Wednesday Night #2072

Written by  //  December 1, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Happy Hannukah to all who are celebrating!

Kudos to Andrew Caddell and Kyle Matthews for Monday’s excellent Zoom session The next Trudeau Government and Foreign Policy with Senator Peter Boehm. It was good to see a number of Wednesday Nighter participants and for those who missed it, we will publish the online link as soon as it is available.
Another perspective that many may enjoy (or at least want to digest) is Canada in retreat by retired diplomat Louis Delvoie.

Despite important news from around the world, Montrealers and Habs fans are consumed with the fallout from the news that Marc Bergevin fired – The Canadiens’ long-tenured general manager is out, and Jeff Gorton has been brought in to lead the search for his replacement. Good move or Bad move? Will a new team at the top solve the problems?

For many around the world, the death of Stephen Sondheim was the dominant news of the past week. Touching tributes (just Google stephen sondheim tributes) poured in including Lin-Manuel Miranda fronts chorus of Broadway stars in Times Square tribute to Stephen Sondheim; Mandy Patinkin on Stephen Sondheim: “I got to be in the room with Shakespeare. Who gets that?” and these letters to the NYT A Song for Stephen Sondheim, Starring Julie Andrews.

A new Republic is born as Barbados stopped pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday
The drive to become a republic began more than two decades ago and culminated with the island’s Parliament electing its first ever president last month in a two-thirds majority vote. Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason was sworn in before dawn on Tuesday as the island marked its 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

Our vocabulary continues to expand in ways we wish it would not: ‘atmospheric rivers’ has become a staple of reporting on the disastrous flooding in BC as in “Evacuation alerts and travel advisories have been issued in parts of southwestern B.C. and the province’s coastal region, as a third atmospheric river threatens to bring heavy rain and more potential flooding to the area”
Omicron (variant) an unwelcome arrival in time to be the holiday season’s Grinch – all of a sudden the cheery forecasts of opening of borders, happy vaccinated travellers and family gatherings are being reviewed and revised. The problem is, nobody knows whether the new, highly contagious variant could have terrible consequences or if it ends up causing milder symptoms than Delta, could there be a real upside.
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas (Omicron on everybody’s minds – Who’s to blame now?) agree that travel bans don’t really work, but do give time for the authorities and pharma companies to assess and react with science-based policies and solutions. They remind us that the WHO believes that bans may discourage honest reporting – quarantine is a better answer; and urge global cooperation through COVAX despite its flaws – “You’re not safe until everybody’s safe”.

News of Russia/Ukraine continues to be disturbing: Russia will act if Nato countries cross Ukraine ‘red lines’, Putin says
Deployment of weapons or troops in Ukraine by Nato would trigger strong response, Russian president says
Nato countries have warned Putin against further aggression against Ukraine as foreign ministers gathered in Latvia to discuss the military alliance’s contingencies for a potential Russian invasion.Russia planning ‘aggressive moves’ against Ukraine, Blinken says
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Washington ‘will be prepared to act’ if Russia invades Ukraine.
A grim reminder from Ian Bremmer Revisiting Holodomor, the controversial 1932-33 Soviet genocide against Ukrainians

Cleo Paskal writes about a situation of which most of us have been unaware: Foreign Intervention Complicates Solomon Islands Unrest
The problem was sparked by perceived CCP interference. It can’t be solved by Australia taking a similarly heavy hand.

Monday’s Politico Ottawa Playbook reminds us: DAYS WITH NO DOCS: 34 — More than a month has passed since Cabinet was sworn in, and still the Prime Minister’s Office has made no mention of powerful Cabinet committee membership or new mandate letters for ministers — key documents that set the government’s priorities. Playbook is counting the days. We’ll stop when the documents flow. And, we add, no announcement of parliamentary secretaries. What is the delay?
A ministry of critical concern for us is the IRCC with a shambolic department and a new minister with no mandate letter, whom many of us hoped could sort out problems not of his making -and we are not talking about the plight of those Afghans seeking to come to Canada. Services to Canadian citizens and permanent residents are virtually non-existent with the explanation that due to Covid, offices are working with reduced staff [On August 3Permanent residents in Canada left in the dark as feds dawdle with processing times and on 1 December Couple could lose jobs, but IRCC can’t explain years of limbo for permanent residents]. Meanwhile, new immigration targets are being announced. Where will staff come from to process those requests while citizens’ and permanent residents’ routine requirements languish?

Non-Quebecers, please forgive this bit of inside baseball commentary. We are simply appalled by the infighting among the various individuals and groups who supposedly represent and defend the anglophone community and the many others opposed to the draconian Bill 96 and other restrictions on the use of English.
Tom Mulcair is the most recent (and persistent) critic, writing in The Gazette that “it would be giving too much credit to the QCGN to say that they actually represent the English-speaking community of Quebec but, hey, they’re all we’ve got right now.” It would be nice if all the quasi-political actors and commentators would check their egos at the door and concentrate on together defending the interests of the Anglo minority. Once that is accomplished, if they have not appreciated the benefits of working together, then perhaps they can return to their sandbox squabbles.
Meanwhile in this week’s column, Andrew Caddell presents a strong analysis of the problems faced by Dominique Anglade: Legault’s appeal, rural/urban vote split and potshots from such as deplores that The Quebec Liberal Party struggles for its soul
The Quebec Liberals’ winning formula in the past was to be federalist and nationalist, be good stewards of the economy, keep a window open to the world, encourage basic rights, welcome immigrants, and encourage business to thrive.

Varia
In the good news department:
Montrealer spends decades buying entire island to donate it to Nature Conservancy of Canada
Andrew Howick has been busy over the last few decades buying property on Molson Island in Lac Memphrémagog in the hopes of protecting it from development. Now, he’s donating all 26 hectares — about the same as 24 soccer fields — to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
Congratulations to Montreal teenager Thomas Khairy who was named to Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30 for his work at the Montreal Heart Institute, where he and his colleagues demonstrated that the risk of infection when implanting pacemakers and defibrillators was similar for both re-sterilized and new devices. He became the youngest lead author of a paper ever published by the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably the most prestigious medical journal on the planet. WOW!
Not what you might think: The Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN) has nothing to do with espionage. Rather, it has launched a new project that will involve the collection of 10,000 samples of underground fungi around the world, from hotspots that are being identified through artificial intelligence technology
If you have not succumbed already, don’t delay in following
Stuff the British Stole’ podcast traces the true stories behind stolen artifacts Sunday’s account of the Oxford Dodo is fascinating.

Long reads
Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, Is Dead at 91
He was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century and the driving force behind some of Broadway’s most beloved and celebrated shows.
Here We Go Again: Chaos Rules Global Response to Omicron Variant
Almost two years into the pandemic, finger-pointing, lack of coordination, sparse information and fear are once again influencing policy.
Green Upheaval – The New Geopolitics of Energy
Proponents of clean energy hope (and sometimes promise) that in addition to mitigating climate change, the energy transition will help make tensions over energy resources a thing of the past. It is true that clean energy will transform geopolitics—just not necessarily in the ways many of its champions expect.

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