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‘Before we go about trying to save the world, how about we get our own house in order first?’: The best comments from Hub readers this week

Commentary

This week’s Hub Forum saw readers providing their input into Canada’s growing hospital wait times, the nature of government spending, the state of news media in Canada, and global affairs, including the meeting between President Biden and President Xi and Canada’s relations with the European Union.

The goal of Hub Forum is to bring the impressive knowledge and experience of The Hub community to the fore and to foster open dialogue and the competition of differing ideas in a respectful and productive manner. Here are some of the most interesting comments from this past week.

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Changing how we fund hospitals to put the patient first could help eliminate health-care wait times, policy experts say

Monday, November 20, 2023

“Health Commissions need to be re-established at arm’s length from the politicians, negotiate rates with specialists and hospitals, and they need to develop a primary care system, disease management programs, and introduce insurance concepts like premiums, pays and deductibles, etc. The hospitals and their specialists should then be free to provide additional self-pay ‘private’ services to others, subject to meeting their public system responsibilities.”

Dennis Egan

A fiscal reckoning is coming for Canada

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

“The federal government should stick to federal issues, defence, immigration, border security, etc. Leave provincial issues, such as dental care and housing, to the provinces. Instead of dollars going to provinces for health care, it should be tax points. Eventually, our federal taxation would lower and provincial tax rates would rise.”

Alice Barr

“The urgency with which we collectively deal with this reckoning will be a reflection of we, the citizenry. It seems to be irresistibly tempting, for federal governments, in particular, to spend imprudently when the political benefits are primarily gained today and the costs borne tomorrow.

We will either begin to punish governments for imprudent and chronic spending-revenue imbalances or wait until it gets to crisis levels and do it under duress. Alas, I see the glass as half-empty in this case.”

Rob Tyrrell

“It is entirely reasonable for a society to decide that it wants a larger, more expensive government in the name of equality or whatever. I think for instance of Denmark which has quite a large government that its citizens apparently value. The difference is the Danes value it enough to pay for it.

If we want to have a bigger government, we have to be prepared to pay for it over the long run. Big government on the cheap isn’t a sustainable model. As I say in the article, something eventually has to give.

There is some onus in my mind therefore on progressives to not merely make the case for a larger government. They must also make the case for the tax increases to pay for it.”

Sean Speer (editor-at-large at The Hub)

It’s the end of an era for news—the industry can either adapt or die

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

“It reminds me a bit of that old adage: What is the definition of insanity? Continuing to do the same things and expecting different results. For me, I want to see the ‘news media’ as a source of accurate news and much less editorializing and personal opinions.”

Gregory Kett

“The great news is that there are lots of fellow citizens that want to do quality journalism. As per the article, flawed legacy news media and government need to ‘get out of the way of those building a future for journalism.’ We are in a delayed transition period due to government picking winners and competing directly via the CBC. They should at least stop making things worse.

Most of the modest measures in the article would facilitate the conditions for a competitive and flourishing news ecosystem (fueled by journalism—investigating, reporting, and sense-making) that serves citizens and our democracy.

Such an ecosystem, without ‘interference,’ will naturally be digital so there may be no need to encourage digital mediums specifically via incentives.”

Rob Tyrrell

“I understand radio news needing to get to remote communities, but we’ve now come to a time when the internet is available in more regions. Privately funded journalism brings competition and will up the level of competency.”

David Wright

A humbled China may be looking to de-escalate tensions with the West as its economy falters, analysts say

Thursday, November 23, 2023

“As we enter an age of automation China will require fewer and fewer people to manage and operate the ‘world’s workshop.’ Plus they have already built much of the infrastructure so will continue to benefit from that. They can also outsource globally while retaining control. So as far as continuing to make everything for the world they can manage that.

Similar principle for their military—how many drone operating couch warriors will it take to sink the US 7th fleet? Things are changing and they won’t need the same numbers of people to continue.

The only problem will be their internal consumer markets which will impact their economy overall. But that won’t impact their industrial or military might.”

— Mike Fortier

As EU leaders visit Newfoundland, the message is clear: It’s time to step up, Canada

Friday, November 24, 2023

“This goes beyond trade. We have more pressing issues to resolve. And until we do, we will never achieve Laurier’s vision of Canada being ‘the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come.’

Frum was spot on in saying our country is ‘in the grips of an ideology that is very dangerous to the health and safety of Canadians.’ He added, with succinct accuracy, that the ‘greatest superpower of democracy is the power of self-correction’. This is a power within Canada that is about to ignite.

Prime Minister Trudeau, for all his faults, has performed an immense public service through his actions over the last 10 years, exposing many glaring weaknesses within our political and governmental structures. These weaknesses have allowed that dangerous ideology to grow and thrive, further eroding our ability to function as a democracy and to grow an economy whose primary strength has been its immense and abundant natural resources. Our domestic and international decline under his watch has been spectacular. Despite this, I am optimistic that future historians will regard the next two years as the moment we recognized the need to ignite that power of self-correction that Frum says is within us.

