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Trudeau says appointment of Payette was ‘rigorous’




Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will take another look at its process for nominating governors-general, in the wake of Julie Payette’s resignation last night.

Ms. Payette, an accomplished pilot and astronaut who took office in 2017, has had a rocky tenure and appeared to have struggled with the public demands of the office. An independent investigation of her office, which the government ordered last year and received this week, appeared to validate concerns of harassment in the workplace.

Mr. Trudeau was asked at his midday news conference whether Ms. Payette should have been vetted more carefully for the job, given she had earlier left a position at the Montreal Science Centre in a similar cloud.

“For all high-level appointments, there is a rigorous vetting process that was followed in this case,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters. “Obviously we will continue to look at that vetting process to ensure that it is the best possible process as we move forward.”

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The drop in Pfizer-made COVID-19 vaccine doses coming to Canada is set to worsen, but the pharmaceutical company insists it can still catch up by the end of this quarter.

Newly released documents show that a Montreal manufacturer that won a $282.5-million contract to make ventilators last year produced machines that initially had serious problems that caused delays to delivering on time. The case illustrates the challenges associated with companies that pivoted in the early months of the pandemic to make medical technology that they had not previously made.

The U.S. Senate will receive the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump on Monday.

And here is your weekend reading: Power Gap, a new Globe and Mail series by investigative journalists Robyn Doolittle and Chen Wang that gives a data-driven examination of how and why so many women are held back from positions of power and prestige in the workplace. While so much attention is paid to women in the top-most positions, the series explains how the real issues are at all levels – particularly middle management.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the original appointment of Julie Payette as governor-general: “Less than four years ago, she was Mr. Trudeau’s celebrity pick. A former astronaut, an accomplished woman, bilingual, someone who already had schools named after her. On the surface, she was the very image of the modern governor-general the still-newish Trudeau Liberals wanted. But we now know that proper vetting might have shown her temperament was ill suited for the job.”

John Fraser (The Globe and Mail) on changing the appointment process: “Whatever anyone thinks of Stephen Harper and his Conservative administration, it had developed a good system for searching out and vetting possible candidates for all the vice regal positions in Canada – the lieutenants-governor of the provinces, as well as the governor-general. It was rejected by the Trudeau PMO, although officials there liked the system well enough to adopt it for appointments they made to the new-style Senate.”

Shachi Kurl (Ottawa Citizen) on repairing the office’s public image: “In 2021, at a time when worries about being seen as too elitist have the Prime Minister himself too scared to fix the house in which he’s supposed to be living, and given that Payette herself refused to even reside at Rideau Hall, should a home and all its associated domestic trappings still come with the job? Would Canadians be better served if the whole building were opened up to them, as a gallery, or museum, or place of learning?”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s slow pace of vaccinations: ” Vaccinating as many people as we can isn’t just a matter of saving lives – although the faster we do it, the more lives we will save. It’s also a matter of some economic urgency. The country that emerges quickest from the pandemic, and from the curbs on activity most countries have adopted in response, will not only save that much more in lost GDP.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on making lockdowns more targeted: “At this point in the pandemic, we should know better than to extend curfews to homeless people, close down skating rinks and issue fines to mothers in pursuit of childcare.

Bria Hamilton (The Globe and Mail) on why the healthcare system needs to build more trust with Black Canadians: “My grandmother, my mother and I have all had extremely negative experiences with Canadian medical care. The most atrocious story was the removal of my grandmother’s uterus without her permission during unrelated surgery.”

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Source: – The Globe and Mail

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The politics of naming and renaming public spaces in India – Hindustan Times



Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration (AFP)

The politics of naming and renaming public spaces in India

Modi is the first Indian prime minister in office to get a stadium, or any other public place for that matter, named after themselves. If one looks for examples outside India, he is not in great company either
By Ronojoy Sen
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:24 PM IST

The renaming of the Motera cricket stadium as the Narendra Modi stadium created a flutter before the India-England Test match. Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration. Others saw it as the hubris and vanity of a leader who allowed a stadium to be named after him during his lifetime.

Naming and renaming of public spaces are a complicated and political business in most countries, especially so in India. After Independence, we saw a flurry of name changes as India sought to physically erase markers of the colonial legacy. In Delhi, names of landmark roads were changed — Kingsway to Rajpath and Queensway to Janpath, for instance.

