The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 7 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

What’s the point of Canada?

Where is Canada? It’s not a question that’s just being asked of primary school students by geography teachers in the far corners of the world but also of millions of Canadians who are about to head to the polls. As the nation has seen a series of high-profile corporate stumbles by its home-grown global brands (are you reading this on a BlackBerry?), it’s also seen its status slide on the world stage, particularly in diplomatic circles. “On the one hand the government wants to be seen in the global game by sending CF-18 aircraft into conflicts but it’s also quite happy to sell off embassies and stick diplomats in pokey office buildings. It undermines our credibility,” one Canadian official told Monocle in Istanbul. “We used to be known for doing our bit all over the world and punching well above our weight. Now the Brazilians and many others dance circles around us.” Unfortunately for Canadian voters, there’s not much on offer in the way of a big global vision. With polling day fast approaching, one of the parties might want to take ownership of Canada’s position on the international stage and put forth a compelling policy.

Image: Getty Images

Paddy power

Japanese farmers have been slow to industrialise and innovate and the sector is on the wane. So what do you do if you make farming machinery and see your market stagnate and even shrink? According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the answer is: start farming. Kubota, one of Japan’s leading farm machinery firms, has announced that it will partner with farmers on a total of 10 sq km of land to develop better methods of harvesting rice in mountainous regions, cold-weather areas and other unique terrain. But while this may boost yields, it will not overcome the shrinking numbers of farmers or their rising average age.

Image: ARTINTERNATIONAL - Istanbul

Bullish in ’bul

Despite the Turkish lira’s recent plummet following the country’s unresolved elections and regional strife, it seems there’s still money to buy art. This weekend Istanbul hosted the ArtInternational fair for its third edition. Comprised of 87 galleries from 27 countries, ArtInternational positions itself squarely at the top end of the market, according to its founder Sandy Angus. He remains confident about the appetite of collectors: “Without question, Turkish buyers – while they’re not worried about the economy per se – might easily put off a purchase that they might otherwise have made. But good art will always be chased by good collectors.”

Image: Marvin Zilm

It’s a blossoming market

As North America settles in to enjoy Labor Day, many will be taking stock of their outdoor furniture, grills and other terrace accessories and thinking about whether it’s time for an upgrade. Fortunately, Köln’s Messe had everything covered last week with its Spoga+Gafa garden and outdoor furniture expo. While the barbecue is becoming more advanced (grills got their very own hall this year, complete with girls in dirndls serving up sausages), furniture is going back to basics with more reclaimed wood and sustainable bamboo. Best in show? We think Swiss brands such as Schaffner are getting it right with sturdy classic products that don’t run the risk of blowing off the balcony.

From Monocle 24

Image: Abra Producciones

Is Argentina the coolest ice-cream capital?

In Buenos Aires an entrepreneurial couple are scooping all the accolades with their inventive recipes. Will they get a frosty reception? Listen to this report from Monocle 24’s food and drink show, The Menu.

From Monocle Films

Turkey’s wild side

The people of Trabzon are tough, patriotic and proud of their culture: be it a spot of folk dancing or packing a pistol. Meet the frontier folk of the Black Sea port.

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