Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quebec Unions - Let Ottawa and Our Children Pay for Deficits

A group of Quebec's largest unions got together and published a letter, "Déclaration commune de l'Alliance sociale - Un autre Québec est possible" arguing against the disengagement of the state from the economy and against any proposed spending cuts.

It's always interesting to hear arguments that fly in the face of common sense and this letter doesn't disappoint. That the nonsense below comes from a group of union leaders that represent over one million Quebec workers is all the more depressing.

To read the original letter in French go here.

Interestingly Le Devoir has referred to this coalition of unions as 'progressives,' although I can't imagine why.
"For many years we have seen in Quebec an expression of a dominating idea that tirelessly repeats the mantra advocating the disengagement of the state, privatization of public services, and laissez-faire market economics . This phenomenon has gained momentum, thanks to the worst financial crisis and economic downturn in the last sixty years.

The preparation of the last Quebec budget has also resulted in a well-orchestrated strategy of factual distortion, half-truths and fear mongering of the worst kind.

To summarize, we are poorer and more indebted than elsewhere, while benefiting from broader public services and social programs. In sum, according to this view, we are living beyond our means. And the situation will only worsen with the aging of the population. (This part is actually true...editor)
We are served up the same depressing diagnosis in relation to the state of the economy: lagging productivity, anemic investment, stagnant population, etc.. And we could go on and on with a long litany of alleged failures.

All this serves as a backdrop to justify a shift toward privatization and the pricing of public services on the principle of 'user pay' and this, in order to  directly
place on the shoulders of  users the increased cost of funding these services.

However, these guidelines can only create more inequality and hardship for the less fortunate, as far as social rights and economic rights are concerned.

Progressive Solutions

To balance these public demonstrations of self-flagellation,  the 'Social Alliance' was formed. To do this, we intend to publicize alternatives that will demonstrate that it is necessary to have a strong state if we want to have a vibrant economy and a better redistribution of wealth.
(Oh, oh, more government intervention. Redistribute more of the wealth? ...editor)

Based on the concerns of the groups forming the Alliance, we have identified targets to influence the trajectory of the provincial budget next spring.

Budget cuts and balance

The government must end its program of fiscal restraint in all directions, because, under the pretext of an early return to balanced budgets, it is cutting services to the population already weakened by years of cuts and reforms in a most inappropriate manner that will  deprive it of those instruments needed to meet new needs.
(A call for increased government spending...editor)

Rising tuition is a false solution to the problems of financing higher education which would hit the brunt of the poorest students and their families. This merely diverts attention from the need and urgency to make major public investments in education. The same pressing needs are felt in regard to services for young children, the elderly, and that underspending in health and social programs and for an efficient civil service.
(a blanket call for increased government spending...editor)

To restore a balanced budget, we must consider a longer time frame,
(a proposal to run deficits for longer periods of time...editor) especially since the weight of the deficit compared to Quebec's economy is one of the lowest among industrialized countries. (I'm speechless!... Can anyone explain this? Quebec's deficit is among the lowest?...editor)

If the magnitude of the debt that we bequeath to future generations must be taken into account, we must also worry about the state we leave them public services and social programs. This too is part of equity between generations.

(Justifying dumping the debt on our children ...editor)
The fairness of the tax measures

While studies show that we are paying too much for our drugs, we believe that the health contribution amounting to $200 per adult, regardless of income, is a regressive, unwarranted and pernicious.
(Against user fees ...editor)

We also believe that the tax system for those with very high incomes should be overhauled. For example, a 4th level of 28% should be added to the tax table for income above $ 127 000, as is in the  federal system. The corporate tax should also be tightened in order to limit tax avoidance and loopholes of all kinds.
(Less than 2% of Quebeckers make over $100K, even doubling their tax rate wouldn't put a dent in the deficit...editor)

Other measures

Similarly, we will want to ensure that the exploitation of our natural resources is in a sustainable development perspective that entails economic benefits for the people and the Quebec government.
(Plain spin ...editor)

