A wake-up call to Quebec: “ We’re Quebecers too and we’re here to stay – our way!”

Par Beryl Wajsman le 3 février 2014

It seems that every week the Marois government gives us new reasons to pause in astonishment at its craven opportunism and breathtaking hypocrisy. Not to mention its continued pursuit of monstrously wrong-headed policies and manipulation of the public purse. Last week was no exception.

Bombardier, one of the major beneficiaries of “Quebec Inc.,” announced significant layoffs of more than 1500 employees. Before successive PQ administrations began constructing Quebec Inc. – the incestuous partnership between the state funneling public dollars in subventions to Quebec companies – Bombardier had already become a world leader in everything from ski-doos to subway cars to aviation. Profitable, international and cosmopolitan, one would not think that the company was in need of our tax dollars. But the goal of Quebec Inc. is not to look at balance sheets. It is to assure not only the survival and sectorial dominance of leading francophone companies, but to insure their dependence on the state for public funds – ostensibly to create or secure jobs but just as often used to buy out competition – thereby creating a corporate constituency that would, at the least, remain as quiescent as possible in the face of obstructionist and retrograde social policies. 

Clearly the groaning question that needs to be asked is why should any government use our tax dollars to make up any losses suffered by private sector corporations? In Bombardier`s case let us give some credit where it is due. During the 1995 referendum Chairman Laurent Beaudoin was a leading federalist voice. But that may be just the point. To co-opt even political opponents. Within 48 hours of Bombardier’s announcement of layoffs. Minister Jean-François Lisée staged an elaborate ceremony presenting the company with an official Francisization certificate. Apparently the company wasn`t using enough French by the judgment of its unions that began the push for more French in 2009. The reason could be of course that the international language of aviation – not to mention commerce in general – is English. But nonetheless Bombardier complied. And the big press opportunity was held toward the end of last week. Lisée even congratulated CTV for covering it.

And there is the political profit. Nationalist governments will go to any lengths to spend public dollars pursuing the language and culture wars and eeking out whatever `victories` they can get. This administration has spent its almost 18 months in power proposing divisive and demonizing legislation that is a slap in the face to the 20% of Quebecers who are not Francophone. Constant and continuing marginalization. It`s time for a wake-up call.

That 20% make up a far greater percentage of individual tax revenues in this province than its numbers would dictate. They also make up a distinctly greater proportion of entrepreneurs and small businesspersons. And small business accounts for 80% of new job creation. But you won`t see ceremonies celebrating them. No. Instead we see law and legislation, rule and regulation that constantly diminishes and constrains many of these non-francophone communities. Proposals that insult their language rights as Canadians and their cultural, ethnic and religious freedoms as Quebecers. Yet they pay. And their tax dollars are used to prop up the leviathan of bureaucrats acting as state police to enforce programs and policies of nullification from the OQLF on down.

This government has just “discovered” a $2 billion deficit. Yet it will not allow natural gas development on the South Shore; oil exploration on Anticosti Island or the monetization of Hydro-Quebec. It has stifled any attempt at expanding our tax base, and all in the name of protecting their precious patrimony. Well, perhaps two can play at that game.

The government still wants to show it is open to all communities. Perhaps the non-francophone fifth of Quebecers should start considering their charitable donations. A good part of the budgets of hospitals, cultural centres and other quasi-public institutions comes from non-francophone communities. In some cases as high as 30%. Imagine if communal support for the Jewish General or Santa Cabrini hospitals was drastically downsized. Imagine if the non-francophones finally had enough and said to Quebec, ``Okay, you go it alone. “ You’re not going to insult us and then expect us to partner with you on institutional funding while you spend our tax dollars on multi-national corporations and brutal bureaucracies.

What if we all said “ We’re tired of your forms and formulas. We’re tired of your bullying. We withdraw our consent and our dollars.” Just this week the Canadian Federation of Independent Business concluded in a study that it costs the average Quebec household $730 a year just to comply with Quebec forms. And that doesn’t include the actual payment of taxes owed or car fees for example. Why not downsize donations. Put the Marois government on the spot. What a wake-up call that would be! They may want us out, but our message is, “We’re Quebecers too and we’re here to stay – our way!”


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Beryl P. Wajsman

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