Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Forget English- Quebeckers Should Learn Greek

Watching the sad financial fiasco occurring in Greece, one has to ask if it is a portent of things to come, here in Quebec. While Greece is Greece and Quebec is Quebec, there are certain parallels to be drawn, especially when it comes to the attitude of the public in regard to fiscal responsibility.
The Greeks are living the cruel repercussions of decades of financial mismanagement and overspending. Lavish entitlements, early retirement and widespread tax evasion has finally caught up with them as the country finally ran out of money and credit.

The EEC which backstops the Euro, is demanding corrective action in order to authorize a bailout.
If implemented, these measures represent a debilitating and painful cut in expenditures and an unprecedented increase in taxes. For the average Greek, it means a 30% drop in relative income. 

Athens radio personality Georgios Trangasis is typical of Greek deniers, oblivious to the country's economic situation. For him, blame lies outside Greece, "What did European governments really know about Greece's indebtedness, and why did they allow it?"

And so the Greek financial crisis is the fault of the German and French banks as well as the IMF, controlled by the Americans. Hostility towards Germany for having the audacity to tell the Greeks that they have been living too high on the hog is particularly galling, with the deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos, telling Germany that it had no right to reproach Greece for anything, considering that it devastated the country under the Nazi occupation. (65 years ago.)

Quebec is not Greece, at least when it comes to  tax compliance. Greece is a country where cheating the government out of taxes is a national sport. The attitude can best be highlighted by the revelation that 75 of the country's tax inspectors have never filed a personal tax return. Wealthy Athenians cover their swimming pools with camouflage, lest it be a signal to the tax inspectors that they are rich.

While there is a robust under the table economy in Quebec, it pales by comparison to the dishonesty that is pervasive in Greece, but when it comes to lavish government spending, the Greeks can learn a thing or two from Quebec.

Parental leave, universal subsidized daycare, ridiculously low education fees and generous welfare payments are the envy of citizens of every other province, even those who are substantially richer than Quebec. Finance ministers across the country cannot fathom how Quebec can continue to pay for these types of programs in good conscious and some have injudiciously voiced concern. Recently Alberta's finance Minister Ted Morton told university students;
"You and your parents are spending a bunch of money to help Quebec, and they're paying half the tuition you are.

Not only do Quebecers pay less tuition, they also pay far less for electricity, drugs and daycare. Quebec offers a more generous parental leave program than elsewhere, and higher corporate subsidies. LINK

The truth is that Quebec has been financing it all with smoke and mirrors à la Greque, paying for it all with a rising provincial debt, coupled with welfare payments (equalization) passed on from Ottawa, but paid for by wealthier provinces.

With the provincial debt load approaching dangerous levels, it seems that Quebec may be facing a Greek tragedy of its very own.

And so, Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand's latest budget finally attempted to come to grips with reality (at least on the revenue side) and implemented increased taxes and user fees across the board.

Like the Greeks, these new measures went over like the proverbial lead balloon with the majority of Quebeckers protesting.

Most Quebeckers are fed up with being the most highly taxed citizens in all of North America, with the government now taxing and spending over 41% of the province's wealth. But over 40% of Quebeckers pay no provincial tax at all and strangely it is they who are complaining the loudest.

The new user fees, which are universal and hit all Quebeckers, has the freeloaders up in arms.

"Together for Free- Quality- Universal Services!! " 
"Let Big Companies Pay!"            

And so to the streets they take, to protest the outrageous proposition that they help pay for the services they consume, with child-like remedies as highlighted in the placards above.

The signs  above would be humorous enough would they not reflect the sentiments of a great deal of Quebeckers.
It is likely that these protesters are just about the last group in the entire world that believes public services can be provided for free. (even the Greeks have come to terms with that reality.)

According to  Jean-Jacques Samson taxing the rich can't resolve the problem because in Quebec, there aren't that many rich people. In fact just 3% of the population make over $100,000 and they already contribute 25% of the personal taxes collected by the government.

The richest 20% of  taxpayers contribute 70% of personal taxes, so there isn't much wiggle room.

Quebec is rapidly approaching the point where it cannot tax anymore. The only choice is to tax those who pay nothing already and user fees are the only means available.

At any rate, taxes will not solve the Quebec problem, the lavish social programs provided by the government are beyond the scope of taxpayers to handle.