We must also ensure that the federal government substantially enhances its contribution to support the provinces while respecting their jurisdiction.
(Yikes! Canda should substanially increase aid to Quebec!  Apparantly 8 billion in equalization is not enough! ...editor)

Economic development

We expect to enact strong measures to ensure the vitality of the manufacturing sector and to help create jobs in a sustainable development perspective. We expect to enact measures that enhance the Quebecois
know-how and encourage the modernization of equipment and access to technology. Measures that recognize the vitality of our service businesses, measures that stimulate the social economy. (Whaaat? ...editor)
For this, we rely on the establishment of a social dialogue that would focus the true contribution of workers to the development of work organization and innovation in enterprises. (Pay workers more ...editor)

Companies and public institutions should promote the retention of jobs and make strong commitments to invest in training. Thereby promoting the development of skilled workers and thus creating workers better able to cope with changes in the labour market and
the increasing environmental issues,  these are quality jobs that we provide. (Pay workers more ...editor)

This is not only a concrete way to create wealth, but also a better way to distribute this wealth .
(Workers deserve a bigger slice of the pie ...editor)
We understand the difficulties that Quebec society is facing. We also recognize the challenges that arise, especially regarding the reconciliation between economy and environment. We want to meet these challenges, as we have done collectively in the past with some success. But we will not ransack our public services and our social programs to do this. We will do so by strengthening the levers of state economic intervention.
(More government intervention is better ...editor)
We strongly believe that these progressive solutions will enable society to continue moving forward.

Each member of the Social Alliance will, in the coming months,  educate the people of Quebec about the alternatives to the dominant discourse on public finances and by Spring, will undertake coordinated  action on a regional or national basis.
Signed ,

So let's summarize;
  • Ottawa should give more money to Quebec.
  • The Quebec government should increase spending.
  • The Quebec government should run bigger deficits for even longer periods of time.
  • The Quebec government should spend more money on the civil service.
  • Quebec workers should be paid more and get a bigger slice of the economic pie.
  • The Quebec government should control more of the economy.
  • Rich people should pay more taxes.
  • Companies should pay more taxes.


  1. Mr. Editor,

    If memory serves me right, a good number of these unions supported the sovereigntist cause. If this is correct, I laugh at the idea that they want more money from Ottawa so that they can continue their failed socialist policies. Don't they realize that their "progressive" plans will only further increase the provincial debt(Oh I forgot, they think Quebec is one the LEAST indebted jurisdictions in North America *facepalm*)

    Sovereignist or not, they have to get over their socialist mentality because not only is it draining Quebec's economy, but the ROC's as well and I don't think Canadians outside Quebec are willing to pick up its mess.

    Anglo Montrealer

  2. I wonder what our dear reader Jacques will say in the face of the following statement stated as a fact.

    "...d’autant plus que le poids du déficit québécois par rapport à son économie est l’un des moins élevés des pays industrialisés."

  3. It's always inspiring when unions are willing to selflessly promote policies that benefit themselves at the expense of others.
    Unions: defenders of the lazy and incompetent.

  4. So you guys want a Cameron type solution?

  5. Same old, same old, more spin, more bs coming from these tax and spend union clowns.

    Its all about greed, greed and more greed, just follow the money. Seriously, think about it for a minute. We now have over 3.5 million people working for government across the country. Just sickening! Average salary in government is about 70 thousand yearly and rising. Average salary in the private sector is around 45 thousand yearly and dropping. Over 10% of government employees now make over 100 thousand yearly. In the private sector the number is under 2%. Look to Greece and Quebec, this is where Canada is headed if we don’t stop equalization and get spending and government growth under control. This tax and spend, union, socialist, big government, social engineering that has been destroying this country has got to stop. Yes, it has left Quebec and has been spreading throughout the rest of the country since the 1960”s, that’s right over 4 decades of massive government growth, massive government hiring, skyrocketing government salaries and more and more debt. Go check the stats for yourself. Thanks Trudeau, Tanks kebec.

