Monday 16 May 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 16/5/2022

The Monocle Minute

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Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Right direction?

Columnists and commentators in Canada have mused for some time on whether a febrile, Trump-style populist conservatism can take root in Canada in the same way that it has south of its border. Recent events suggest that it might – the conspiracy-fuelled blockade of Ottawa in February and increasing support for the hard-right People’s Party of Canada in last September’s general election among them. And now it’s a question for Canada’s Progressive Conservatives, the country’s largest national opposition party, which is in the throes of an unusually raucous leadership contest.

The previous Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, was ousted unceremoniously at the beginning of the year at the height of the truckers’ blockade. He was undone ultimately by a perceived indecisiveness on a large range of issues. That might explain why many of those vying to succeed him carved out a tougher and, arguably, narrower vision for Canada in their first televised debate last week. Frontrunner Pierre Poilievre has run the most provocative campaign so far. He’s adopted US campaign tropes for his leadership bid, is making a curious bet on bitcoin for his economic policy and has vowed to remove the (ostensibly independent) governor of Canada’s central bank from his post.

By tapping into unease over soaring housing costs across the country, Poilievre (pictured, far right) believes that he’s found an area with universal appeal. And yet this all still feels like a gamble for the Conservatives. Pandering to minority views hasn’t, broadly speaking, played well for the party during the past year or so. Canadians deserve to be offered a more serious conservative alternative to a Trudeau government, which will have been in power for a decade by the time the next general election rolls around. It isn’t clear how playing to the peanut gallery of fringe and minority views will fulfil that for a majority of Canadian voters.

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Defence / Japan

Heavy burden

From the end of the Second World War until 1972, Japan’s southernmost islands were under US occupation; yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s handover back to Japan. But despite the reversion, the US continues to concentrate its military presence on the islands: 70 per cent of the land occupied by US bases is in Okinawa, up from 59 per cent in 1972. Crimes and accidents committed by US military personnel have long upset the locals and last week, ahead of the anniversary, governor Denny Tamaki called for fundamental changes to the disproportionate burdens that Okinawa bears for Japan’s peace and security, including a revision of the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. Amid the unstable geopolitics of East Asia, Okinawa’s strategic importance is becoming greater than ever. But Tokyo and Washington need to find a better balance between domestic and international considerations if they hope to maintain a military presence for another 50 years.

Image: Alamy

Media / Global

Read all about it

Making digital pay is not easy: while certain print titles have defied the odds by creating in-depth weekend editions that readers like to pore over, online advertising alone doesn’t cut it for many organisations. So titles have branched out into side hustles, from games and dating platforms to recipes and job listings – but how far can (or should) a newspaper stray from the news to top up its coffers? Can we rethink our approach to digital news, or are paywalls and subscriptions the only way forward?

To consider the future of newspapers, we brought together an expert panel of New York-based designer and strategist Mario Garcia, deputy director of Portugal’s weekly paper Expresso Paula Santos and Carsten Knop, one of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s four editors and the mastermind behind its digital offering in Monocle’s May issue. The consensus? There’s a place for digital spin-offs but only if they align with the original brand. Readers will pay for trustworthy content that they consider essential – whether in print or online.

To read more about the future of newspapers, pick up Monocle’s May issue or subscribe today.

Image: Alamy

Energy / Portugal

Place in the sun

Portugal has built Europe’s largest floating solar farm, joining the Western effort to cut reliance on fossil fuels after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Made up of 12,000 panels and the size of four football fields, the array was pulled into position by two tugboats in the Alqueva hydroelectric dam near the Spanish border last week and is preparing to go online in early July. Floating solar farms are useful because they don’t waste large tracts of land and easily connect to the electric grid when built near hydroelectric dams.

The floating solar farm will generate 7.5 gigawatt hours of electricity a year – enough to power some 1,500 homes – and operate at a fraction of the cost of a gas-fired power plant. It also brings Portugal one step closer to its goal of being 80 per cent green by 2026 – and serves as a good precedent for coastal nations looking to pivot away from oil and gas.

Image: Shutterstock

Transport / New Zealand

Air support

While cable cars are mostly associated with tourist traps or alpine destinations, they can also be a useful mode of transit when properly integrated in a city’s transport network. That’s what Austrian firm Doppelmayr has in mind with its proposal for a new gondola line across Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. The project envisions a 4.2km line linking Wynyard Quarter, Bayswater and the Akoranga bus station. The price tag of NZ$200m (€120m) is a bargain compared to Auckland’s now-shelved considerations for a pedestrian and cycling bridge across the harbour.

However, adding air transit to a network is not as easy as it seems – just look at London’s Emirates Air Line across the Thames. But if done properly it can be a worthwhile complement to public transit. La Paz in Bolivia is a city that got it right, all because it identified the right gaps in its network. Perhaps there is a future for an air-crossing of Waitemata after all.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Global Countdown

Italy’s pop charts

Fernando Augusto Pacheco looks at the top songs in Italy as the country prepares to host the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: May issue, 2022

Monocle’s latest issue sets out the benchmarks (and benches) for a better world as we put the 50 recipients of this year’s Monocle Design Awards in the spotlight. Elsewhere, we visit the rugged terrain of northern Norway to witness one of the biggest military drills in Nato’s history and George Town to explore how Malaysia’s tropical tech hub is booming. Order your copy today from The Monocle Shop.


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