The next battle in Quebec will come when governments realize that they cannot fund these programs anymore and that they are out of borrowing options.

At that point, programs will have to be re-jigged to be less generous and it is likely that Quebeckers will react as the Greeks.

Blame someone else......


  1. Based on this fiscal time bomb, I think it's high time an "English Canada" Bloc Party à la Bloc Québécois becomes a reality. Its goal is to reduce Quebec's share of federal revenues to more closely match its 22% proportion of the Canadian population, ensure it gets little more than it puts into federal coffers, and if this is not at all acceptable and Quebec once again puts a knife to the rest of Canada's collective throat, fight to vote Quebec out of confederation forever.

    Equalization payments are constitutionally protected, but what is to say the payments can't be reduced to, say, $1 per Quebecer, i.e. about $7 million?

    In the latest fiscal year, Ontario, with a population 40% higher than Quebec's, only received $300 million in equalization payments, or about $25 PER ONTARIAN! Quebec, on the other hand, if I'm correct, was awarded $8 billion, or over $1,100 PER QUEBECER!

    $1,100 per person to an ungrateful Quebec that endlessly and impudently bashes Ottawa and the rest of us at every turn, and only $25 per person to Ontario that hasn't collected one thin dime of Equalization payments in I don't know how long, if ever before!

    All Quebec does is squander the money. There is no incentive to watch their purse strings because the unthanked feds send the $$$ down the Ottawa River while Quebec endlessly squanders and rewards its people at other people's expense, and bites the hands of those who feed them yet!

    This born-and raised ex-Quebecer who is now living happily paying taxes in Ontario says enough is enough! Cut Quebec back to its fair share of the pie, and if it's not good enough, good-bye, good luck and good riddance Quebec. TAKE THAT, Tym_Machine! See what happens to all your precious social programs without the almighty Canadian dollar to support you! Read up on the latest economic news in Greece and Zimbabwe!

  2. " But over 40% of Quebeckers pay no provincial tax at all and strangely it is they who are complaining the loudest."

    Ya know I read this same thing in LaPresse about 3 years ago and could not believe it. Not long after I read that, I got into my weekly " Oui vs NON " discussion with my very good separatist friend. He brought up the point how most of his hard earned money was supporting all the unemployed ethnics in this province. At that point I pulled out the ace from under my sleeve, and pointed out that article to him. He looked at me in shock and said that is impossible. I then pointed out that it cannot only be Anglo's and Allos taking his money, since we only make up around 20 percent of the population. The people taking all his money were the very same people who speak the same language as him. I asked him to please explain to me how you can be so upset with Anglos when its not us screwing you over, and its not really Ottawa either since we get the most money in handouts than most other provinces. He just shook his head and said that cannot be true.

    Can you imagine what the economy in Quebec would be like if the separatists ever got their way and managed to leave Canada ?. Basically after the dust settles and the Quebec population has completely cannibalized the economy, I think most people would be saying " wow was it really us that were screwing us over and not English Canada ?".

  3. "You and your parents are spending a bunch of money to help Quebec, and they're paying half the tuition you are."

    Jesus, I should have not read that article.The two parties that flip flop in and out of power in this province should be sent to bed without a guaranteed pension. If they and even We spent less time on this godforsaken language issue, and used that energy on forcing the government to get a grip on this we could turn things around. I could care less who gets elected next, just do what is right and get this province going again.

    I can never figure out why I still live here,maybe its because of family or maybe I just like what this province has and what it could be. But each day I hear or read another reason why I should just leave.

  4. I think before the government touch the welfare spending they should look inside. There are too many redundancies in the Quebec government. A lot of Quebec government's functions are duplication of what the federal government does. Other provinces just happily let the federales run those functions. Tax collection, pension plan, immigration, foreign missions for example.

    And of course, how much money is wasted on OQLF?

  5. The government should sell off just a few things to start and make a few changes.

    -Sell the SAQ
    -Sell the SAAQ
    -Setup tolls booths ,and make highway maintenance private. Don't start bitching about tolls please, it works.
    -increase tuition so maybe these lifetime students can actually find some jobs and start paying, god forbid, TAXES !
    -Stop funding private schools
    -Increase daycare fees to what they should be , or base it on the total income of the household. This way people who really need this service can actually get kids into it.
    -Lower property tax rates for companies that way they would probably keep their company in Quebec and hire more people.
    -Oh and lets try and get rid of the OQLF, or ya know what make it private.

