Wednesday Night #2074

Written by  //  December 15, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

As advisories, recommendations, regulations and opinions change by the hour, our thoughts are with friends and Wednesday Nighters whose plans for the holidays are in constant flux. The announcement that Ottawa is advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country has generated the valid question Who determines what is essential? And at what point in your itinerary?

At least if you stay home (in Quebec) you will likely have some wine to drown your sorrows.

It recently occurred to us that one service industry that must be benefiting from the confusion would be travel agencies. It seems this was not a flash of original brilliance – as early as last April, the NYT featured Make Way for the Travel Agents. Again. underlining the obvious: “Lots of people got burned last spring. They didn’t have an advocate to call the airline and get their airline tickets or their cruise credited,… Now, the level of complexity needed to go on a basic trip has drastically increased. A client who, typically, would have planned on their own previously are looking to a professional to say, ‘Please show me the ins and outs.’” The sheer breadth of information to track, including vaccine requirements and closed borders, not to mention the rapidity with which everything can change, is challenging.” In the past we always worked through a travel agent for personal trips and I enjoyed the luxury of corporate travel offices when at IATA and CBD. It’s good to see this service coming back into fashion.
What others may be unintended beneficiaries of the pandemic?

A quick tour du monde
Journalists Ressa and Muratov receive Nobel Peace Prize
Journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia warn world needs independent reporting to counter the power of authoritarian governments.

This development in the E.U. no doubt owes much to the pandemic.
E.U. Proposes Changes That Would Chip Away at Borderless Model
The plan would institutionalize internal border controls to respond to emergencies, suspending some protections for asylum seekers.

Just How Frightening Is France’s New Right?
I witnessed Éric Zemmour electrify a seething and violent mob

EU to warn Vladimir Putin of ‘massive consequences’ of invading Ukraine
European leaders to tell Kremlin further aggression will carry ‘severe cost’, leak reveals

US plans ASEAN summit, weighs new sanctions against Myanmar
US secretary of state says the proposed summit will cover issues such as Myanmar, climate change, COVID-19 and investment

How India and China Can Keep the Peace
Better Diplomacy and Stronger Guardrails Can Prevent War
New Delhi and Beijing need to improve communication, including by engaging in a high-level bilateral strategic dialogue to identify each other’s core interests, determine which are complementary and which are in conflict, and then decide how to manage their relationship.

Biden nominates Caroline Kennedy to be ambassador to Australia
Daughter of John F Kennedy was long seen as top candidate for a prominent diplomatic role

‘No looking back’: As economy crumbles, Lebanese turn to Cyprus
About 12,000 Lebanese have moved to small island over the past year to secure livelihoods and find better economic opportunities. According to a recent Gallup poll, 63 percent of Lebanese would like to permanently leave the country in the face of worsening living conditions. Some have opted to take dangerous trips across the sea to Cyprus and other European countries.

Canada
We enjoy the combination of solid information and a somewhat irreverent style of Politico’s Ottawa Playbook Groundhog Day x 641
The economic update is out. Covid cases are up. It’s the last three-day sprint before the House rises for the holidays (and 95 percent of January) — that time in the parliamentary calendar where each day feels a week long. We’re still waiting for mandate letters, a promised list of proposed retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. and measures to contain community transmissions of Omicron. … DAYS WITH NO DOCS: 50 The government is edging closer to the two-month mark since Cabinet was sworn in, and still the Prime Minister’s Office has made no mention of new mandate letters for ministers. Playbook is counting.

Even powerful law firms are stymied by the IRCC
…the Canadian government promised to give asylum to 40,000 Afghan refugees after the Taliban took over. But as 2021 comes to an end, only about one tenth of that number have set foot on Canadian soil. We speak to Saeeq Shajjan, an Afghan lawyer and recent refugee to Canada, about the work his law firm has done with the Canadian government in Afghanistan; and Carla Potter, a lawyer at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, who’s leading the team advocating for Shajjan’s employees.

Adding unwanted spice to our lives were the cybersecurity threats of the past week, as
Canada Revenue Agency, other government departments take some services offline due to security ‘vulnerability’, while
Facing cybersecurity threats, Quebec shut down government websites for evaluation as
nearly 4,000 websites were targeted. On Wednesday, it was announced that Éric Caire sera ministre à la tête du nouveau ministère de la Cybersécurité et du Numérique, dont la création a été adoptée à l’unanimité à l’Assemblée nationale au début du mois.

