Two articles concerning the Bloc Quebecois piqued my interest this week and had me shaking my head in disgust.
We have all endured the Bloc Quebecois sanctimonious complaints over greenhouse emissions emanating from Alberta's Oil Tar Sands project, all the while, conveniently ignoring the dollars bills that also flow directly out of the Alberta oil industry and into Quebec's treasury via equalization payments. For the Bloc, that's too many dots to connect or an inconvenient truth and so the relationship between the two elements is pooh-poohed or ignored completely. For the Bloc, the fact that equalization payments from western provinces to Quebec total about 15 billion dollars a year, or about 15% of Quebec's budget is no reason to stop bitching and moaning about Alberta greenhouse gases as long as it plays to a willingly deaf, dumb and blind audience at home.
After being treated to one such anti-Tar Sands lecture from a sovereignist acquaintance of mine, I asked him if his position would be the same if the Tar Sands, happened to be located in Quebec.
He laughed and gave a little smile. "Of course not!" he said unabashedly. "Politics is always a case of perspective. Positions are always flexible, depending on where you come from" He then went on to say unashamedly that if the Tar Sands were located in Quebec, the province would have been independent many years ago!
And so institutionalized hypocrisy reigns in Quebec's Bloc Quebecois party and while lecturing other provinces and the Federal government on a wide variety of economic and social issues the Bloc spins along merrily ignoring the very advice it provides to others.
The first case in point is the Bloc's failure to support a motion put forward in Parliamentary committee by NDP MP, Pat Martin last week, who proposed that an
annual $250,000 subsidy to an asbestos lobby group be killed.
Now the Conservatives and Liberals voted against the motion, because technically it could have lead to a confidence vote on the House, something both parties don't want to happen just yet.
But the Bloc had no such qualms, if a confidence vote occurred it'd be to the others to prop up the government and to the BQ, it was case of no never mind.
Now I need not remind readers what a foul, dangerous and toxic substance asbestos is, suffice to say, it's use is banned in North America and all over the civilized world. However, that doesn't stop Quebec from shipping out millions of dollars worth of the stuff to third world countries each year, a reprehensible and cynical abrogation of social responsibility, if ever there was.
The Bloc voted against the motion because it is actually a big
supporter of asbestos, despite the product being responsible for more
deaths than crack cocaine. Asbestos provides thousands of Quebec jobs
and so for the Bloc, it means compromising their lofty environmental ideals in the name of expediency.
I wonder what their position
would be if the stuff came out of Alberta or Ontario?
In Quebec a new coalition was formed this week to promote the 'safe' use of asbestos and to lobby for continued exports. Of course, the Bloc supports this undertaking and goes along with the fiction that there are safe uses of the product as long as proper procedures are followed. That logic would have us believe that the third world possesses this technology and expertise while we in the Western world do not. Hmmmm.......
According to the BQ's, newly developed environmental green plan, the Alberta Tar Sands are 'out' while Quebec's asbestos is 'in'. It makes perfect perfect sense....in Quebec!
Nobody in the press seems to bother to call out the party on this ridiculously contradictory position, not even the English press. Perhaps they aren't even paying attention to what the Bloc is saying, which may very well be.
The second item in the news was Mr Duceppe's call on the Quebec government to shelve any idea of raising electrical rates that Quebeckers pay to the provincially owned monopoly, Hydro-Quebec, a rate that is the absolute lowest in North America. While Quebeckers pay just 6.9¢ per kilowatt hour for electricity, Ontarians pay 11.3¢ and New Yorkers 25.2¢. For every penny increase in the rate, Quebec could recoup up to 2
billion dollars a year, so you'd think there would be room to raise prices in order to pay down Quebec's massive debt, but not according to Mr. Duceppe.
Now any increase in Hydro rates would trigger a reduction in those famous equalization payments to the tune of almost 50% and so Mr. Duceppe has no shame in proposing that it is not in Quebec's interest to do anything that would reduce Ottawa's handout. And so he proposes that rates should be left alone and any tax increases should come somewhere else, where equalization is not affected.
Fishing For Stamps" program run by the Newfoundland government in the 1970's. Back then, fish factories were built with government subsidies so that workers could work the minimum 14 weeks to qualify for federal unemployment insurance. The factories were uneconomic and operated for a short period of time, just before winter in order to get workers "stamped up," a term derived from the fact that the government issued stamps as proof of employment. At one time it is estimated that up to one third of the Newfoundland work force was using the ruse to bilk Canadians out of billions of dollars of unemployment insurance annually, all with the Newfoundland government's blessing.
Mr. Duceppe's party's open and unashamed call to keep Hydro rates low in order to preserve it's equalization payments is a testament to it's cynical and long-standing policy of sucking out as much money from Canada, while biting the hand that feeds it , all the while complaining that Quebec is getting less than their fair share.
Oh the hypocrisy!