    Yes I know I sound crazy.

  6. "Let Big Companies Pay!"

    Big companies are in there to make a profit not to do charity for people who above all hate and despite them anyways because they work too hard and that pisses a lot of people off.

    When leftists will get that part, it will be a real first step for dialogue.

    In the meantime, they can try to start their own businesses and see how they do in the private sector because what is public should be privatized anyways according to my set of core values.



  7. @steve,

    "Stop funding private schools"

    That's a good idea but I got a better one: abolish French and English schoolboards in Quebec (commissions scolaires) and then finance ALL schools equally (let's say 40%).

    We would save a hell of a lot more money this way.



  8. @anonymous,

    "ut Quebec back to its fair share of the pie, and if it's not good enough, good-bye, good luck and good riddance Quebec. TAKE THAT, Tym_Machine! See what happens to all your precious social programs without the almighty Canadian dollar to support you! Read up on the latest economic news in Greece and Zimbabwe!"

    Will it ever happen that there is going to be a party in the ROC that will want to kick Quebec out of Canada?

    Or maybe a Bloc Ontario to take out Ontario out of Canada?

    Oh I forgot, Ontario IS Canada. Talk about this with western canadians and you will definitely realize that the break up of this country is even more profound and deeper than simply taking Quebec off the equation.



  9. The main difference between Quebec and Greece is that Quebec is a province where papa Canada can always take over and put it under "tutelle" (sorry haven't found the propoer English expression for that one) whereas Greece gets disciplined by let's say Germany (actully happened) on an equal basis.

    In 1995, despite our friend former Quebecker now living in Ontario, Quebeckers chose to stay in Canada and Canada by the same measure, chose to keep Quebec in the mix (or did they, based on their love-in couple days before the referendum in 1995, I'd say yes).

    The only thing Canada can say is: Hey Quebec, keep your expenses lower. On the other hand, when Canada pays 2 millions dollars for a fake lake in Toronto and 1,1 BILLIONS on a G-20 summit which is supposed to talk about savings and austerity in a time of economic turmoil, we can put their sense of economy with a big question mark at the end.



  10. TM,

    I fully agree with you with respect to the costs of these upcoming G8 and G20 Summits.

    As for Quebec, WHY? WHY should the rest of us take Quebec under its tutelage (there is your translated word)? I chose to leave Quebec because of the persecution by the majority on its minorites by those country bumpkins and other assorted moronic hicks from Hérouxville, the Saguenay and other backward outlying areas.

    The anals of ignorance and the creation of minorities as the scapegoats for the majority's shortcomings were fuelled by Quebec Government rhetoric, and now the vitriol has spread from those backward rural hicktowns into urbania, and nothing is being done to stop or even tone it down.

    In addition to the socio-political engineering, why should the rest of us bail you out? Successive Quebec governments CHOSE to spend fortunes on language, excessive social programs, shoddy infrastructure and an overpaid civil service.

    Around the time of the two referendums in 1980 and 1995, the Quebec government of the day CHOSE to loosen the purse strings and give enormous handouts to various interests and taxpayers, bribes to buy 'yes' votes. Why in the name of Neptune should the rest of us pay for those handouts?

    Quebec is a cauldron of corruption, from the construction industry through Chrétien's sponsorship scandal and a host of other scandals. Organized crime runs rampant in Quebec as opposed to elsewhere. TM, your government treats its minorities like dirt, your government has sloppy fiscal policy, your government has the lion's share of the corruption in Canada. Your government made its bed, you vote for this nincompoops, lay in it!

  11. @Anonymous June 9,11:04 am
    "Your government made its bed, you vote for this nincompoops, lay in it! "

    Yes we do vote for them, but what choice do I ,an Anglo, have or what choice does a Francophone have. I am never going to vote PQ because their main party platform is separation, so I have to vote for Goldilocks which I am not fond of doing. Francophones have the same problem where if they vote Liberal and their buddies find out well there goes their Pure Laine status. Its not necessarily I or TM's fault here. Its simply a no win situation.

  12. Reply to steve:

    Why do you have to vote for Goldilocks? Why can't Anglos in Quebec form their own parties like other minority groups around the world have done? If you guys don't care enough to form your own parties that will represent you why shouldn't people like me be happy to throw you guys under a bus and gain language peace by supporting Swiss-style laws and scrapping P.E.T.'s stupid bilingualism crap?

