Wednesday Night #2071

Written by  //  November 24, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

HAPPY (AMERICAN) THANKSGIVING and a big thank you to Terry Jones for reminding us of the utterly delightful Le Jour De Merci Donnant by the late Art Buchwald – a ritual read for many of a certain age.

Last Friday, we lost a giant of Canadian journalism, Norman Webster, former editor-in-chief of both The Gazette and the Globe and Mail (See Long reads below). How we wish he were with us to untangle the current news.
Doug Sweet writes:
“Norman was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time for some momentous events. He was a dear friend, who would frequently call me up out of the blue and ask if I’d like to join him in the reds for that night’s Habs game because one of his pair of season’s tickets was going begging. I would buy the beer. But our paths crossed far earlier, starting with the night in 1977-78 when we were both covering a pre-election nomination meeting in Oakville and he needed a lift home and I had a spare seat in my MG. He was then the vaunted Globe columnist at Queen’s Park; I was a lowly cub reporter at the Oakville Journal Record. He had trouble getting into the car because of a stiff leg. But we stayed friends for decades, until he had to retreat more and more to life in the Townships because of the inexorable creep of Parkinson’s disease.
Taken all too young. He had so much more to give.”

Have you been paying attention to what is happening on the Polish border with Belarus, or the Ukraine’s border with Russia?
If not, perhaps a quick read of On Putin’s Strategic Chessboard, a Series of Destabilizing MovesIn the stretch of Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, where Moscow and the West have competed for influence for decades, the threat of a new military conflict is growing will prompt you to follow more closely.

Time also to turn our attention to Europe and the EU where COVID is the No. 1 cause of death.
On Diplomatic Community, Jeremy Kinsman and Ferry de Kerckhov address the actions of European governments now at the “at the epicentre” of the Covid pandemic and facing low rates of vaccination, but reluctant to follow the example of Austria and impose a mandate. That the mandate is not to take effect until February is, however, problematic.
We must get used to saying Chancellor Olaf Scholz who presented his plans for coalition government on Wednesday and is hoping to get the formal nod of approval from parliament in a couple of weeks. However, according to the BBC, Germans are talking about a radical change in their country’s “Machtarchitektur” – or architecture of power. And that will affect German policymaking at home and abroad.
While the pandemic is the major concern, give a thought to the languishing Conference on the Future of Europe.
Finally, Wednesday’s news that Sweden’s first ever female prime minister resigned just hours after she was appointed when her coalition partner quit the government and her budget failed to pass.
Instead, parliament voted for a budget drawn-up by the opposition which includes the anti-immigrant far right.

Meanwhile, we continue to fixate on events in the U.S. and in China, not to mention the  opening of Canada’s 44th Parliament and the dramatic impact of storms, flooding and landslides in BC -with more to come. The Globe & Mail reminds us The B.C. flooding isn’t just a regional catastrophe – it’s a warning that climate change is coming for everyone
And don’t miss CBC Radio What On Earth: River above, trouble below: A What On Earth special report
A “river in the sky” triggered landslides and floods that brought the climate crisis home. In this special report, hear what happened in B.C., and how to chart a path forward with solutions, strength, and hope.

But, as Andrew Caddell writes: François Legault is concerned about a crisis in Quebec. No, it is not COVID-19 deaths, among the highest in the country during the pandemic, the lack of family doctors in the province, a rise in violent crime, or the prospect paramedics will go on strike. The issue he was seized with last week was the lack of Quebec players in the NHL.

On Monday, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance released its Global State of Democracy Report 2021 (see Long reads below). Unsurprisingly, it identifies the U.S. as one of the “backsliding democracies”: The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself. Heather Cox Richardson links the findings to current news including the January 6th hearings and Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal. She also underlines findings that foreign social media accounts are magnifying right-wing voices.
To Paramilitary Groups, Rittenhouse Verdict Means Vindication
His acquittal has reinvigorated support on the right for armed responses to racial justice protests and unrest. The Rittenhouse shootings, and the clash between paramilitaries and demonstrators in which they occurred, represented the lethal culmination of this idea: that the United States had reached a point of crisis in which citizens were required to take up arms to defend it from their fellow citizens. It was an idea with deep roots in American history, and also one deeply entangled with the country’s legacy of racial conflict.

Varia
The second topic on the Diplomatic Community agenda was the disturbing story of the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a senior Chinese politician of sexual assault. Although she has recently ‘reappeared’ and, according to the IOC, president Thomas Bach and other officials had had a pleasant, half-hour Zoom chat with her on Sunday. The Globe & Mail is following the story closely, noting that It’s not just tennis star Peng Shuai. China is cracking down on #MeToo movement

Biden may be open to a carve-out for Canada on electric vehicle tax credit, says ex-diplomat
Washington could extend the credit to union-built vehicles from Canada, says Scotty Greenwood [a former American diplomat to Canada who’s now CEO of the Canadian-American Business Council.]
Greenwood told CBC’s The House in an interview airing this weekend that Biden wasn’t prepared to negotiate with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the North American Leaders’ Summit in Washington while his $2 trillion Build Back Better bill was still moving through Congress.
But she said she saw an openness in the U.S. president’s language during a brief media availability with Trudeau on Thursday in the Oval Office — enough openness to suggest that a compromise can be reached.

A damning report from The Fifth Estate
WE Charity misled donors about building schools in Kenya, records show

World’s oldest forest found in New York state
The 385-million-year-old fossils show that trees evolved modern features millions of years earlier than previously estimated.
The world’s oldest forest fossils were located in an abandoned quarry near Cairo, New York. Research of site specimens suggests that the forebearers to modern plants evolved much earlier than expected. The findings help scientists better understand how trees advanced life’s evolutionary trajectory to land during a critical period.

Events
November 29
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EST

The Next Trudeau Government and Foreign Policy: A Discussion with Senator Boehm
The departure of Marc Garneau as Minister of Foreign Affairs and his replacement by Melanie Joly prompted headlines across the country. The new cabinet is also seen to have a left-of-centre perspective. Although much of foreign policy is directed by the Prime Minister’s Office, it is implemented by the department of Global Affairs, and its foreign policy, trade and development sections. There has been much speculation on what to expect of the new government in the realm of foreign policy.

Long reads
The Globe’s Norman Webster, dead at 80, captured history from Mao’s China to Mulroney’s Meech Lake
As a jack-of-all trades reporter, then foreign correspondent, then editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail and later Montreal’s Gazette, he helped Canadians make sense of a changing 20th century

Policy November/December Issue: The 44th Parliament

Global State of Democracy Report 2021

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