    The Liberals and Conservatives have spent the last few decades destroying Ontario and Canada’s economy, its English speaking history and culture, not to mention the racism, bigotry, ethnic language cleansing and human rights violations going on in Quebec, a la bills 22, 178, 101…What are they really up to? “First Quebec, then we take over the rest of the country, one step at a time…through bilingualism…” PT, “How to take over a country through bilingualism…” SD. That’s what’s really going on. Wake up, people! High taxes, green fees, user fees, HST, high government salaries, social engineering – the expensive discriminatory forced bilingual and multicultural policies (only outside Quebec of course), greedy unions controlling just about everything, new programs and more government departments yearly, more government empire building, the size and growth of government is out of control!!!

    Quebec’s debt and spending is out of control with no end in sight. Ontario is now following Quebec’s lead in government growth, skyrocketing public service salaries and excessive spending. I won’t even mention how out of control spending has been in Ottawa at the Federal and municipal levels.

    Taxes are going up everywhere. People are deeply concerned about personal debt. 3.5 million people now work for government in Canada. The only people who have lost jobs during this so-called recession are from the private sector.
    When will all levels of government start downsizing, reducing debt, lowering our taxes? Don’t you get it, you can’t continue to raise taxes, hire more people to work in government, increase debt loads…etc. Just look at Greece as an example of what we are creating here in Canada. This is a disaster in the making.
    Wake up, you brain dead politicians. You are creating this mess. Think of the future for a change.Don't be so selfish and greedy.

  6. Quebec has 10 times more employees than the state of california, california has close to times quebec population, and california is on the verge of bankrupcy. Quebec has a debt reconning that is around the corner. And the quebec government represent 60% of quebec's economy, and they still want more?
    Man the wake up call will be brutal, and want to bet it will be the middle class that will get hit with this, and not the unions.
    When you have a bus driver making close to 100k and they find new ways to tax to get more money into public transit, you can bet most of it will wind up in the pockets of the public employees, not of service improvements.

  7. Troy said... I wonder what our dear reader Jacques will say in the face of the following statement stated as a fact.

    I'd say it's a pretty defensible and factual statement Troy given that Québec's net debt as a % of GDP was 41% in 2009 and the OCDE average was for that year was 50,2%. Québec had about the same wealth generation per capita that year as Germany and France, whose net debt to GDP ratios were respectively 50,2 and 53,1.

    source :


    (p 6)

    So it's much more honest than some of the risibly fraudulent exercises paraded here by the blog dogs, such as taking QC's gross debt to GDP including the share of Canada's gross debt "transfered" to QC and then comparing it to the net debt of Japan (or Greece, or the U.S.). Or pretending that NS is somehow « moins mendiant » toward the feds than QC because it receives net less from the feds when it has only a fraction of QC's population, and various other inepties uselessly consuming bandwidth around these parts.

    I guess it helps that these folks are willing to put their names and organizations behind their affirmation, rather than bloviating anonymously and cluelessly in backwaters of the internet.

    Of course if we were to calculate Ontario's gross debt to GDP including "its share" of the federal gross debt, the way the journalistic shock-troops of neoliberalism do here in QC (so that the people they work for can lay their hands on our public assets) we'd arrive at an "alarming" figure for Ontario too : a debt to GDP ratio for 2008 of 80% (which has grown since).

    This would make Ontario also more indebted than the OCDE average and almost as indebted as QC. (source : ibid.) Which is weird considering the genetically superior work ethic and fiscal acumen which inheres in its population.

  8. Jacques,

    A distinguished philosopher that you undoubtedly are, you are most certainly familiar with the concept of Okham’s razor. The concept boils down to: “the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one”.

