Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Maxime Bernier: Toward a proud, responsible Quebec

Maxime Bernier: Toward a proud, responsible Quebec

After seeing Mr. Bernier kicked out of cabinet for leaving sensitive information at his girlfriend's house, I assumed at the time that it would be the last we ever heard of him. Of course, his riding, on Election Night 2008, was to be a riding "in play" and assumed that his lead in votes would drop like a stone.

The opposite happened that night, and I have to say that everything I've heard from Mr. Bernier since shows me that he seems to get it. He seems to understand what the average Canadian wants and needs. He and I seem to be of the same opinion that receiving equalization payments from the federal government by our respective provinces is fundamentally bad, and those provinces should be encouraged to take steps to reduce their dependence on the federal government teat.

The only problem I have is that he is one teaspoon in an ocean of Quebecois. The "Tea Party" demonstrations in Quebec 2 weeks ago weren't about bringing smaller government sanity to the province, it was about keeping the same size of government with someone else paying for it. Clearly, Quebec won't reform unless they suffer the same problems as Saskatchewan encountered in the early 90s - awash in debt and with bond ratings on the government bonds dropping like a stone. Outmigration due to high taxes and high government intervention. Capital flying to other more friendly provinces. Clearly it will take a collapse in Quebec without the federal government backstopping them in order to prop them up.

I think that Mr. Bernier is right - Quebec won't separate, that would be disastrous for them if they did. Personally, I think their bluff should be called each and every time they start talking about it.

After all, "distinct" doesn't necessarily mean "special".

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