Wednesday Night #2149

Written by  //  May 24, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Another entertainment legend (avoiding ‘icon’) has left us this week. Tina Turner, ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ whose triumphant career made her world-famous, dies at 83 We did not realize that she was in her eighties, nor that she was ill for some time.

Breaking news -and good for Hydro-Québec
Michael Sabia leaving Finance Department, expected to be named chief of Hydro-Québec
Mario Iacobacci comments He’s been around so long that most people forgot that he was also the father of the GST tax reform in the early 90s
Paul Wells: The enterprising Mr. SabiaWhat goes up must, apparently, keep going up

The Hiroshima 2023 G7 Summit is over.
Writing in Policy, Colin Robertson gives a lengthy summary Out of Hiroshima: Takeaways from the 2023 G7
The G7 leaders met this past weekend in Hiroshima and, in an impressive demonstration of solidarity, agreed to a common approach to tackling Russia, China, economic security and many other significant challenges of our day.

Greece is headed back to the polls as Centre-right Mitsotakis hails big win but wants majority .
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou has appointed senior judicial official Ioannis Sarmas to be the caretaker prime minister who will form a government to lead the country to a runoff. The vote was set for June 25 after last weekend’s election results were inconclusive. The conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis secured 40.1% of the vote on Sunday, but fell short of an outright majority. The next two parties with the most votes refused to form a coalition, hoping that a second vote will boost their ratings.

Negotiations to avert the debt ceiling default continue between the White House and Kevin McCarthy’s team from the House. The negotiations are locked on a classic problem that has divided and disrupted Washington before, particularly the last time Republicans used the borrowing limit as leverage to extract priorities a decade ago: Republicans want to roll back federal government spending, while Biden and other Democrats do not. From the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre decried what the administration called a “manufactured crisis” set in motion by Republicans pushing “extreme proposals” that would hurt “every single part of the country, whether you’re in a red state or a blue state.”

To the surprise of no-one, Ron DeSantis announced his presidential campaign on Wednesday evening by talking to Elon Musk on Twitter. Tom Nichols of The Atlantic (who did not tune in to Twitter) wonders ” Who came up with the galaxy-brained idea of matching up two of the most socially awkward people in American public life for a spontaneous discussion on Twitter? It’s not even laden with the pomp and suspense of a real announcement: As my colleague David Frum tweeted yesterday, “If you tell Fox News you plan to announce your candidacy on Twitter, isn’t that really … announcing on Fox News?” ”

While the US debt ceiling crisis is the subject of world-wide concern, Ian Bremmer’s positive take on How’s the US economy doing right now? is a refreshing change. Let us hope that he is right.

Scathing commentary has greeted David Johnston’s recommendation for no public inquiry into foreign interference, as summarized by Andrew Coyne in The essence of Johnston’s report: Trust me, there’s no story here. And Trudeau won’t overrule the recommendation.  But, by Wednesday afternoon,  the opposition parties are demanding a public inquiry.
How very sad to witness the tarnishing of the former governor general’s reputation. Although the closeness of the relationship between Johnston and Trudeau -including the Foundation- has been greatly exaggerated (What else we learned from David Johnston’s interference report),  there were warning signs that his appointment to lead the investigation into foreign meddling in the 2019 and 2021 elections was not a good idea. As usual, it seems the Trudeau PMO did not listen and the result is an unforced error…

Another important piece of legislation for us to watch – Bill C-27
We continue to follow AI/Chatbot related news as much as possible. Speaking at the C2 Montréal conference, on Wednesday, Artificial intelligence pioneer Yoshua Bengio [who in 2019 won the Turing Award, known as the Nobel Prize of the technology industry] stated that regulation in Canada is on the right path, but progress is far too sluggish. The Université de Montréal professor said he backed a bill tabled in the House of Commons last June that adopts a more general, principles-based approach to AI guardrails and leaves details to a later date.
However, Ottawa has said the act known as Bill C-27 will come into force no sooner than 2025.
“That’s way too slow,” Bengio told reporters Wednesday. “There are simple things that could happen that don’t need two years to be figured out.”

