City breaks culturels 2019 : un musée, une ville

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Richmond exhibe un nouvel Institut d’art contemporain en passe de devenir son identité visuelle. Kaohsiung a inauguré le plus grand centre culturel du monde. Doha s’apprête à dévoiler son spectaculaire Musée national dessiné par Jean Nouvel. Trois gestes architecturaux forts, trois nouvelles destinations improbables.

L’institut d’art Contemporain: À Richmond, en Virginie

Au printemps dernier était inauguré le très attendu Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) de la Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) à Richmond, capitale de l’Etat de Virginie. Située sur la côte Est, à 160 km au sud de Washington, établie en 1607 à l’embouchure de la James River, la ville est une des plus vieilles des Etats-Unis. Entre les sommets des Appalaches et les plages de l’Atlantique, l’ancienne métropole sudiste, profondément marquée par la guerre de Sécession, est chargée d’une histoire complexe.

.Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA)
.Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) Iwan Baan

Elle affiche un patrimoine varié: maisons de style fédéral, capitole de l’Etat de Virginie, Maison blanche de la Confédération, cathédrale… Démocrate, dynamique, universitaire, elle inspire aujourd’hui les artistes et figure en bonne place au palmarès mondial des meilleures scènes de street art. Avec l’ICA, dessiné par le cabinet new-yorkais Steven Holl Architects, un bâtiment écoresponsable abritant près de 1 000 m2 d’exposition dédiés aux plasticiens contemporains (émergents et confirmés), Richmond ajoute une corde à son arc et s’inscrit sur le circuit des villes arty à ne pas manquer en 2019.

Voyageurs du Monde (01.42.86.16.00 ; Voyageursdumonde.fr) n’affiche pas de forfait clés en main en Virginie mais conçoit des itinéraires personnalisés pour aller découvrir le nouvel Institute for Contemporary Art. L’agence suggère un package comprenant le vol Paris-Washington DC sur Air France, puis un billet de train Amtrak ou la location d’une voiture pour rejoindre Richmond (moins de 2 h de route), et 4 nuits au Quirk Hotel, à partir de 1 900 € par personne.

Le Musée National: à Doha, au Qatar

Le Musée national du Qatar.
Le Musée national du Qatar. Iwan Baan

Save the date! Le Musée national du Qatar ouvrira le 28 mars. Réalisé par Jean Nouvel, le bâtiment de 40 000 m2 revêt la forme d’une rose des sables, en référence aux origines des Qataris, ce peuple du désert devenu l’un des plus riches du monde (en PIB par habitant).

Posé sur la lagune, l’édifice est érigé autour du palais historique fraîchement restauré de feu cheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, fils du fondateur du Qatar moderne. Le parcours se déroule sur 2,7 km. Expériences immersives, pièces de collection datant d’il y a 700 000 ans à nos jours, technologies les plus innovantes, commandes d’œuvres d’art et de vidéos… Et dans les jardins, Jean-Michel Othoniel a conçu 114 fontaines dont l’eau dessine d’éphémères arabesques dans l’espace. Un voyage en soi.

Directours (01.45.62.61.41 ; Directours.com) propose une escapade de 6 jours à partir de 1 095 € par personne incluant les vols, 4 nuits au Grand Hyatt Doha avec petits déjeuners, et 1 entrée au Musée national du Qatar.

Weiwuying: à Kaohsiung, au sud de Taïwan

Le National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying).
Le National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying). National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying)

Troisième ville de l’île après Taipei et Taichung, Kaohsiung – jusqu’alors peu connue du voyageur occidental – se trouve depuis octobre dernier sous les feux de la rampe. La mégalopole peut se targuer du plus grand complexe culturel du monde (sous le même toit).