    So if Quebec is indeed so strong, or at least comparable to top world economies, then:

    1. Why hasn’t Quebec become independent even though the independiste movement has been around for over 50 years now? In the meantime, several other countries appeared on the map…
    2. Why hasn’t Quebec become independent given that Francophones make up 80% of this jurisdiction, and (allegedly) they “want” and “deserve” a country?
    3. Why were there only 2 referenda in 50 years time?
    4. Why aren’t sovereignist governments successively elected?
    5. Why does the leader of a party that has Quebec independence written in its mission statement refuse to commit to a referendum?
    6. Why is it that the most pro-independence of all active Quebecois politicians (Duceppe) mentions an association with Canada/ trade with the US/ NAFTA, anytime he ventures into independence-related topics? (the only exception is when he addresses a crowd of MMF/SSJB fanatics who don’t care for irrelevant details like the state of the economy)
    7. Why is it that in the 1995 referendum question, the word “independence” has been replaced with the much softer “sovereignty”?
    8. Why was the 1995 question a run-on sentence that mentioned some sort of association (“offer”, “partnership”, “agreement)” with the very country Quebec wanted to leave? Did Croatia/Slovenia/Kosovo stress an association with Serbia? Did Latvia/Lithuania/Estonia/Ukraine stress an association with Russia? Do the Palestinians insist on an association with Israel? Is Tibet insisting on an association with China?
    9. Why is there so much resistance amongst Quebec nationalists to a federal act that asks for a referendum question to be clear, concise, and to the point?

    Start with these questions, and enlighten me as to why these questions are even on the table. And given that they are on the table, what can we say about the state of Quebec’s economy if we apply the Okham’s razor principle?

  9. After reading the text again, I can not help laughing at this sentence:

    "Il faut aussi faire en sorte que le gouvernement fédéral rehausse substantiellement sa contribution pour soutenir les provinces tout en respectant leur juridiction."

    In other words, "Give us more money, whatever we do with the money is none of your business."

  10. So if Quebec is indeed so strong, or at least comparable to top world economies, then:

    1. Why hasn’t Quebec become independent even though the independiste movement has been around for over 50 years now? In the meantime, several other countries appeared on the map…

    Gee, I guess because it isn't as "strong" as all those "powerhouses" who got independence in the meantime. Like Chechnya. And Bosnia. And Kosovo. And East Timor. And Eritrea. And South Ossetia. Hopefully we can close the productivity gap with them.

  11. Adski,

    A little bit of food for thought:

    Quebec referendum 1995, the second attempt in sovereignty:

    Do you agree that Québec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Québec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?.

    Choices of yes (49.42%) or no (50.58%).


    East Timor referendum 1999, the one and only attempt for independence:

    "Do you accept the proposed special autonomy for East Timor within the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia?" (21%)


    "Do you reject the proposed special autonomy for East Timor, leading to East Timor's separation from Indonesia?" (78.5%)


  12. Jacques, regarding your 3:29PM answer – yes, Quebec is stronger than many new states that popped up on the map, but it is not as strong as you claim, and it could easily be weakened. Quebec separation would certainly affect Quebec economically (for sure in the short term – Marois’s own admission) AND Quebeckers, at this point, are as spoilt and shallow as Americans, and are used to it, and are not willing to trade this comfort for the ideals. They remain attached to these ideals to the point that pushes them to make lives difficult for non-Francophones who live in Quebec, but not enough to follow the separatist madmen into the project of independence.

    The economic troubles in the new countries that you mention show that these particular countries WERE willing to be independent even at an economic cost, OR that the entity from which they separated from did not guarantee them any elevation in the standard of living. And it is completely the opposite in the case of Quebec – Canada makes Quebeckers economically secure, AND Quebeckers are not willing to sacrifice that standard of living. And therein lies the answer to all the questions I posed above.

    And because Quebeckers are confused and conflicted like little children, they will continue to elect PQ/BQ douchbags, and to vote Non in successive referenda. Which means that this circus will continue forever.

    As for you, Jacques, it is imperative that you try to spread the gospel of Quebec’s economic prowess amongst soft nationalists or federalists-nationalists who refuse to vote Oui, and not on an Anglo blog on which everyone can see through your bullshit.

    But I suspect the soft nationalists see through your bullshit too.