Our Global Humanitarian Nightmare
This Wednesday, the United Nations is hosting a “pledging conference” for the Horn of Africa. Specifically, humanitarian relief agencies are seeking to raise $7 billion to provide for the basic humanitarian needs of people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia whose lives and livelihoods are being threatened by an epic drought. …
The problem is, there’s virtually no chance that anywhere close to $7 billion will actually be raised. That’s because of a central dilemma that has been percolating for years in our global humanitarian system: While relief agencies have gotten quit good at efficiently delivering aid in emergencies, the money available to them has not increased commensurate to the needs. This funding gap is only getting bigger and bigger. ”

Israeli parliament set to approve 2023-24 budget amid protests
The government is facing economic pressure with rising living costs and fallout from its now-suspended judicial overhaul drive, which triggered one of Israel’s worst political crises, drove away investment and cut growth prospects.
The two-year spending package posed another test to the religious-nationalist coalition, drawing criticism from the government’s own budget division for increasing funding to ultra-orthodox Jewish schools and seminary students in a series of steps it warned would encourage joblessness and harm growth.
Tomer Avital’s Tuesday post from Israel:
1. Hundreds of senior economists warn that the budget will collapse us.
2. Tonight demonstrations in Jerusalem, in the center of the country (Alf Field) and in the north (Regva Junction) – details in the comments, along with links to transportation to Jerusalem and flagged caravans from all over the country.
3. The protest is for the future of us all – secular, religious and ultra-orthodox.
4. The demonstrations fuel excess initiatives, give courage to experts to speak loudly, and allow the public to understand what disaster we are rushing into.

What took them so long?
The United Arab Emirates has been strongly criticized by environmental advocates for nominating Sultan al-Jaber, the head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to preside over the Nov. 30 – Dec. 12 meeting in Dubai known as COP28.
In an open letter, the lawmakers urged U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, U.S. President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.N. climate chief Simon Stiell to “engage in diplomatic efforts to secure the withdrawal of the president-designate of COP28.”

As Alberta wildfires abate somewhat, thanks to rain and cool weather, something to consider:
Hotter, faster, more destructive: wildfire’s new reality
Author John Vaillant has spent years investigating what happened in 2016 when parts of Fort McMurray burned to the ground. His new book, ‘Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast,’ explains why the fires we battle today are hotter, faster and more destructive than the fires of before.

The QR-Code Menu Is Being Shown the Door
A dining innovation that once looked like the future has worn out its welcome with many restaurateurs, customers and servers who say it takes the joy out of dining. … The motivation for the about-face is simple, restaurateurs said: Diners just hate QR-code menus.

Upcoming event:
The Canadian Global Affairs Institute hosts
12th annual Canada in the World conference
Friday, June 2nd , 09:00 to 16:30 ET
KPMG (18th Floor, 150 Elgin Street, Ottawa) from addressing the geopolitical landscape, the future of democracy, the war in Ukraine, defence of the Arctic; building a Canadian consensus; establishing Canada as an economic leader; a China policy; and a look at Canadian attitudes.

Long reads
Out of Hiroshima: Takeaways from the 2023 G7 by Colin Robertson
They’re openly saying it: Brexit has failed. But what comes next may be very dark indeed
Jonathan Freedland
The ‘remoaner elite’, the civil service, the BBC, universities, unions, refugees: anything is blamed but Brexit itself
Interviewed on BBC Newsnight on Monday, Nigel Farage made a confession that, by rights, should end the debate that has split this country down the middle for much of the last decade. A month ahead of the seventh anniversary of the 2016 vote that took Britain out of the European Union, Farage said three words of striking simplicity and truth: “Brexit has failed.”

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