Wednesday Night #2063

Written by  //  September 29, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

How wonderful to go to sleep last Friday rejoicing in the news that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, aka the Two Michaels, were on their way home. Amidst all the joyful, congratulatory, coverage of their return, came a number of calls for review of Canada’s China policy and that debate will continue as the new Trudeau government takes shape. We recommend the wise counsel of Jeremy Kinsman who reminds us that Diplomacy Freed the Two Michaels. Now, it’s Time for a Little Strategic Amnesia
In these cases, where a human drama suddenly takes on disproportionate meaning based on the geopolitics at play…diplomatic effectiveness hinges on a form of strategic amnesia. The essential understanding is that the deal is done, the trade is made and everyone shuts up. No one re-litigates or claims they were really the ones in the right. A tacitly agreed-upon minimum of spin is observed, and all parties are presumed to have processed the lessons required to move forward responsibly.
But already, the more ideological players in the bleachers on both sides are having a go at their adversaries. Given the cost-benefit aspects of what unfolded on Friday for everyone involved, the point-scoring would be best left for the major issues of the China/US rivalry. Those haven’t gone away.

Jeremy and Larry Haas also spoke about the Two Michaels on Tuesday’s edition of Diplomatic Community, emphasizing that the recent conversation between Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping in which they agreed on several mutual goals is a positive development. (See Biden’s hot and cold China policy).
They then turned to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in light of testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, deploring the way the withdrawal took place, including failure to consult with allies, but agreeing that it was time to end the 20-year war.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) concluded on Monday after addresses by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, followed by officials from the UAE, Yemen, Syria and North Korea, among others. What a pleasure not to have Bibi speaking for Israel!
Multilateralism is alive and well: Assembly President wraps up annual debate promising ‘active and inclusive’ 76th session

In the speech Foreign Minister Marc Garneau delivered to the UNGA on Monday, he paid tribute to the support received from allies throughout the Two Michaels’ ordeal:
“I want to recognize the support of our many international partners in standing with these Canadian citizens, as well as those who helped in developing and signing the Declaration on Arbitrary Detention in state-to-state relations.”

Quick wrap-up on Canadian elections news
They are off and running! Municipal elections now in gear.
For now, Coderre and Plante are neck and neck, with 37 per cent and 36 per cent of voting intentions, respectively, according to a Léger-Le Devoir poll published last week.
Particularly appealing (in our view) is the pledge of Balarama Holness to seek city-state status for Montreal and offer municipal services and information in French and English if elected in November.
Montreal municipal debate: Plante focuses on ecology, Coderre on international issues during the second debate of the municipal elections, organized by the CORIM. Both candidates agreed to defend the French language, attract foreign investors and support newcomers.
It remains to be seen how they will do all this under Bill 96.
A third debate will be held on Oct. 18, this time organized by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
Denis Coderre seems to have understood the power of the dog-owner community!
Denis Coderre’s campaign platform includes backtrack on pit bulls
He also promised to create two animal shelters — one in each of Montreal’s east and west ends — and a central fund to help boroughs create or refurbish existing dog parks.
The pledges came Monday as the former mayor’s Ensemble Montréal party announced its campaign platform, which also includes plans for housing, mobility, the environment, and making Montreal a leader in Quebec and abroad.
Coderre was flanked by platform co-presidents Guillaume Lavoie and Emilia Tamko, who explained the details.

Further afield, Andrew Caddell is an official candidate for the Kamouraska Council.

Congratulations to Julien Feldman who won re-election in the EMSB Ward 3 by a sizeable margin. Turnout was abysmal, hardly surprising given the scheduling between the fed elections and forthcoming municipal ones.

The federal election results ain’t over til they’re over:
A record number of Canadians — some 850,000 –voted by mail.
Election officials completed counting the mail-in ballots.
Elections Canada finished validating the results in all ridings on Monday, after which candidates in close-fought ridings had four days to request a judicial recount. The LPC has requested one in Châteauguay-Lacolle; so far no other recounts in other ridings.
Regrettable, but inevitable: Annamie Paul steps down as federal Green Party leader

What’s next for the new Trudeau government.
Wednesday morning’s Politico Canada offers some thoughts on the next Cabinet. For now, all we know is that Chrystia Freeland will remain as deputy prime minister and finance minister, and that the rest of the cabinet will be sworn in at some point in October.