Le National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying) prend place dans une ancienne base militaire de 10 hectares métamorphosée par le bureau d’architectes néerlandais Mecanoo. La structure évoquerait un banian sous lequel les Taïwanais aiment s’abriter du soleil. A l’intérieur, le centre comprend un opéra, une salle de concerts (en forme de vignoble), un théâtre, une pièce de récital intimiste…

Asia (01.56.88.66.75 ; Asia.fr) propose un circuit «Taiwan en liberté», avec une demi-journée à Kaohsiung, à partir de 2 371 € comprenant les vols internationaux, 9 nuits d’hôtel et 7 jours d’autotour. Forfait pour Kaohsiung exclusivement sur demande.

» Vous pouvez également suivre Le Figaro Voyages sur Facebook et Instagram.

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Finance Minister says corporate tax breaks needed to stop Canada losing business dollars to U.S.

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OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau is defending his government’s big tax breaks to corporate Canada, saying that Ottawa had to act or risk losing business investment to the U.S.

Confronting criticism that Wednesday’s economic update was too focussed on business priorities, Morneau said that ensuring Canada remains competitive in the face of big corporate tax cuts south of the border is critical to the country’s economy and job creation.

But he said that the Liberal government is mindful that it has more work to do to address the needs of low-income and middle-class Canadians.

“We know there is always more to do in that regard, but we can’t forget that, for a significant number of people, we’ve got to find the right jobs for the future,” Morneau told the Star.

The federal Liberals used this week’s economic update to deliver tax changes to allow companies that invest in manufacturing and clean energy to write off their spending on new equipment right away. Other businesses will be able to write off more quickly a greater portion, but not the full amount, of their capital spending.

Morneau says that Ottawa had to act in some way to ease the tax burden on Canadian corporations because of Washington’s sharp cuts to corporate taxes, which had eliminated Canada’s tax advantage.

The cost of not acting would be losing businesses that were already here and making Canada less attractive to foreign investors, he said, during an interview in his office in the Finance Department building.

“We recognized that as our reality, so we wanted to make sure that that next investment can be made in Canada,” Morneau said.

“Not only are we assuring that investment, but we are assuring the newest technology will be here in Canada, which means the more exciting jobs,” he said.

Morneau, who is scheduled to talk to a Toronto audience Friday about the update, said that based on “very positive feedback” from corporate leaders, he’s confident that businesses will take advantage of the measures to make job-creating investments.

“We’re making a decision for the long-term health of our economy and the exciting jobs of tomorrow. We need to do that at the same time as we think about how we assure that people who are really challenged are helped out along the way,” he said.

Morneau, who has served as Justin Trudeau’s only finance minister, has one budget left before the next election in October, 2019.

Looking ahead, Morneau said that income equality, skills training to meet the changing economy and helping the less fortunate will be priorities for the final months in office.

Morneau said the measures taken so far by the government — notably the child benefit, the Canada Workers Benefit and increases to the guaranteed income supplement — will lift 652,000 people out of poverty.

“That’s an enormous impact,” he said.

“We don’t think our job is done at all. We think we have to be continually focusing on how we ensure that middle class Canadians have optimism about the future and we need to continually be focusing on how people who are the most challenged in our society move into a better situation,” he said.

NDP MP Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby) said the priorities laid out in the economic update were “completely inappropriate” and would do little to help the pocketbooks of everyday Canadians, many of whom are struggling with record levels of household debt.

“The announcements … of massive corporate write-offs is unbelievable. It just shows how out of touch this government is, given the size and scope of what Canadians are struggling through,” said Julian, the party’s finance critic.

He said the government should have moved on other initiatives, such as accelerating investments in affordable housing. “They are not doing the things that they need to do to support Canadians,” Julian said in an interview.

On Parliament Hill Thursday, Conservative MPs Pierre Poilievre and Michelle Rempel criticized Liberal plans, laid out in the economic update, to help Canadian media outlets to the tune of $595 million over five years.

The measures, which include a tax break for subscribers of digital news and tax credits to news organizations for a portion of their labour costs, are meant to assist media outlets left struggling by the downturn in ad revenues. The government said it will let an independent panel drawn from the journalism industry define eligibility for some of the measures.

