Leaders that are part of the NATO military alliance are gathered in London today for group and bilateral meetings.
It comes as cracks are forming in NATO. U.S. President Donald Trump has stirred controversy in the alliance by complaining that his country is shouldering too much of the burden of financing the mutual defence group. Turkey, which exists at the nexus of Europe, Russia and the Middle East, has pursued its own agenda, especially as it relates to action in Syria. French President Emmanuel Macron has been particularly critical of Turkey, which has led to German Chancellor Angela Merkel asking him to cool it. And on financial matters, European moves to tax foreign tech giants – ones like Facebook, that are largely based in the United States – has led to the U.S. to threaten tariffs on champagne and other French goods. (The EU says it is ready to retaliate to the retaliation.)
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg preached harmony as the leaders gathered. “We should never question the unity and willingness, the political willingness, to stand and defend each other, because the whole purpose of NATO is to preserve peace, to prevent conflict,” he said.
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As tensions between the U.S. and China continue to simmer, and as Canada continues to weigh whether to allow Huawei access to its next-generation 5G mobile network, the founder of the Chinese telecom giant says he is moving the company’s research centre to Canada from the U.S. Huawei has been at the centre of geopolitical tensions not just because of the national security concerns surrounding its possible entry into 5G, but because its chief financial officer was arrested in Vancouver last year by Canadian authorities who were acting on a U.S. extradition request. In response, China arrested two Canadians. Former deputy prime minister John Manley – who currently works with Telus, which uses Huawei technology – said Canada should just exchange the Chinese businesswoman for the two Canadians, an act that was blasted by a former ambassador as normalizing “hostage diplomacy.” Reuters says the White House has considered banning Huawei from the U.S. financial system.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump says a possible trade deal with China is unlikely to come before next year’s election.
And premiers want the federal government to take the cap off the fiscal stabilization program, so they can receive more than the current $60-per-capita maximum. Alberta, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have all received millions of dollars from the program in recent years, after it went unused for more than a decade.
Globe and Mail editorial board on Canada-China relations: “While there was a time when its party dictatorship appeared to be moving closer to democratic norms, with the Communist Party dispensing with cults of personality and loosening party control, under Xi Jinping that trend is aggressively reversing. It is now clear that Beijing joined the international community’s institutions without sharing the international community’s practices and values.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the meeting of the premiers: “But the federal government collects the lion’s share of the taxes. That tension between federal resources and provincial responsibility shapes the politics of our federation. That is why premiers aren’t just whining – usually – when they demand more money from Ottawa. They need that money. In a just world, the federal government would transfer much of its taxing authority to the provinces. But it won’t. So we’re left with this.”
Martha Hall Findlay and Sarah Pittman (The Globe and Mail) on interprovincial trade barriers: “Barriers remain that create inefficiencies, that in turn cost businesses, consumers and taxpayers; limit overall economic activity and growth; and impede businesses’ achievement of economies of scale through access to a whole-of-Canada market. They limit our global competitiveness, which reduces export and investment opportunities and makes Canada less attractive for both domestic and foreign investment.”
André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on public versus private health insurance: “Health insurance programs rely on the healthy subsidizing the unhealthy, a tough sell in a me-first world. There are no fully public systems, because the state cannot afford to provide all care to all people all the time. Similarly, there are no countries with uniquely private insurance options, because a good chunk of the population would never be able to afford coverage.”
Jason Markusoff (Maclean’s) on support for Andrew Scheer’s leadership of the Conservative Party in Alberta: “Alberta Tories have, in Kenney, a leader that excites them. Similarly to Stephen Harper, charisma is not a part of Scheer’s brand. But at least with Harper, Conservatives grew enamoured by his toughness. Many want to feel something like that again.”
Allison Hanes (Montreal Gazette) on women in politics: “The Polytechnique shooting was — and is — a reminder of how far women have come, how far they still have to go and the dangers of taking progress for granted. Dec. 6 has become an important occasion to call out violence against women, in all its forms. But examining the experiences of women in positions of power is another telling barometer. And unfortunately, double standards and putting up with vile online attacks are among the challenges female leaders face in 2019.”