The results of the elections in Germany Election leaves Germany in limbo – Protracted power struggle ahead as Social Democrats and conservatives fight for Merkel’s mantel are unfortunate for Germany, the EU and transAtlantic relations. Ian Bremmer asks Who will lead Europe after Merkel?  Predictable and predicted – The Economist European edition cover story was devoted to The mess Merkel leaves behind, while in early August, Ana Palacio wrote about The EU’s Post-Merkel Void.

In the lead-up to the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the IMF October 11-17, accusations are being leveled at the Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva. In A Coup Attempt at the IMF, Joseph Stiglitz outlines the sordid story, defends the beleaguered Ms. Georgieva, and hints that World Bank president David Malpass may have some involvement. The Financial Times adds: Anti-China hysteria lies at heart of action against IMF’s Georgieva – Her fall would prove the fund has mere trappings of multilateralism — leaving others to go their own way

But for now, we should reserve our deepest concern for the struggle for control of the political agenda of the U.S. On September 25, 2021  Heather Cox Richardson -hardly an alarmist- wrote: The profound disagreement between the Republicans and the Democrats over the role of government has led to a profound crisis in our democracy.
Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker rings alarm bells in As Trump hints at 2024 comeback, democracy advocates fear a ‘worst-case scenario’ for the country. At Brookings, Wendy Edelberg and Louise Sheiner ask How worried should we be if the debt ceiling isn’t lifted? See more: U.S. Government & governance August 2021-

You may prefer to worry about Bill 96 An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec. Kudos to QCGN for its persistent and well-researched advocacy on behalf of the English-speaking community and for a masterful presentation on Tuesday. QCGN President Marlene Jennings, QCGN legal counsel Marion Sandilands, former Minister Clifford Lincoln, and human rights lawyer Pearl Eliadis appeared before the Committee on Culture and Education to present their brief on Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec. Read the brief, (which is not brief) consult the opening remarks, and view the testimony on the QCGN’s YouTube channel.
A parenthetical note: do see  Patrick Lagacé Si l’école était importante  He makes some telling points.

Varia

544 Days (podcast)
Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian is jailed in an Iranian prison. His fate is tied to a ground-breaking diplomatic mission. Here’s the story of what it took to get him out.

Marc Nicholson brought to our attention the story of the U.S. Navy bribery and corruption scandal at whose center was “Fat Leonard”; we cannot understand how we missed in the years it has been unfolding.
But now, “FAT LEONARD,” A Nine-part Podcast Exploring the National Security Corruption Scandal With Exclusive Access To Leonard Francis, debuts On Tuesday, October 5.

Here’s Why Firefighters Are Wrapping Sequoia Trees In Aluminum Blankets
Intent on saving General Sherman and other high-priority trees, firefighters wrapped sequoias in aluminum-based blankets, sheathing the trees’ foot-thick bark with a synthetic material to help them survive.
There are signs that the strategy worked: The famous Four Guardsmen, sequoias that stand at the edge of the forest, were saved over the (Sept. 18-19) weekend.

With births and a beauty salon, Afghan ‘guests’ transform U.S. base
…there’s a sense that life’s events, in all of their complexity, are simply unfolding for the over 9,300 Afghan evacuees who have come to call this U.S. military base in New Jersey home over the past month or so – and who may be here for some time.

John Lownsbrough‘s recent post about his favorites and un-favorites on CNN includes this gem:
Overrated: …the bright and peppy Erin Burnett who far too often for certain (my) tastes opens a question with “So” and brackets the question with “Right?”. Matthew Cope would have loved this!

Recommended reading
Very long and very disturbing
Robert Kagan in the Washington Post: Our constitutional crisis is already here
Power shortages in China hit homes and factories prompting global supply fears
Factories were closed to avoid exceeding limits on energy use imposed by Beijing to promote efficiency
From Montreal: A Citizen’s Guide to City Politics, the chapter by Montreal Gazette reporter Linda Gyulai “Absolute power in the hands of Montreal’s mayor” examines issues of power at city hall through the decades.
The Kremlin’s Strange VictoryHow Putin Exploits American Dysfunction and Fuels American Decline
And for those who enjoy truly trash reading, Stephanie Grisham’s new book, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now” should suit perfectly. Apparently lots of insider gossip about the Trump White House from one of the longest-serving Trump advisers, the president’s third press secretary and Melania Trump’s chief of staff and communications director. Both Trumps have reacted, so there must be something to the allegations.

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