Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Remind me again why we need Quebec?

I know, I know... that's not a very polite thing to say, but seriously, what really binds Quebec to the rest of Canada? They speak a different language, they have different ideas about the role of government in society.

Or so it would seem

The answer? Quebec is bound to the rest of Canada for money and power. You see, Quebec got used to a few things during the 20th Century, and the majority of that comes down to power being granted through an inordinate number of Prime Ministers being from Quebec, and through Quebec's large proportion of the population through most of that century. It also comes down to money being transferred from the rest of Canada to appease their appetite throughout the latter half of the century.

The problem is that Quebec's population proportion has been decreasing as Alberta and British Columbia have grown rapidly. With population growth, those two provinces have also grown their economies to the point where they rival Quebec's in real GDP, and beat Quebec's economy by all measures other than aggregate total. Considering each province is between 50 and 60% of the size of Quebec, I would think that Quebec's economy should be roughly twice the size of each provinces, rather than barely being the same size as Albertas and much less than twice the size of BCs.

Now what does it mean? As one of Canada's oldest and most populous provinces, it should be one of the provinces that is leading the way with per capita GDP, not languishing near the bottom of the list. It should be helping the lesser provinces around it to provide services comparable to the rest of Canada, not helping them to develop new social programs to waste their money on.

Of course, that's just my thought. I think that Quebec should have their bluff called if they even think of leaving Canada - they wouldn't be able to survive on their own.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC on the other hand...

Update: is it a surprise that all of the biggest "have not" provinces over the past several decades have the highest percentage of workers in the public sector?

On the first measure, which excludes federal employees and only counts publicsector employment at the provincial/state level (characteristic 1a), Nevada tops the list of Canadian provinces and US states with the lowest percentage of its employment in the public sector (8.6%). Rounding out the top 11 rankings are three Northeastern states (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island), four Midwestern states (Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri), two Southern states (Tennessee and Florida), and two Western states (Nevada and Colorado).

Alberta was the highest-ranked Canadian province; it ranked 41st with
14.4% of its total employment represented by the public sector. British Columbia followed Alberta, taking 44th place with 14.8% of its employment in the public sector. Saskatchewan occupied the last position, with public-sector employment representing 24.6% of its total employment, nearly triple the rate of topranked Nevada. Seven of the bottom 10 jurisdictions were Canadian provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Saskatchewan). Ontario ranked 48th. (Pg 37)

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