Ha ha! Lucien Bouchard, a former big whig separatist from the Parti QuÃƒÂ©bÃƒÂ©cois, has stirred the “poutine”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poutine by telling his fellow French Canadians that they don’t work hard enough. “He said”:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061017.wbouchard1017/BNStory/National/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20061017.wbouchard1017 “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”:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061017.wbouchard1017/CommentStory/National/ “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”:http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5243133 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.