This was also true in Kolkata, once the second city of the empire, where, over the years, British names were assiduously dispensed with. So Dalhousie Square, named after Governor General Dalhousie, in the heart of the city, was renamed Binoy Badal Dinesh (or BBD) Bagh (or Bag). Numerous other city landmarks were also peremptorily renamed. For instance, the name of Minto Park, named for a former viceroy, was changed to Shaheed Bhagat Singh Udyan. More interestingly, Auckland Square, named after yet another governor-general, was changed to Benjamin Moloise Square after the South African poet.

The internationalist tenor, prompted by India’s leadership of newly independent nations, was most pronounced in Delhi where roads were named after now forgotten figures like Benito Juarez. Perhaps the most amusing of the changes was in Kolkata where Harrington Street, where the American consulate is located, was renamed Ho Chi Minh Sarani during the Vietnam War. Some of these names have not stuck, the best example being Rajiv Chowk that replaced Connaught Place.

A similar impetus, but driven more by nativism, was responsible for the renaming of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore and a host of other cities from the mid-1990s. The Shiv Sena’s first stint in power in Maharashtra from 1995 also saw an aggressive championing of Marathi icons, most notably Shivaji. Several Mumbai landmarks, including the Victoria Terminus and Prince of Wales Museum, as well as the airport, were renamed after Shivaji. Since the Modi government came to power in 2014, the renaming impulse has been motivated by the erasure of India’s Islamic heritage and Muslim rule. Perhaps, the prime example is the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj. Others include the renaming of Faizabad district to Ayodhya and Mughalsarai, a major railway junction, to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar after the BJP ideologue and leader. There are more on the anvil, most notably the renaming of Ahmedabad as Karnavati.

If India has gone through bouts of renaming, the act of naming government buildings, projects and schemes has been queered by the Congress hegemony for much of independent India. While every respectable town has at least one road named after Mahatma Gandhi, the Nehru-Gandhi family has reigned supreme. According to an RTI query in 2013, a staggering 12 central and 52 state schemes, 28 sports tournaments and trophies, 19 stadiums, five airports and ports, 98 educational institutions, 51 awards, 15 fellowships, 15 national sanctuaries and parks, 39 hospitals and medical institutions, 37 other institutions, chairs and festivals and 74 roads, buildings and places were named after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. There are many who insist that the renaming of the Ahmedabad cricket stadium must be seen in the context of pushing back at the Nehru-Gandhi legacy.

However, it is more than that. Modi is the first Indian prime minister in office to get a stadium, or any other public place for that matter, named after themselves. If one looks for examples outside India, he is not in great company either.

Whatever the rationale for the renaming, it is ironical that most stadiums in India are named after politicians and administrators, and rarely sportspersons. The renaming of the Ahmedabad stadium, the largest cricket stadium in the world, perpetuated that trend.

Ronojoy Sen is senior research fellow, ISAS & SASP, National University of Singapore

The views expressed are personal

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LeBron James responds to Zlatan Ibrahimovic telling him to stay out of politics – NBC News



LOS ANGELES — LeBron James responded to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s criticism of his political activism with a promise that he will never just shut up and dribble.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar also pointed out that Ibrahimovic clearly didn’t feel the same way about spotlighting social injustices when the soccer great called out racism in his native Sweden just three years ago.

The AC Milan striker and former LA Galaxy star criticized James and other socially conscious athletes Thursday in an interview with Discovery Plus. Ibrahimovic called it “a mistake” for James and other athletes to get involved in political causes, saying they should “just do what you do best, because it doesn’t look good.”

James responded forcefully to Ibrahimovic’s stance after the Lakers’ 102-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

“I would never shut up about things that are wrong,” said James, who had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

“I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, systematic voter suppression, things that go on in our community,” James added. “I know what’s going on still, because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that’s going through the same thing, and they need a voice, and I’m their voice. I’ll use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that’s going on around this country and around the world. There’s no way I would ever just stick to sports, because I understand how powerful this platform and my voice is.”

James funds the I Promise School in his native Akron, Ohio. The third-leading scorer in NBA history also backs numerous initiatives pursuing social justice, voting rights and other progressive causes.

James also made it clear he was aware of comments made in 2018 by Ibrahimovic, the Swedish-born son of a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother.

“He’s the guy who said in Sweden, he was talking about the same things, because his last name wasn’t a (traditional Swedish) last name, he felt like there was some racism going on when he was out on the pitch,” James said. “I speak from a very educated mind. I’m kind of the wrong guy to actually go at, because I do my homework.”

Indeed, Ibrahimovic told Canal Plus that “undercover racism” caused the Swedish media and public to treat him with less respect and reverence: “This exists, I am 100% sure, because I am not Andersson or Svensson. If I would be that, trust me, they would defend me even if I would rob a bank.”