  13. East Timor referendum 1999, the one and only attempt for independence...

    Really? I thought the Fretilin movement declared East Timor's independence unilaterally in the fall of 1975, and without a referendum? At least that's what your encyclopédie de préférence says:


    adski, how come it took Irish Republicans almost a century and a half to achieve independence? Transfer payments? Lagging productivity?

    I must say the 1995 referendum question doesn't strike me as too convoluted in its structure. Jurist Michael Mandel didn't think so either. It doesn't read as a run-un sentence to me either: http://pages.videotron.com/histoire/referd95.html Your sentences do, but not the referendum one.

    Here's the one the feds came up with for the referendum on the Charlottetown Accord:

    Do you agree that the Constitution of Canada should be renewed on the basis of the agreement reached on August 28, 1992?

    So this is clearer is it? What were we voting on here, concisely speaking?

    Here's the one for 1980: http://pages.videotron.com/histoire/referd80.html

    50% of francophones voted yes in 1980. 62% voted yes in 1995.

    How come the parliamentarians who voted for the Clarity Act can't even agree among themselves on the interpretation of their motion claiming the Québécois form a nation in a united Canada? How come they can't even have clarity among themselves?

  14. Unions, public-sector unions in particular, care only about themselves. As to the issue of debt, (to say nothing of deficits) ALL debt must be considered. This includes unfunded future liabilities like pensions, etc. The Toronto guy.

  15. "50% of francophones voted yes in 1980. 62% voted yes in 1995."

    Thats why its a good thing that the anglo and allo population keeps increasing at the pace it is doing so in Quebec, to keep sepratists in check until demographically you can't get 51 percent with even 75% of the francophone vote.

  16. Oh Jacques, if you are not in politics already, you should be. Really like to around semantics, do you not? Okay, let me ask you a direct question.

    The one and only referendum on East Timor's independence was held in 1999. The questions are direct, either independence or not. The independence side won by 78.5%.

    The second referendum on Quebec's sovereignty (notice the absence of the term 'independence' on both referenda) was held in 1995. The yes side lost by 49.42%

    If Quebec is such a strong state, with independence as an aspire of the francophones, who held and still hold the majority, why both referenda failed? If you want to deflect the blame to the efforts of the NO side, with the aid of the federal government, remember that Indonesia did a massive campaign against independence.

  17. Thats why its a good thing that the anglo and allo population keeps increasing at the pace it is doing so in Quebec, to keep sepratists in check until demographically you can't get 51 percent with even 75% of the francophone vote.

    wow. So you openly admit the principle on which you want to see people mobilized - ethnic clientelism - and then pillory Parizeau for pointing out that that's what you're doing.

    Parlant de donner raison à son adversaire.

    Un gros merci.

  18. Mississauga Guy said before the end of the day...

    Quebec unions have always been hooked on opium...oops...I mean O P M! ...namely, the T P M (taxpayers' money).

    Say good night, Editor!

  19. Mississauga Guy's afterthought...

    Lest we forget a federal party putting the more sensible English speaking population first and Quebec in its place.......

  20. "Jacques said...
    wow. So you openly admit the principle on which you want to see people mobilized - ethnic clientelism - and then pillory Parizeau for pointing out that that's what you're doing.

    Parlant de donner raison à son adversaire"

    Absolutely! This is the only language your movement montreal francais types understand.

    When we use words like partition or even suggesting that through federal politics getting rid of bill 101 and reestablishing Quebec as the bilingual province it was and constitutionally obligated to be.

    Anglos and Allos became stronger despite bill 101 because the quebec government gave no option to otherwise. We had no choice but for the most part rely on our own businesses and the private sector because despite us paying a larger % of taxes despite our 20% of the population we have a much smaller share of Quebec Government jobs and resources. We had to learn how to indirectly access as much of our rightfully tax financed services as we could. 250 000 plus english speakers leaving Quebec, which helped Ontario eclipse by leaps and bounds Quebec economy. Taxes from those that left still go into the coffers of a Quebec government that does not really care about 20% of its population.