Before we go about trying to save the world, how about we get our own house in order first?”

RJKWells

Malcolm Jolley: Whites for dinner

Commentary

I received an email this week from a wine importer promoting a Prosecco advent calendar. Produced and assembled by the well-established producer Canella, the calendar is really a $200 case of 24 small 200 ml bottles of tank-made bubbly. Most mornings I really prefer orange juice, coffee, and water before at least eleven, even in December, so I’m not sure the liquid calendar fits with my lifestyle.In my experience, there is almost always a bottle of Prosecco in an ice bucket at the breakfast buffet provided by Italian hotels. Also in my experience, I have never actually seen anyone partake in the first thing in the morning fizz on offer. But, surely, some people must? Still, I like that the idea exists, and if I were in the corporate gifts world, I would be tempted to send a few to my best clients for fun.

A glass of sparkling wine in the morning seems pretty louche, but I suppose it wouldn’t get one into too much trouble, provided that was it (at least until lunch). Certainly, it seems pretty tame compared to whatever prompted the story that came out last month about the California brunch restaurant that offered bottomless mimosas and a $50 clean-up fee for anyone found throwing up in their restrooms.When I gave this story a Google to find a link, I discovered that the vomit fee may well have been a Canadian invention based on this 2021 story from BlogTO. That this was happening mid-COVID strikes me as rather impressive. I don’t want to be old-fashioned, but this may be a sign that wine and breakfast don’t really mix.

Wine and dinner certainly do, though. And, increasingly by my observation, white wine is at the table for the day’s last meal.

Exhibit A: My wife and I recently hosted a dinner party made of old friends to mark a birthday. Some wine was consumed. And while both kinds were on offer and poured before, during, and after dinner, a thin majority of it turned out to be white wine by the recycling bin tally the next morning. The numbers were aided by at least one guest who stuck to white all through dinner, and a few others who switched back to white after.

Exhibit B: I attended a mid-week dinner talk recently and was seated at a table of eight. As I recall, of the six of us seated who took wine with our salad and chicken breast, half (including me) stuck to white.

Exhibit C: The British trade magazine website, The Drinks Business, reported this month that University of California Davis scientists have discovered a molecule, quercetin, which they believe causes headaches in some people when it’s combined with alcohol. The molecule, or “flavonoid” is most prominently found in the skins of grapes. It is extended contact with skins, especially thick ones like on Cabernet Sauvignon, that makes wine red.If the article about quercetin and red wine headaches explains the phenomenon correctly, and if the sufferers wished to avoid the headaches but still drink red wine, then a successful course of action might be to try red wines made from thin-skinned grapes. These are usually from cooler climate regions since thick skins protect grapes from sunshine and heat dehydration. Pinot Noir from Canada or Northern Europe would be a good candidate to experiment with.

It seems that some people really do get red wine headaches. This was the explanation of our guest who stuck to white at the dinner party. Since she started, her husband often goes along and joins her happily.

If pathology isn’t enough to cause red wine avoidance, then vanity might. Two decades of frequent professional wine tasting (and a fair amount of off-hours wine drinking) have worn at the enamel of my teeth. I have veneers for some teeth, but the ones I don’t stain easily, and there’s no veneer for purple lips. Sticking to white at dinner parties or public events makes for better photo-ops, as well as easier to clean spills if things go really wrong.

There is also the matter of alcohol. No rule in the wine world is without many exceptions, but by and large white wines have less alcohol than red ones. Or at least, red wines are more likely to be made in a big, high-alcohol style than white ones. Whether for clarity of mind or kindness to the liver, a move to lower-alcohol wines is often easier by sticking to white, especially if one’s options are limited.

The best reason to drink white wine with dinner, though, is that it tastes good. Some foods really do go better with white wines, like an omelette or shellfish. And there is the matter of continuity. If I have opened a white wine as an aperitif before dinner, and if the dinner works with red or white wine, like a vegetable pasta, it’s easier to keep on the white than to open a new bottle of red.

Again, all wine world rules come with many exceptions, but by and large, the white wines that work best for heartier dinner foods lie on the fuller, weightier, and rounder flavour spectrum, as opposed to the crisper more aromatic end. I mean, I am more likely to pour a Chardonnay with a mushroom lasagne than a Sauvignon Blanc. Scallops would be another story, though.

White wines that show oak have become so unfashionable they may be becoming fashionable again. In any event, I have successfully paired subtly oaked Chardonnay or white Côtes-du-Rhône with slices of roast beef or steak while I was carving and still sipping the before-dinner wine. The tannins from the barrels function like the ones from red grapes and meld nicely into the fatty meat.

Life is short and the list of wines is long. If you prefer to drink white with dinner once in a while, or every time, then know you are in good company and of sound reason.