Canadian squeaky wheel politics

Ha ha! Lucien Bouchard, a former big whig separatist from the Parti Québécois, has stirred the “poutine”: by telling his fellow French Canadians that they don’t work hard enough. “He said”: “Quebec trails Ontario and the United States in economic terms, in part because its residents lack the same work ethic.”

Quebec labour leaders are — surprise! — enraged. Globe and Mail reports that “[t]hey said Quebeckers are willing workers but that they want fair wages and a balance between work and family life.” In other words they want what other French-speakers in the world get (ie. France’s 35h workweek etc). In the G&M “comments”: “equalization” is seen to be the source of this lack of productivity. Commenters blame Quebec’s “culture of entitlement” which rises from Federal Transfer payments, distributing “excess” wealth from rich provinces to poor. From a “2005 Economist report”: on Canada:

bq. The federal government spends more in Quebec (C$43.1 billion in 2003) than it collects from it in revenues (C$39.8 billion). Indeed, the feds collect more than they spend in only three provinces: Ontario (C$18.1 billion more), Alberta (C$7.7 billion) and British Columbia (C$1.4 billion).

Then of course there is Alberta’s energy boom. Windfall revenues from the oil sands also find their way to Montreal and Quebec City. And if the Prime Minister’s office depends on the support of Quebec, which translates into political attention in the form of federal contracts.

I applaud Bouchard for standing up to his own and calling for a change in Quebec working culture, but I don’t see this problem being solved without a bigger change in Canadian political culture.

About Younghusband

Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (1863-1942) was a British explorer, army officer, military-political officer, and foreign correspondent born in India who led expeditions into Manchuria, Kashgar, and Tibet. He three times tried and failed to scale Mt. Everest and journeyed from China to India, crossing the Gobi desert and the Mustagh Pass (alt. c.19,000 ft/5,791 m) of the Karakoram mountain range in modern day Pakistan. Convinced of Russian designs on British interests in India, Younghusband proactively engaged in the nineteenth century spying and conflict over Central Asia between the British and the Russians known as the Great Game. "Younghusband" is a Canadian who has spent a number of years bouncing back and forth between his home country and Japan. Fluent in Japanese and English with experience in numerous other languages from Spanish to Georgian, Younghusband has travelled throughout Asia. He graduated with an MA from the War Studies Department at the Royal Military College of Canada, where he focussed on the Japanese oil industry and energy security issues. He has recently returned to Canada from Japan, and is working in the technology sector.
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6 Responses to Canadian squeaky wheel politics

  1. Kurt says:

    When I lived in Japan, I had a very good friend who was from Quebec. He told me that the work ethic was bad and that Canadian taxes were high in general, which is why he was in Japan. He took several years to cultivate the relationships with various Japanese banks so that he could get all of their translation work – as an independent contractor (he is not technical at all but is very good with languages) where he translates from Japanese into English and French.

    After establishing his business, he moved and established tax residency in Monaco, because there is no income tax there. He is now more half way to financial independence (defined as when your investment income exceeds your living and personal expenses) and does not regret doing this for a moment.

    I think as the world decentralizes and more and more micro-powers appear, places like Quebec are going to loose more and more of their entrepreneurial-type people. Something I am in favor of.

    I see nothing wrong with a decentralized “1000 sovereignty” state world where all of the entreprenuer types live in libertarian-like “Hong Kongs” and the green/left people live in places like Quebec. Or all of the social conservatives in one area and the the social libertines in another.

    I think such a “1000 sovereignty” set up would be much better than the current situation where people with different dreams and goals are forced to live in and share power in a particular state, even when their differences are unreconcilable.

  2. Younghusband says:

    Kurt, interesting idea. As microstates increase, and globalization allows the flow of people to move/immigrate to the microstate of their choice, will there be “entrepreneur states” and “socialist states” (and points in between)? A sort of free-market of people. But will the market allow such an equilibrium? I would think, as Bouchard pointed out about Quebec, that the socialist states would not be able to compete, and without a benefactor (ie. Canada) would either dissolve or be run over by more competitive states.

    By the way, what is the origin of the term “1000 sovereignty”?

  3. Kurt says:

    I first heard the “1000 sovereignty” term used by a professor at Thunderbird ( when I was there in 1990. I was reading a lot of cyberpunk SF at the time, so I really took to the idea then.

  4. ElamBend says:

    I remember the last time the Qebecois had a referendum, a friend and I had a discusion on the consecuences of a break-up. Besides our greedy desire for all that wood, oil, and water if the western provinces became states (figuring that Ontario, atleast would remain a rump Canada); we finally came to agree that we both liked the idea of, at the very least an semi-independance for the remaining provinces.

    I’m not sure if the French Qebecois shouldn’t be allowed to separate, though I find the seperatists disagreeable. I don’t understand how [English] Canada is so different from America, yet English and French Canada are inseparable.

    Yet, I like the idea of a separate English polity close by. Just as the states in the U.S. give us leeway in the formation of laws (for instance western states giving women the right to vote way before the 19th amendment), a next door polity that shares the same political and legal genetics as this one is a benefit to both countries. Canadian legal and political decisions provide a test and a laboratory (socialised medicine, gun registration, etc) and help to shape the debate in America. It also provides an escape. Don’t like the gun-grabbers in Ontario? Michigan is nearby. Don’t like the draft, Canada is just to the north.

    I like the idea of 100 sovereities, but how great is it that there are so many here north of the Rio Bravo. I think that perhaps New Zealand – Austrailia and perhaps even Great Britain – Ireland derive the same benefit.

  5. von Kaufman-Turkestansky says:

    English Canada is a sort of “alternate” USA, and is probably good for the US to have as a safe neighbour that can also play the part that EB just suggested.

    Without Québec, however, I think that English Canada would become more indistinguishable from the US. This is becuase the challenge of keeping the country together shapes the policy debate in Canada. If Québec had been a separate country with its own army, I am convinced that the Rest of Canada would have done just as the UK and Australia did in joining the US coalition in Iraq.

    One might object that English Canadians were mainly opposed to going to war for what was percieved as not a just cause (as opposed to Canadian participation in Afghanistan, which is percieved as a just cause) even without French Canada, to which I would say so were most Australians and Brits. The difference is that the geopolitical imperative of keeping the country together would have prevented Canada’s leadership – even if it had not been the Liberals at the time – from going against the will of the majority. So my sense is that no matter who was running Canada at the time, the government would have found an excuse to listen to its people and not show the “leadership” in opposing the people’s will that Blair and Howard did.

  6. Younghusband says:

    “Another reaction”:

    bq. “It makes people think they are not worthy,”Â? Ms. Gauthier-Tremblay said Tuesday during an anti-poverty demonstration in front of the National Assembly. “It is a neo-conservative ideology and that is not what we want to promote here in this society.”Â?