But Poilievre and Rempel condemned the move, saying the government shouldn’t be underwriting media organizations. “A lot of the mainstream media outlets are not profitable. They’re not thriving and is it the role of taxpayers to bail them out?” Rempel said.

Morneau said that some details of the aid have to be confirmed in the budget, but he wanted to get the ball rolling on establishing the independent panel.

“We see it as critically important that we have confidence in the independence,” he said.

In his update, Morneau laid out a rosy economic picture with unemployment at a 40-year low, rising wages and corporate profits and continued growth. That has helped boost government revenues, but the new spending means that a return to balanced books remains out of reach for the foreseeable future.

In fact, Ottawa is now projecting higher deficit spending — about $5 billion more over the next five years — than it did in its February budget.

But Morneau says that even with the measures in the update, the debt-to-GDP ratio continues to decline and that Canada’s debt position is more favourable than other G7 countries.

The one storm cloud is the sharp drop in oil prices which hurts not just Alberta, but Ottawa’s bottom line, too. Morneau concedes there is no easy fix to depressed oil prices in Alberta, as there are roadblocks to getting oil to markets other than the U.S.

The federal government took the unusual step earlier this year of buying the Trans-Mountain pipeline in hopes of speeding construction of a second pipeline along the route, a project held up as further consultations take place.

“This is an enormous challenge. It’s a long-term challenge,” Morneau said. “We don’t have any magic solutions.

“We think the biggest single thing we can do is stay focused on what we’re trying to achieve,” he said.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

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Tory MPP Amanda Simard breaks ranks over French-language cuts

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A newly elected Progressive Conservative MPP has broken ranks with her party over Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to French-language services.

Amanda Simard (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) has taken to Facebook to express her displeasure at Ford’s elimination of the independent watchdog for French and his cancellation of a francophone university.

Progressive Conservative MPP Amanda Simard took a photo of her desk on her first day in the Legislature last July.
Progressive Conservative MPP Amanda Simard took a photo of her desk on her first day in the Legislature last July.  (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

“The decisions made last week concerning the office of the commissioner and the Franco-Ontarian university disappoint me greatly, and I share this disappointment and frustration today, having initially worked as much internally as possible to reverse these decisions,” Simard wrote.

The rookie MPP, who was not at Queen’s Park on Thursday, said in French that she has asked Ford “to reconsider these measures.”

“My first reflex is always to use diplomatic channels to resolve situations, and that’s what I did, before reacting publicly, as soon as I became aware of these decisions,” she wrote.

“By the way, I read somewhere that MPP Simard ‘might be upset.’ False. I am ‘definitely upset.’ To my friends, to my community, to my riding, you know me — my francophonie is important to me.”

Simard, a lawyer and the parliamentary assistant to Francophone Affairs Minister Caroline Mulroney, said she “needs to assess where we are and what we can do and must do.”

“I am with you. I hope you will support me,” she told constituents in her Eastern Ontario riding on the Quebec border.

Mulroney has defended the cuts as necessary because the Conservatives have a $14.5 billion deficit.

Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser said the Tories are “pathological” in their bid to “silence their critics.”

Both the French-language watchdog and the independent child advocate’s office have been melded into that of the ombudsman, while the environmental commissioner’s duties will be handled by the auditor general.

On Friday, Mulroney will be conferring with federal Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly, who has criticized the changes.

Quebec Premier François Legault and federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have also appealed to the Ontario Tories to reconsider.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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Fight breaks out at Pusha T concert in Toronto, police say

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Three people have been sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after a fight broke out at the Danforth Music Hall on Tuesday night, Toronto police say.

Police responded to a call about an assault near Danforth Ave. and Broadview Ave. shortly after 10 p.m. A group of people in the 1,400-person audience attacked the performers onstage during a concert featuring rapper Pusha T, according to police.

Attendee Dhruv Bhatt said that the attackers started throwing beers at Pusha T while he was performing a song called “Infrared” in which he accuses Drake of using ghostwriters.

In response to the attack, Pusha T reportedly dissed Drake and the group subsequently rushed the stage, Bhatt said.

