Wednesday Night #2190

Written by  //  March 6, 2024  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2190

Brian Mulroney 1939-2024 R.I.P.
Dominating Canadian news -with a good dash of international media references- the death of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on Thursday, 29 February.Canadian Press summed it up “There was no in-between with Martin Brian Mulroney”. The tributes are effusive and among the most touching is that of Lucien Bouchard, with whom Mulroney was only recently reconciled. “It was a very, very painful rupture that … shouldn’t have happened. But we realized that and we reconciled at the end.”
Mr. Mulroney is much praised for his successful interventions in international affairs, including the successful conclusion of NAFTA, the active participation of Canada in the Organization of American States (OAS) and above all, his leadership in rallying Western nations against apartheid. It is impressive to read and listen to accounts of the effectiveness of his teamwork with Joe Clark – and a tribute to the strength of their respective commitments to the good of the nation and its place in the world.
Coincidentally, Paul Wells draws attention to a new book Statesmen, Strategies & Diplomats: Canada’s Prime Ministers and the Making of Foreign Policy. It’s the first systematic look at how Canada’s heads of government have conducted the country’s external relations. Mulroney comes out quite well, finishing just behind Louis St. Laurent and William Lyon Mackenzie King in the rankings. [The book is] edited by Patrice Dutil, a political science professor at Toronto Metropolitan University. Turns out he’s a great talker. We had a lot to discuss. (podcast)
Consequently, we have been thinking about how the Brian-Joe team might conduct foreign policy in today’s world – how would Brian deal with the complexities of the Middle East and  intransigence of Netanyahu (see Yuval Noah Harari in Long reads below) with its far-reaching ramifications, e.g. Houthis and Red Sea crisis. Might we suggest that if the Israel-Hamas war had not enabled the Houthis to seriously hinder maritime shipping and thus world trade, a world led by an energized and focused Canada might devote more energy to solving the appalling situation in Sudan? Especially as it would not have the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to contend with.
What solutions might the Brian-Joe team have proposed for somehow resuscitating the failed state of Haiti?
Has the spirit of Mulroney whispered into the appropriate ears that Canada should resume funding to UNRWA, the primary provider of social and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip when its next scheduled payment is due in April. Not yet a done deal, but at least under consideration.
If the Brian-Joe team took over those delicate matters, we might not be quite so concerned about Putin’s War in Ukraine – more time and energy could be devoted to bringing the allies along and devising a strategy that could start with dealing with Putin’s inevitable re-election. We do not believe that even Brian’s blarney could outwit the Russian leader, but perhaps tame him a bit on the Ukraine question? And, finally -for the moment- with the position of Canada comfortably established as a middle power, a quick pivot to China, India and Pakistan?
Ah, if only … then we could turn to Fed-Prov relations and watch the Mulroney charm work on Legault?

Andrew Caddell devotes his column this week to stories about his relationship with Brian Mulroney, dating back to early January of 1976 when he received a call from “Mila Mulroney, with whom I shared a friend in common. “Di says you are interested in politics. How would you like to join Brian’s team?” I explained it would be impossible, as I was a parliamentary reporter for our campus station, but ‘if I can get access to the campaign, I’d report on it.’ She agreed, and I was a fly on the wall for the Mulroney Progressive Conservative leadership campaign for the next month. What a great experience!”

SUPER TUESDAY -no surprises (Biden and Trump dominate Super Tuesday races and move closer to a November rematch)- and the announcement on Wednesday (courtesy Politico) that Haley’s comet crashes.
Thursday’s SOTU (State of the Union) might produce more surprises and could shore up President Biden’s support, especially, in our opinion, if he were to take the advice of Politico‘s Jack Shafer “Biden’s only recourse — providing he has the guts to do it — would be to use the State of the Union address to tackle head-on the notion that “he’s too old” to be president and embrace every gray hair, wrinkle and stretch mark as badges of honor. Instead of making jokes about his age, he could use the occasion to brag about his years of experience, his accrued wisdom, his emotional stability and work ethic, and his demonstrated skill at passing big legislation. He could even coin a new campaign slogan: Old is the new young. It might be the most honest thing he’s ever said on the stump.”

Damage to Cables Under Red Sea Highlights Mideast Conflict’s Broader Threat
What disabled three major cables linking East to West is still not clear. Suspicion has centered on Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have attacked numerous ships in the area, but they have denied responsibility.

As we reflect on Brian Mulroney’s influence, our concentration this week is on Canada’s role, or lack thereof, on the international scene. This is not because we are unaware of or taking lightly the various developments in Canadian politics. Just a change of focus.
But as always, we follow developments in Quebec avidly
We applaud our MP, the Hon Marc Miller, who has thrown down the gauntlet of who controls the immigration cap – Quebec irked as Ottawa imposes increase in family unification permits
Canada has a “moral duty” to speed up the processing of family unifications requests for permanent residency in Quebec, federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller wrote in a letter to his Quebec counterpart, Christine Fréchette.
Like so many, we are dismayed by the ruling on Bill 21 (English school boards lose as Quebec Court of Appeal upholds Bill 21) and look forward to learning whether The English Montreal School Board will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. In any event, Women’s group to contest Bill 21 appeal court ruling
Following up on last week’s discussion, Dónal Gill’s Opinion piece: Denis Coderre may not be right for Liberals, but he’s done the party a favour
Public awareness of the Quebec Liberals’ leadership vacuum has risen considerably since the former Montreal mayor signalled his likely intent to run for the job..

Mark your calendars
March 15-17.
While Montrealers of all ethnicities wear The Green in honour of their favorite celebration, -for which Alan Hustak will be returning to Montreal- keep an eye on the Russian election. Not that Vladimir Putin has any opposition. In fact, Russia’s next election is likely to put Putin in power for longer than anyone since Peter the Great. However, it will be interesting to see how much -if any- dissent is permitted. Note that Yulia Navalnaya is calling on his supporters to join a protest of this month’s presidential election that Navalny devised shortly before his still-unexplained death.

Singapore Has Taylor Swift to Itself This Week, and the Neighbors Are Complaining
The country is defending paying the pop star to play nowhere else in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s prime minister said the price was up to $3 million per show.

Long reads/listens
Yuval Noah Harari: Netanyahu’s ‘Deep State’ fears enabled Oct 7 attack
Author and historian Yuval Noah Harari believes that the Israeli government’s policies under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allowed for Hamas’ Oct 7 attack to be as deadly as it was. He points specifically to Netanyahu’s efforts to undermine the judiciary and other democratic institutions.
The Houthis Are Very, Very Pleased
Arab leaders have long seen the Houthis as dangerous proxies for Iran, the group’s main military supplier, but some observers now say the truth may be even worse: that the Houthis are fanatics who answer to no one.
Ian Bremmer: Why Trump is now the favorite to win the US election
Last time I wrote about the 2024 US election back in November, I rated the outcome of the rematch between President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump a coin flip.
Today, with eight months left until the votes are counted,…Trump is looking like the slight favorite to return to the White House in 2025.

5 Takeaways From Super Tuesday: Trump Wins and Haley Exits
The presidential primaries on Super Tuesday, along with a series of congressional contests in key districts, many still undecided, offered the broadest look yet at the preferences of voters in both parties headed into the 2024 election.

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