Thursday. 9/4/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Making a statement

On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau announced the largest-ever peacetime mobilisation of Canadian business. Homegrown companies will now play a central role in manufacturing medical supplies as part of Canada’s effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Outerwear brands Canada Goose and Arc’teryx will produce medical gowns for hospital staff; car-parts maker Linamar will make 30,000 ventilators alongside other manufacturers; and Bauer – the ice-hockey equipment brand that was founded in Canada in 1927 and is now headquartered in the US – has begun making face protectors for Canadian medical personnel.

The move is a significant pivot for Trudeau, whose approval rating has soared due to his handling of the outbreak. But it is also a statement of intent to Canada’s neighbour to the south – its largest trading partner. Last week, Donald Trump initiated a diplomatic spat between Washington and Ottawa by criticising the export of US-made masks to Canada at a time when many parts of the US reported medical-supply shortages (for which some have blamed Trump himself).

Trudeau has held firm, making it clear to Washington that trade is a two-way street even in a time of crisis. Knowingly, perhaps, Canada’s prime minister has taken a leaf out of Trump’s own “America First” playbook for this latest manufacturing manoeuvre: in contrast to the outward-looking economic policies that have characterised Trudeau’s premiership so far, Tuesday’s announcement was peppered with the phrase “Made in Canada”. Although “we’re all in this together” has become a slogan for many Canadians during the outbreak, that no longer seems to apply to the US, with which its economy is so intertwined. It appears that Washington’s moves are in danger of leaving it very much on its own.

Elections / USA

Exit, stage left

For a man seen by many as a figurehead of revolutionary change, Bernie Sanders’ decision to quit at a time when the world is distracted was always going to be tough. In an online message to supporters yesterday, Sanders admitted that he could not “in good conscience” continue his campaign for US president and distract from tackling the coronavirus outbreak. But make no mistake: Sanders (pictured) isn’t going anywhere. The senator for Vermont made clear that he had won “the ideological battle” and suggested that his support for the now-presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden (for whom he offered a tepid one-line endorsement in a 15-minute concession speech, calling him a “very decent man”) would be based in part on just how “progressive” the Democratic party’s platform is come November’s election. Although Sanders certainly has no love for Donald Trump, yesterday’s announcement suggested that he still has a decision to make about what’s more important to him: radical change or uniting the Democratic party.

Business / Japan

Homeward bound

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has upset global supply chains: Japan’s Nintendo, for example, announced on Tuesday that it is halting shipping of its popular Switch console (pictured) from China due to hiccups in production. In response, the Japanese government is preparing a ¥240bn (€2bn) incentive package for businesses with offshore manufacturing that want to shift their production home. The fund – part of a broader ¥108trn (€915bn) economic stimulus package – will help to cover the expense of moving factory operations: two thirds of costs will be subsidised for small to medium-sized enterprises and half for larger companies (such as Nintendo) if they move their manufacturing back to Japan. The ratio is even larger for companies supplying urgent needs such as masks and medical gowns. While globalisation will not be halted by this virus, Japan’s move is the latest sign that big changes to how we do business are coming.

Society / Austria

Turning the page

As some countries in Europe begin to consider when shops can pull up their shutters, bookshops could be among the first in Austria to welcome customers again. The country was the first to announce that its small retailers might be allowed to open their doors – and it could happen after Easter. But not all Austrian booksellers are enthusiastic. Some believe that staff would be safer and more productive taking online orders, which have shot up over the past few weeks. The decision to open is one for each seller to make but the early go-ahead for these shops still sends a positive message: books have proved to be essential goods for people’s wellbeing in quarantine. Governments should issue specific guidance to ensure that shops are not overcrowded and booksellers can be smart about how they keep things running. Customers have shown that they have the patience to queue for groceries; now that same respectful principle can apply to stocking up on cultural essentials.

Design / USA

Frank admissions

For those of us who have become very well acquainted with our apartments over the past few weeks, the thought of exploring someone else’s house is a rather exciting one. Fortunately, a new initiative spearheaded by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy allows you to do just that. Every Thursday the organisation is pairing two of the US architect’s most iconic sites for a virtual visit. “What makes this initiative special is that it isn’t a standard tour that someone would take but a personal and friendly exchange between two sites that everyone can experience,” says Barbara Gordon, executive director of the conservancy, who will host today’s walk of a site in Oak Park, Illinois, where Wright lived and worked. Wright’s belief in organic architecture feels extremely pertinent right now, with city dwellers being so detached from nature. A virtual tour of the calming and serene Fallingwater (pictured) in rural Pennsylvania could go some way towards alleviating that.

M24 / Food Neighbourhoods

Recipe edition, Nuno Mendes

We continue our series of recipes from some of the world’s best chefs. This time we hear from Portuguese maestro Nuno Mendes.

Monocle Films / Turkey

Building a place for culture

We visit a Kengo Kuma-designed art museum in Eskisehir that’s set to become Turkey’s new cultural hotspot.

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