“A couple of guys got rowdy and threw a bunch of beers. Almost 30 beers,” Bhatt said. “Pusha T got a little wet, but he never actually got hit.” Security then escorted the rapper off the stage and some people in the audience, including Bhatt, left the concert hall to find that police had blocked off the street.

Drake and Pusha T were embroiled in an ongoing spat earlier this year. The rappers swapped insults through their music, with Pusha T launching the attack with “Infrared” and Drake retaliating by questioning the American’s credibility and history as a drug dealer.

Bhatt, who is a fan of both Drake and Pusha T, said most of the audience seemed disappointed that the group started a fight in the middle of the performance.

“They kind of ruined it for everybody, because everybody there is obviously a Pusha T fan and it took away from the whole experience,” he said. “Rap is a sport, but it’s not supposed to be violent. If it gets violent, then it takes away from what rap is all about and that’s not a good thing.”

The feud between the two rappers has been a heated, consistent faceoff. Last week, a screen with the words “F– Drake” flashed behind Pusha T during a performance on Nov. 10 in Los Angeles.

Stefanie Marotta is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @StefanieMarotta

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Ford breaks promise to keep pot stores away from schools

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Private cannabis stores can open within 150 metres of schools under new regulations posted by Premier Doug Ford’s government — something he had promised not to allow.

“I won’t put it besides schools like you did,” Ford said in a spring election debate to then-premier Kathleen Wynne. The Liberal government had planned to open its first state-run marijuana outlet 450 metres from Blantyre Public School in Scarborough.

Premier Doug Ford’s government has released long-awaited details on rules for pot shops that will be allowed to open April 1. The rules include letting stores open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week and restricting entry to patrons aged 19 and over.
Premier Doug Ford’s government has released long-awaited details on rules for pot shops that will be allowed to open April 1. The rules include letting stores open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week and restricting entry to patrons aged 19 and over.  (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The long-awaited details on rules for pot shops that will be allowed to open April 1 came Wednesday evening as the Progressive Conservatives tried to distract attention from a new tell-all book by former party leader Patrick Brown.

“It’s troubling that Doug Ford’s latest back-door decision — this time to allow pot shops to move within a stone’s throw of kids’ schools — was done without any consultation with parents or communities,” said Deputy NDP Leader Sara Singh.

Shops will be allowed to serve customers from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, restricting entry to patrons aged 19 and over, unlike liquor and beer stores where children can tag along with their parents.

Attorney General Caroline Mulroney insisted the guidelines, including the smaller distance buffer from schools, are in the best interest of the public.

“The purpose of these regulations is to keep kids safe and to ensure all people operating in this tightly-regulated retail system behave with integrity, honesty, and in the public interest,” she said in a statement released over the supper hour.

The hours of opening “are consistent with on-site retail stores for alcohol and will provide retailers with the flexibility to respond to local market conditions and consumer demands,” the statement added, referring to LCBO agency stores that are part of convenience, hardware and other stores in rural and remote areas where there are no liquor stores nearby.

Wynne’s plan to put a pot store so close to a school raised concerns among parents, but an analysis by the Star last April found more than half the city is within 450 metres of a school.

The Liberal government planned to allow only 150 state-run pot stores by 2020, which critics said would not be enough to stem the black market. Ford scrapped that policy in August, opening the opportunity to the private sector to avoid spending taxpayer money on stores and to create more opportunities for the business sector.

Budding entrepreneurs can submit applications for stores to the government starting Dec. 17, but will not be considered if they operated an illegal weed dispensary after the Canada-wide legalization date of Oct. 17, if they have an outstanding tax issues or ties to “organized crime.”

Stores must be stand-alone operations and not tucked into other retailers as a sideline and all employees will be required to complete an “approved” training program for which the government did not provide details.

To avoid any store operators from controlling too much of the market and promote small business, no one company will be allowed to have more than 75 stores across the province.

The government has not set a ceiling on the number of stores that will be allowed to open throughout Ontario.

Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1

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