James and Ibrahimovic overlapped in Los Angeles for about 16 months from the summer of 2018 until November 2019, when Ibrahimovic went back to Europe. While Zlatan was unable to carry the Galaxy to an MLS Cup title despite playing exceptionally during two largely frustrating seasons, LeBron already won the Lakers’ 17th NBA title in his second season with the club.

They also share remarkable similarities as two astonishing athletes who have remained among the world’s best players deep into their 30s. The 36-year-old James is still one of the best all-around players in modern basketball, while the 39-year-old Ibrahimovic remains among Serie A’s scoring leaders with 14 goals in just 13 league games for Milan.

Dennis Schröder, the Lakers’ German point guard, gave his support to James and confirmed the obvious truth that Ibrahimovic’s attitude is decidedly not shared by many European athletes.

“Every athlete can use our platform and try to make change in this world,” Schröder said. “Zlatan, he’s a little different. Unique player, unique character.”

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Week In Politics: House Approves $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief Package – NPR



The Saudi crown prince may escape punishment for his order to kill a columnist. A pandemic relief package is moving through Congress. Donald Trump remains popular with conservative activists.


A few acronyms to chew over this morning – hope it doesn’t make breakfast taste flat – MBS, CPAC, OMB, if we have the time. Joining us now to spell it all out, NPR senior Washington editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning. Hope things are A-OK with you, Scott.

SIMON: (Laughter) Oh, I walked into that, didn’t I? Of course, MBS is what they call Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. U.S. officials say that he approved the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – approved it, lied about it afterwards. Not clear if President Biden will do anything in response to this finding.

ELVING: You know, the role of MBS in this murder has been widely known, both inside and outside the intel community, for roughly two years. But the Trump administration was pursuing an ever-closer relationship with the Saudis, and especially and particularly MBS. And that had a lot to do with arms sales and Israel. So the report was not released, and there was a general refusal to acknowledge the known facts.

Now, the new administration is making more of the reports public but still not doing much about it, at least not yet. The White House says we should stay tuned but suggesting only that the Saudis are on some sort of probation now. And that seems to be the best judgment within Biden’s security team. It’s not good enough for a lot of Biden’s own voters who were expecting much more severe consequences for MBS and for the Saudi regime.

SIMON: It’s irresistible to point out – first military action of the Biden administration launched this week, an airstrike against Syria because Iranian-backed militias there had attacked American assets in the region. That gets an airstrike. Saudi Arabia gets a summary.

ELVING: Yes, President Biden said that strike was a message to Iran to, quote, “be careful. You can’t act with impunity,” unquote. And in substance, it was a far more consequential response than Biden made to the Saudis, a contrast that, as you suggest, made the slap on the wrist for MBS all the more troubling.

SIMON: Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, this weekend in Orlando, the largest gathering of conservative activists. Apparently, it includes an inflatable golden bust of Donald Trump. Any room for Republicans like Liz Cheney of Wyoming or Adam Kinzinger of Illinois?

ELVING: Well, what’s the opposite of a welcome mat, Scott? Maybe skull and crossbones on the door? The obvious question is how big a tent the Republicans want. Will it be Reagan’s or Bush’s or Trump’s tent? And will those people who were not welcome at CPAC be part of the party’s campaigns in 2022 and 2024? We’ll stay tuned.

SIMON: A $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package has passed the House, and President Biden spoke about that today at the White House.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We are one step closer to putting $1,400 in the pockets of Americans. We are one step closer to extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who were shortly going to lose them. We are one step closer to helping millions of Americans feed their families and keep a roof over their head. We are one step closer to getting our kids safely back in school.

SIMON: But, Ron, Senate rules won’t allow another thing that the president wanted, which is a hike in the minimum wage.

ELVING: The good news for the White House is that the rest of this relief bill seems remarkably popular, even with some Trump voters. So with the minimum wage issue set aside to be dealt with separately later this year possibly, the overall bill seems increasingly likely to be law.

SIMON: Finally, Neera Tanden is President Biden’s pick to lead OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. As a partisan political figure, she made some colorful observations about some U.S. senators whose votes she may not get now.

ELVING: One lesson here is that a 50-50 Senate truly empowers the individual senator. So losing one or two can cost you your power to act. And that’s a lesson we’re likely to learn over and over. And another lesson is that even in the age of Trump Twitter, what others say on social media can still come back to haunt them.

SIMON: NPR’s senior Washington editor Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott.

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