Tuesday 8 February 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 8/2/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Protests too much

Nearly a week and a half since the so-called “freedom convoy” rolled into Ottawa to protest against Canada’s vaccine mandates, the city’s police and officials are regaining the upper hand in the standoff. And it’s about time. If the imagery at the start of the protests – of Nazi and Confederate flags fluttering along Parliament Hill, revellers dancing atop the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier, protesters stealing meals intended for the homeless and defecating in people’s front gardens – hasn’t been troubling enough, the official response (or lack of one) has been startling too.

Both political and police officials have consistently stated that the protest is effectively beyond their control and that any action to rein it in or to move it on would inflame matters further. That should be of deep concern. It took more than a week for Ottawa mayor Jim Watson to declare a state of emergency in the city, even though scores of businesses have been forced to close by the protesters’ presence, many residents haven’t felt safe leaving their homes and the prime minister himself remains housed at an undisclosed location for his and his family’s safety. A similar convoy in Toronto over the weekend was managed and controlled in a way that meant both residents and demonstrators could go about their business.

The right to protest is enshrined in Canada’s constitution. Proportion, however, must surely matter. The protesters’ demands – that all vaccine mandates across the country be lifted – will not be met, given that nearly 80 per cent of the population (and 90 per cent of truckers, whose union opposes the protests) has been fully jabbed and has little sympathy for the minority that hasn’t. It’s time for the protesters to go home and to do what the vast majority of Canadians have done so far: play their part in getting the country back on its feet.

For more on this story tune in to the latest episode of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Ukraine

Credible brokers?

France and Germany have played a key role in brokering deals between Russia and Ukraine in past years but their latest forays are being treated with some suspicion in Kyiv. German chancellor Olaf Scholz not only drew ire for blocking weapons exports to Ukraine but, in sharp contrast to his Russian-speaking predecessor Angela Merkel, he has been largely absent from the diplomatic stage until a visit to Washington yesterday. Filling the void has been French president Emmanuel Macron (pictured), who met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday and arrives in Kyiv today, convinced that he can broker a deal; a confidence derided by his domestic opponents as grandstanding ahead of French elections in April. A critic of Nato in the past, Macron has also sparked concern among allies with talk of a new security architecture for Europe that would accommodate Russia’s concerns. In what could be a crucial stretch of diplomacy, Macron and Scholz’s credibility as leaders is at stake.

House News / Event

Launch of ‘The Monocle Book of the Nordics’

Monocle invites you to celebrate the release of our new book, The Monocle Book of the Nordics. Discover the best of Nordic design, business, food and fashion.

Join us at one of our events in London, Zürich or Los Angeles for cocktails, Nordic bites and the chance to meet the team behind the book. We look forward to seeing you.

Image: Getty Images

Transport / Japan

Dinner carriage

In 2018, Japan’s then prime minister, Shinzo Abe, worked with the Russian government to open up a cargo route that could transport Japanese goods to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway. The initial pilot worked well, with everything from Daikin air conditioners to Honda motorbikes travelling across Russia by train. And now phase two, for refrigerated cargo, is underway.

The first consignments of chilled food, drinks and pharmaceuticals were shipped from Toyama and Kobe to Vladivostok port (pictured) in December and from there moved by rail to St Petersburg – run by Russian transport company Fesco – to be delivered by sea to Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Rail cargo had lost out to sea and air transport but pandemic disruptions and increased shipping costs have encouraged Japanese companies to broaden their logistical options. It’s early stages but Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture can already see the benefits for the country’s food and saké producers: a direct route into a receptive Russian market.

Image: Getty Images

Nuclear / Iran

Ninth time lucky?

Talks aimed at salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resume today and are widely seen as the start of make-or-break negotiations after eight previous rounds in Vienna. In a bid to entice Iran back into compliance with the deal, which was scuppered by Donald Trump in 2018, US secretary of state Antony Blinken (pictured) has signed several sanctions waivers that will allow other countries and companies to continue working with Iran on civil nuclear projects. Vali Nasr, professor of international affairs and Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins, called the waivers a “rare step” and a sign of momentum building. “Both sides, for reasons of their own, wish to get to a deal and they have confirmed that they are making progress,” Nasr tells The Monocle Minute. “The last steps require concessions in Tehran and the will to stand by a deal in Washington. That may prove easier with a potential conflict with Russia on the horizon.”

Image: Sotheby's

Art / UK

Piece of the action

Sotheby’s Original Film Posters sale, featuring promotional materials including posters, lobby cards, production stills and original artwork from a number of classic films, closes this week in London. Highlights from the 120 lots include an Italian poster for La Dolce Vita, a British poster for James Bond’s first celluloid outing, Dr No (pictured), and a rare concept poster for The Empire Strikes Back. Some items are more accessible than others, with estimates ranging from £300 (€350) to £30,000 (€35,000). But the auction is likely to appeal to a variety of tastes and preferences. Overall, the event is a reminder that while streaming and digital media services hold an increasingly tight grip on the entertainment industry, there’s nothing like latching on to the more physical, tangible aspects of your favourite flicks. Perhaps the likes of Netflix should consider entering the market for good old-fashioned movie posters as well, or else auctions such as this one will become increasingly rare.

Image: Alamy

M24 / The Menu

Sayuri tea and the Danish way to promote better eating

We meet the founder of Sayuri, an artisanal Japanese green tea and matcha brand. Also in the programme: a winery in the heart of Milan and an original way that Danish officials are promoting the country’s new dietary guidance.

Monocle Films / Global

Media on the move

We visit two bold companies finding canny ways to pivot their product for changing audiences. Transhelvetica, a Swiss magazine, and Spiritland, a London-based hospitality and audio venture, are each shaping the media landscape for the better.


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