    The Toronto guy.

  13. @ Toronto Guy

    Basically with less than a 20 percent of the Quebec population that I would possibly get votes from it would not even be enough to accomplish anything. Even if I used all those fancy tax tricks the paranoid separatists would say " that party is going to shut down all the french instuations in Quebec and force us to think for on our own ". That would basically be game over and all the lemmings would freakout. Plus I would not like to be a party like the Bloc where they are only there to collect a free pension and never have to answer to anyone.

    I do like that Swiss-style law thing though, cause I like Swiss Steak and Swedish Meatballs so I would not mind more laws that force eating food on you . I know that makes no sense , but neither do you.

  14. @Steve,

    'Even if I used all those fancy tax tricks the paranoid separatists would say " that party is going to shut down all the french instuations in Quebec and force us to think for on our own ". That would basically be game over and all the lemmings would freakout.'

    If your starting something with such a loser attitude, you are never going to get anything accomplished.

    Of course, one has to be realistic in terms of goals he or she wants to accomplish.

    Someone pointed out in past comments the past successes of Alliance Quebec and how well they represented the anglo community in Québec.

    Let the opposition destroy your castle Steve, don't destroy it yourself. It has been done before and it can still be done in 2013.

    In the meantime, your stuck with the PLQ who takes you for granted.



  15. @anonymous,

    'Quebec is a cauldron of corruption, from the construction industry through Chrétien's sponsorship scandal and a host of other scandals. Organized crime runs rampant in Quebec as opposed to elsewhere.'

    I could not agree more with you on that one, thanks to the liberal party of Québec. (PQ is not that better by the way).

  16. @TM
    "In the meantime, your stuck with the PLQ who takes you for granted. "

    Your are right there.

    As the PQ takes the francophones for granted. See the BLOC and PQ only have to play the language card and bash Ottawa to strum up some votes. Other parties in Quebec actually have to use their heads to swing the francophone votes, where the BLOC and PQ do not. Do you honestly think that most people that vote for the PQ are doing so based on their economics? I don't. We can all agree that the island of Montreal is where most of the money is earned for this province, and looking at the results from the 2008 election the PLQ won most of its votes where ridings were either in Montreal or bordering other provinces or States, which is, were the money is. Look what the PQ won nothing of value. So how much effort did the PQ actually have to do? , Nothing!

    The BLOC ad PQ show people that vote for them, that doing nothing means you can still get paid for never accomplishing what you promised the people who voted for you. I know that applies to most all political parties, but please after 33 years you are still in Canada, and you still have people voting for you, why? , because they take the francophone vote for granted.

    As for my Castle it will never crumble. As much as the separatist try, I know in my mind that they are weak people because Quebec is still in Canada and Quebec still needs money from Ottawa. They will never have the balls to leave.


    2008 election

  17. TO ALL OF YOU READERS: Beautiful Quebec is separated anyway, whether you like it or not. Yes, Quebec has the control of their School & University system, their own industries,their communications,their churches etc. Moreover they are good entrepreneurs, artisans and they are in charge of their economy. Without their culture Canada is dull and drab. The International French community enjoy them. Perhaps one day they could be part of the European Community. Their language is moving and reshaped constantly, and they are as interesting as in a lot of different parts of France(Normandie or Alsace. So what do you want? The French of America is now prosper, an excellent worker and he creates jalousy. That I see. If you cannot share their Baccanales, let them be! They could reach out other Québécois living outside the province and create a permanent link in order to become stronger.
    Vive le Québec Libre !

  18. ONTARIO IS A hard BLOC. THEY REFUSE TO DEAL with QUEBEC as another culture. THEY hide under THE TRILLIUM Grants. Quebec is FORCED TO LIVE the BOUNDARY LINES WITH THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, and Quebec WILL REFUSE TO ABANDON their CULTURE, their LANGUAGE and their land.

  19. GREECE is not to be compared with Quebec economy. We are not discussing the same economy at all. A lot of Greeks are making a good living in Quebec, better than in Ontario. They live well and cheeply, have businesses and bring the rest of their family in Quebec.They have their own "arrondissement"and they live in peace. The French like to do business with them and to celebrate their bacchanales.Our Federal programs are the only link, and if this link is a source of hathered, well this country is not a country, this is why Quebec has a national day ! It's too look at your happy face...