    Bob bourassa, the PQ and their supporters started this. WHY should I go out of my way to be politically correct to what can be described as an oppressor. Its not like bill 101 exempted parts of Quebec that have always had an English speaking majority.

    YES I absolutely want the demographics in quebec to change. With anglos and allos becoming 25 to 30% of the population in strategic areas we can blunt all Francophone chauvanist laws and ignore all your aspirations!

  21. Quebec independence referendum, 1995. we all know that the yes side tried its best to win by discarding NO ballots. Further downs see how many ballots get discarded when the Liberals win an election compared to when the PQ get elected. Corruption ?


  22. Oh Jacques, if you are not in politics already, you should be. Really like to around semantics, do you not? Okay, let me ask you a direct question.

    Well Troy, the difference between Japan's (or Québec's or Greece's) net debt and it's gross debt is not a mere semantic imprecision. Japan's gross debt is more than double its net debt. So is Québec's. So I'm not "quibbling" when I point up people comparing the net debt to gdp of Greece to the gross debt to gdp of QC (incl federal debt). I'm showing that they're fraudsters trying to pass off apples for oranges. So let me ask you a direct question: why are they doing it? Why are they hysterically pretending that QC nets more $ from the feds than 6 anglo provinces with only 2/3 of QC's population do, when Statscan's own data proves the contrary? What's motivating these cretinous lies?

    It's not "semantics" to point out that an independence movement in E. Timor declared unilateral independence without a referendum in 1975, after having only won local elections. Because in the quarter century separating that event from the 1999 referendum, the Indonesian army and security forces came in and wiped out a (reportedly) very large portion of the east-timorese population, and subjected it to unspeakable hardships. I would think that would have done a fair bit to discredit the "option" of maintaining a link to Indonesia, wouldn't you?

    Suppose a popular referendum on sovereignty, supervised by the international community, were to have been held on the morrow of the British Conquest of New France, during which 1/7th of Québec's population was wiped out, during which civilians were raped and summarily murdered, and Quebec City completely destroyed? What do you think the results would have been in a secret ballot vote on sovereignty? Unfortunately they didn't have this option. It was a long time ago, and they didn't have Mia Farrow or Vanessa Redgrave or Bono or Naomi Klein to draw attention to their plight.

    What's so unclear about asking if Québec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer of economic partnership with Canada? Neither you nor adski have explained why this is less clear than what the feds were asking people to vote on in the Charlottetown Accord. The question didn't commit Québec to obtaining an economic partnership, only to realizing sovereignty.

    And what does the "strength" of the state concerned have to do with any of this? E. Timor was a basket-case fresh victim of genocide. Chechnya was a mafia-state dictatorship which obtained its revenues from stealing Russian oil. The gang who declared independence only did so after overthrowing a democratically elected assembly and rigging elections to a new one. What does that have to do with anything?

  23. There are two guys here who are fighting just like the REST of Canada against us francophones. They are the bastards of those who mutilated us in Trois-Rivières, burned our church in Acadia, and deported us in the Mississipi area. So we are independant, we are a nation. The best revenge is to live better.

  24. The Acadian deportation and the conquest of Quebec happened over 250 years ago, during a world war between the empires of France and Britain. The only people behaving like 'bastards' these days are the Quebecois.

  25. The mutilation and hate for the French in this continent will never be forgotten. You are making a terrible mistake. We don't owe you anything at all. We worked hard for our life, our rights, our language, and keep faith in our religion, even if now they are all shaky (the Protestants are living a swell schism !)The only true people are the Quebecois. Your arrogance is purely to conquer what is not for sale. Your jalousy and immaturity towards a race who struggled under abusive England colonists is not important to us, as we are survivors of English abuse since 4 centuries. The whole world knows about it. Ihope one day the Quebeckers will be on the European market and be stronger than ever by making the Quebeckers abroad to vote for their solidarity and let them keep in touch with their homeland. We shed a lot of blood under the rose of England on our land, we deserve peace.

  26. To Anon. at 8:35 PM:

    Don't you realize that you're writing gibberish?

  27. Tell me what University did you go to ? Disneyland ?