The tabling of the Cloutier Report will no doubt provoke much discussion.
Cloutier report recommends academic freedom law / Les classes ne sont pas des «espaces sécuritaires», conclut un rapport

Bill 21
Paul Wells: An important and spontaneous debate has broken out in Ottawa that the party leaders had been desperately trying to avoid
Kyle Seeback, a Brampton Conservative MP, kicked it off by tweeting, “I cannot in good conscience keep silent on this anymore… Bill 21 has to be opposed. In court, in the house of commons and in the streets.” Jamie Schmale, Chris Warkentin and Mark Strahl tweeted their agreement.
Seeback’s conscience seems to have gnawed at him after he retweeted a Wednesday-night tweet from the Globe’s Robyn Urback wondering why Catherine McKenna, the former Liberal environment minister, now calls Law 21’s application “appalling” but didn’t, at the time, contradict Justin Trudeau’s milder language in the 2019 and ’21 campaigns. Good for Seeback, actually, for amplifying some snark aimed at a Liberal and then realizing it applied to him too. Soon McKenna and the Conservative MPs had company among Liberals still in caucus: Alexandra Mendes, Salma Zahid, Iqra Khalid, Marc Garneau. Finally a sitting cabinet minister, Marc Miller, called the law’s application “cowardly.”

Which raises the question of our elected representatives’ dual loyalties to their constituents and to their Party. For many  Anglophones and others, Bill 21 and Bill 96 are the death knells of the diverse culture on which we pride ourselves. There was a strong feeling until very recently that we had been abandoned by all the federalist parties as the PM and other leaders resolutely refused to comment, and those MPs whom we had elected  said nary a word  on our behalf. So how should our elected representatives balance their act – what do they owe to the people who sent them to Parliament?
Trudeau hasn’t ‘closed the door’ to legal action after Quebec teacher loses job over hijab
But Inclusion and Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen told reporters on Thursday it was ‘premature’
Tom Mulcair: Trudeau speaks well, but chickens out on defending rights

Robert Libman: Generational changes mean trouble for PQ, sovereignty
Young francophones aren’t abandoning their language or culture, but the digital age and smartphones have expanded their horizons.

The climate conundrum
Dennis J. Snower
(Brookings) The COP26 summit is now over and the question remains, where do we go from here?
The fundamental challenge is not the failure of particular nations or institutions or businesses or civil organizations, but rather the interaction between our economic, political, and social systems, which generates environmental outcomes that are incompatible with the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. Economic prosperity and political success have become decoupled from social and environmental prosperity.
Last week, John Buchanan forwarded a link to “a great podcast for you to listen to and distribute to the Wednesday Nighters, from a real serious climate scientist”, Judith Curry -one of his favorite climate contrarions- former professor and chairwoman of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
He also cited arguments proposed by physicist Steve Koonin in his book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t and Why it Matters. We would call to John’s attention reviews from The Scientific American and Inside Climate News

RIP
Ronald Storrs McCall
He believed everyone benefited from studying the great thinkers in the Western canon, and his Introduction to Philosophy class was taken by thousands of undergraduates who went on to pursue careers in many different fields. From 1965 to 1971, he and others worked to establish the study of philosophy at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He also taught at the University of Pittsburgh before returning with his young family to McGill. He had a long-standing presence at McGill, with over fifty years of teaching, beginning in his early twenties. He was a daily attendee at the Faculty Club where he joined fellow academics in lively discussions over lunch. He gave generously to McGill, establishing the Professor Storrs McCall Fellowship for Graduate Students in Philosophy in 2019.

Varia
Christmas comes early for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)

Following the news of Andrew Howick’s gift of Molson Island to the NCC, Thor Vikström of Laval has donated Île Ronde to the NCC; located in the middle of Rivière-des-prairies, near Lake of Two Mountains, it is habitat for birds and vulnerable turtle species. And, Harvey and Carol Thommasen gifted a large parcel of land near Bella Coola, BC containing pristine old growth forest and rich riverside habitats that support grizzlies and 5 species of Pacific salmon.

How did we miss this item in September and October?
Singapore trials patrol robots to deter bad social behaviour
Undesirable social behaviour includes undesirable social behaviors like flouting COVID-19 safety measures (not wearing masks), smoking in forbidden locations, and incorrect bicycle parking (!).

Long reads
Inside the Fall of Kabul
The story of why it happened and what came after — by a reporter and photographer who witnessed it all.

Rising From the Antarctic, a Climate Alarm
[Scientists] have discovered that global warming is affecting the Antarctic current in complex ways, and these shifts could complicate the ability to fight climate change in the future

First Fires, Then Floods: Climate Extremes Batter Australia
Many of the same areas that suffered through horrific bush fires in 2019 and 2020 are now dealing with prodigious rainfall that could leave some people stranded for weeks.
There’s a tendency to think of such extremes as “natural disasters” or “acts of God” that come and go with news reports. But Australia’s nightmares of nature ebb and flow. Its droughts and floods, though weather opposites, are driven by the same forces — some of them timeless, others newer and caused by humans.

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