The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 17 December 2018

Energy

Image: Alamy

Fan the flames

A row over an oil pipeline is fuelling a trade spat between two Canadian provinces.

A feud is threatening to erupt in Canada between the country’s most hotheaded provinces. When Québec’s premier François Legault said that there is no “social acceptability” in building an oil pipeline in his increasingly green province, people in Alberta – Canada’s largest oil producer and the source of said pipeline – were not pleased. Politician Brian Jean has now called for Albertans to boycott all products from Quebec. Albertans spend billions each year on goods and services from Québec, especially when it comes to insurance and banking services. But if any lesson can be gleaned from 2018, it’s that trade wars are never without unexpected consequences. Let’s hope that Albertans and Quebeckers can resolve their oil stand-off before things get sticky.

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Plane crazy

Japan is upgrading its aircraft carriers so that they can launch fighter jets – but does the move violate its pacifist constitution?

When its meets tomorrow, Japan’s cabinet is expected to approve an important semantic change to the country’s military guidelines: the Maritime Self-Defense Forces’ Izumo-class aircraft carriers will now be referred to as “multipurpose destroyers”. The change reflects the government’s plans for upgrades that will enable the vessels to transport and launch fighter jets for the first time. It also comes after Japan – concerned about China’s assertiveness and North Korea’s weapons programmes – announced record-high military spending of ¥27trn (€214bn) from next year until 2023. Tokyo has stressed that the Izumo-class vessels, which carry helicopters and sophisticated weaponry, are mainly for peacekeeping, search-and-rescue, mine-clearing, anti-piracy and disaster-relief missions. But critics say that parking fighter jets on naval vessels violates the defensive mandate of Japan’s military and the spirit of its pacifist constitution.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Giving it his all

The new president of Mexico seems intent on being the man of the people – but will he stick to his promises?

Mexico’s newly inaugurated president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as Amlo), likes to present himself as a statesman with the common touch. Last week he opened up the presidential residence Los Pinos to the public (formerly the place was shrouded in secrecy). He also unveiled plans to turn it into a cultural centre: residing and working in a lavish presidential palace conflicts with his everyman image. He’s setting high expectations in other areas too: he’s pledged to raise minimum wage and pensions, introduce guaranteed schooling, create jobs for 2.6 million youths and has even vouched to lower his own salary. Whether genuine or contrived, such promises may point to a leader more preoccupied with magnanimous public acts than the practicalities of office.

Architecture

Make an entrance

The latest addition to Berlin’s Museum Island promises thoughtful and harmonious passage for visitors.

This summer visitors to Berlin’s Museum Island will be delighted by an elegant new entrance building designed by David Chipperfield Architects. The James Simon Galerie was handed over to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin last week and will now be fitted with a temporary exhibition space and an intimate auditorium containing 300 seats. Museum Island, a Unesco World Heritage site, has been undergoing a grand restoration following a master plan that was drawn up in 1999. While the new building will serve mainly as an in-between space through which large groups can pass (the island projects six million tourists per year), its design illustrates a commitment to creating a coherent and calm journey for visitors.

From Monocle 24

Diverse artistry

Sunday Brunch

We meet two artists who traverse genres. Plus: how to bring joy to your everyday, weekend papers and we try some British savoury buns.

From Monocle Films

Mipcom: screen grab

We travel to Mipcom, the annual tradeshow in Cannes, to meet the movers and shakers defining the future of the film and television industry.

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