Monday 19 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 19/6/2023

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Amy Van Den Berg

Heated debate

While the world watched wildfires rage across Canada this month, questions hovered in the smoky air: are these the effects of climate change? Is this the future of Canadian summers? As the number of fires climbed into the hundreds, Environment Canada issued air-quality warnings across the country. The smoke has now reached as far as northern Europe. Despite being the nation’s worst wildfire season to date, it has unfortunately failed to attract the political discussion it deserves. This week parliament will meet for the last time before the summer break. If the recent cyclical and insipid political exchanges are any indication, Canadians are further away than ever from achieving an effective policy that will prevent future fires.

The Conservatives, led by Pierre Poilievre, have homed in on economic concerns surrounding inflation and housing costs. Their aim is to pressurise the Liberals into cutting federal spending and delivering a balanced budget plan. Justin Trudeau has used the disaster to justify his party’s carbon-tax policy, drawing ire and mistrust from the right and continuing a debate that has circulated throughout the House of Commons for the better part of 15 years.

Image: Getty Images

To be fair, the government doesn’t have a completely hands-off approach: it has expanded its federal assistance programme and increased funding to fight fires across the country, including a “Wildfire Resilient Futures Initiative” with a proposed investment of CA$284m (€196m‎). This is an adaptive, not preventative, approach which is important, but more is needed.

With the smoke drifting towards the American Midwest and even further afield across the Atlantic, the worst may already be over. But the wildfire season is only beginning and with the country’s leaders caught up in the tangle of a self-serving debate, many burning questions on its future remain unanswered.

Amy Van Den Berg is Monocle Books deputy editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Politics / USA

Crossed wires

Joe Biden travels to California today as part of a fundraising trip in an effort to raise cash for his 2024 re-election bid. The US president will mingle with climate, technology and private equity leaders, attending an event hosted by Microsoft’s chief technology officer Kevin Scott, his wife Shannon Hunt-Scott (president of The Scott Foundation philanthropy group) and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. Biden’s push comes as Donald Trump continues to drum up financial support from supporters in the face of mounting legal troubles.

Image: Reuters

According to the Republican frontrunner’s campaign, Trump has raised $6.6m (€6m) since news of his (second) federal indictment broke. Biden’s ability to secure crucial donations of his own will be key as the US gears up for what promises to be a bruising election. With the technology industry welcoming stronger ties to the president amid calls for greater regulation in the US, his choice of donors may cause scepticism.

Diplomacy / TURKEY & IRAQ

Greasing the wheels

Today, a Turkish delegation is scheduled to hold a meeting with Iraqi officials in Baghdad, to discuss resuming Iraq’s northern oil exports. The meeting comes after a ruling in March by the International Chamber of Commerce that Turkey must halt imports from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, which had been exporting oil without Baghdad’s consent. Exports through the Iraq-Turkey crude oil pipeline (pictured), which amounted to 450,000 barrels per day, have been halted since the ruling, costing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) more than $2bn (€1.8bn) in losses and Turkey $1.5bn (€1.3bn) in damages.

Image: Reuters

Ankara was involved in a litigious action against the KRG, which threatened its relationship with a relatively ethical oil producer. Since Iraqi Kurdistan is relatively stable and democratic, and Turkey can no longer import Russian oil, Western observers will be hoping that the two parties can end the dispute soon.

Art / Basel

Here to stay

The Basel Social Club – a pop-up arts venue – was launched by a group of gallerists, artists and curators in 2022. Taking place this year in a former mayonnaise factory previously owned by Nestlé (pictured), the venue is set to become a permanent fixture. Over the next decade, much of the main building will be turned into an institution focused on contemporary dance and the performing arts, with multiple halls and residential spaces for international creatives.

Image: Shutterstock

The move is part of a broader regeneration project, launched by the canton of Basel in 2016, which aims to breathe new life into the riverside Klybeck district. It also seeks to restore the city’s status as an important cultural hub while attracting younger crowds. Despite being one of the epicentres of the global art market, Basel has some room to grow when it comes to featuring up-and-coming talent: whipping up this new venue is a good place to start.

Urbanism / Ho Chi Minh City

Open road

Construction of Ho Chi Minh City’s highly anticipated Belt Road 3, which is expected to be completed by 2026, officially started yesterday. The project promises to relieve pressure on the Vietnamese city’s transport system by connecting its eastern and western extremes with a 76.3km highway. Four commuter lanes will connect key areas of the city and help the flow of goods for industry, improving accessibility to the suburbs and centre alike.

Image: Nguoi Lao Dong

Aside from the €2.9bn budget for Belt Road 3, Ho Chi Minh City authorities have also announced plans to enhance urban living with the expansion of public parks and the creation of new green spaces by 2025. The projects should go to great lengths to solve gridlock and improve air quality in the notoriously congested city.

Monocle Radio / The Entrepreneurs

Martinhal Residences and The Gentle Wine

We’re in Lisbon to meet Chitra Stern who, with her husband, Roman, created Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts, which has reimagined luxury family holidays. She tells Monocle about her latest endeavour, Martinhal Residences. Plus: we head to Berlin to clink glasses with Moritz Zyrewitz, co-founder of a gentle, lower-alcohol German wine brand.

Monocle Films / Food & Drink

How to make Indonesian corn fritters

Learn how to make crispy corn fritters with London-based chef Rahel Stephanie, who spreads the joy of Indonesian cuisine as she talks us through the steps and cooks up a bountiful feast with all of the recipes detailed in Konfekt.


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