"Breaking Quebec” –The Marois malaise

Par Beryl Wajsman le 6 octobre 2013

The hit cable series “Breaking Bad” ended its five year run this past weekend. But we have another up here. It’s called “Breaking Quebec” starring Pauline Marois.

Amidst the stark battles over Bill 14 and the Values Charter, sight has been lost of the broader malaise of the Marois administration. And frankly, some anger should be kept in reserve by demonstrators to make their voices heard on it.

This is a government that has contracted opportunity, sown division and trammeled hope. And to such an extent that reasonable people could be forgiven for thinking it was done in an almost premeditated manner meant to create a total command state devoid of growth with enough of its citizens dependant on a government cheque as to insure the PQ’s re-election.

Since taking office, Marois has placed a permanent moratorium on the development of natural gas. Quebec has  so much of it that we too could have dramatically lowered unemployment rates. Perhaps not as low as the American states that have revved-up natural gas operations in the past five years, but substantially better than where we are now. Why is natural gas development good enough for Pennsylvania, New York, Montana, the Dakotas, and Texas, but not for us? In the areas where natural gas development is ongoing, unemployment rates are as low as 3-5%.

The Marois government has also placed a permanent moratorium on drilling for oil in and around Anticosti Island. The area is virtually unpopulated. Yet the reserves there may be equal to 15% of Alberta’s.

The Marois government has refused to consider the monetization of Hydro-Quebec on the grounds that it is part of our “patrimony,” presumably on a par with the cross in the National Assembly that she exempted from her “values.” Yet monetization would mean selling shares in Hydro to the public which would lead to a drop in rates for consumers. Even France did the same with its state utility, Electricite de France, and was actually able to increase its revenues because it was not solely dependant on foreign contracts and raised tariffs on consumers.

It is hard for most to remember that in 1976, prior to the PQ election, Quebec was one of Canada`s richest areas. In the preceeding decade Montreal has built a World`s Fair, a Metro system, an urban highway system and an Olympics. Today it seems, we can hardly keep our streets and roads from collapsing. You can`t have any growth without an expanded tax base. It is not just language and sovereignty that keeps foreign investment and well-paying jobs away. It is government policy. All we hear from Quebec is “No, no and no!”

It is not good enough to have the odd announcement here and there of a company expanding. Because those expansions are based on our tax dollars incentivizing those companies through government handouts. The expansion of our resource base would mean fresh investment dollars coming in, not subventions from our taxes.

Where is the outrage against all thatE Where is the outrage against Marois’ failure to honour the health care tax cut? Where is the outrage against her allowance of the highest Hydro rate increases in a generation? Where is the outrage against her compromise of the social agenda by cutting welfare and daycare? She will say we need austerity. Of course, because she has closed the doors to any growth!

Marois has said she believes her “Values Charter” will unify Quebecers.  It obviously hasn’t and won’t. But there is something that will. Her record!


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