.”

Meanwhile, in Tuesday’s breaking news, Mark Carney says climate commitments preclude running in fall election …says he’s made a commitment to help organize the private financial sector in the run-up to the United Nations climate conference, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. Carney says he can’t walk away from that commitment at such a crucial moment. On Wednesday, CBC Radio’s The Current revisited his interview from March about his book Value(s): Building a Better World For All, and ideas about how Canada can come out of the COVID-19 crisis in better shape.
We would appreciate comments or reviews from anyone who has actually read the book.

Is there anything going on in the rest of the world? How quickly the news cycle moved on to rinse and spin.
The UK-EU dispute over the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol raises barely an eyebrow; the plight of Afghans seeking refuge from the turmoil in their country? Nope, aside from the always outward looking Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas Afghanistan – end-game? and Biden’s first 6 months
Myanmar, once high on our list of concerns? – Nothing. Please see Myanmar/Burma January 2020– for recent messages from Bob Rae and a Sauvé alumna.
The Two Michaels? Nada for over a month and that was U.S., China discuss detention of Canadian citizens, including 2 Michaels
Canada has traditionally been woefully neglectful of the Western Hemisphere cousins, except for Haiti.
Is anyone paying attention to the unprecedented popular demonstrations in Cuba?
Thousands of people took to the streets of cities and towns throughout Cuba ten days ago, in the communist country’s first major protests in decades. Reacting to Cuba’s deepening economic malaise and sluggish vaccination drive, the demonstrators also voiced an anti-government sentiment rarely heard in a country where the state tightly and aggressively controls the terms of political discourse (more)
Andrew Caddell‘s Hill Times column this week “Canada should support Cuba’s transition to democracy”  agrees with Adam Zivo that Cuba’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters has been an ugly reminder of the dictatorship’s moral bankruptcy.  Andrew concludes: Canada, as a great democracy, should work night and day to assist Cuba in making the transition from autocracy to democracy. If the prime minister acts as an impediment to this process, he has lost the moral right to govern.
And what about the espionage story of the year – Pegasus? At least, As It Happens gave airtime to Azerbaijani Khadija Ismayilova who was among hundreds of reporters, activists and dissidents targeted by the Israeli-made malware.
Africa? No, not really.

BUT we do have lots of time and interest for the flights of the Billionaires (a musical piece due?). Good thing/bad thing?

The official opening of the Tokyo Olympics is this Friday amidst a wealth of bad feeling. While feeling sorry for the athletes who have already suffered from the postponement of the 2020 Games, it is hard not to agree with Scott Stinson: Tokyo is a disaster. Why would anyone want the Olympics after this?The idea that the IOC was doing this for anyone other than themselves has been proven utterly false by the events of Tokyo 2020

Pandemic & travel restrictions
Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens can enter Canada Aug. 9, other travellers Sept. 7
Good news for families and friends who have been separated for so long, as well as for late summer and early fall tourism
What about reciprocity? Not so clear: U.S. border to remain closed until at least Aug. 21 as explained in Rules for entering the U.S. remain unchanged. We are sure that President Biden was relieved by Mr. Trudeau’s reassurance that “Canada is not going to any more dictate what the U.S. should be doing around its border policy than we would accept the U.S. to dictate to us around our border policy.”
And now this::
Border reopening plan facing roadblock as thousands of border officials consider strike action
While a number of CBSA officers would be deemed essential workers, a strike could cause massive delays for those travelling by air and land.
Also bear in mind:
Travelling to or within Canada? The rules have changed.

Globe & Mail editorial Don’t want to get vaccinated? Maybe you need to find another line of work
Consider: “Quebec’s unvaccinated health care workers must take a COVID-19 test three times a week; taxpayers pick up the tab, of course. But if testing isn’t available in their workplace, these workers are given paid time off to travel to and from a testing site. Radio-Canada reports that as a result, some are being paid hundreds of dollars extra each week.”

Josh Freed: Medical advice was flip-flopping long before COVID
Here are just some of the rules that have changed with the times, from cold hair to hot chicken soup.
Chicken noodle soup cures everything. For millenniums this magic potion cured anything from colds to cancer, but it’s fallen from scientific favour, as studies show no proven benefits.
Bah, humbug! If you actually believe in its curative powers, chicken soup is a great placebo — and placebos work from 15 to 72 per cent of the time, better than many drugs at the pharmacy.

Thank you, Martin Mueller-Judson, for Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Bitcoin, Currencies, and Fragility. Add to it Eswar Prasad‘s op-ed piece for the NYT -republished by Brookings The brutal truth about Bitcoin While Bitcoin’s roller-coaster prices garner attention, of far more consequence is the revolution in money and finance it has set off that will ultimately affect every one of us, for better and worse.. Finally, check out A death in Cryptoland about Gerald Cotten – better than most Netflix offerings.

Long reads
In her 19 July Letter from an American, Heather Cox Richardson examines the ramifications of Brian Kilmeade’s statement that the government has no role in protecting the population. “That’s not their job. It’s not their job to protect anybody”.
Dr. Cox responds:
It is, of course, literally the job of the government to protect us. The preamble to the Constitution reads: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Question: leaving aside the total absence of elegant language in the Canadian Constitution – does it state explicitly anywhere the same obligation to protect its citizens? Or is that obligation implicit in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

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