Monday, January 31, 2011

Five Billion Reasons to Say No

There's not much I can add to slag Gilles Duceppe's demand that Stephen Harper's Conservatives cough up an additional 5 billion dollars to Quebec in order to secure the Bloc Quebecois' votes in the upcoming Spring budget. LINK

Commentators and journalists have been attracted to the story like bees to honey or like flies to......well... suffice to say there's been a lot of ink and bandwidth devoted across Canada expressing universal rage and condemnation coupled with the supplication that Mr. Harper must do the honourable thing and reject the unholy demand that Quebec be paid off to insure that the government of the day remains in power.

In politics we call Mr. Duceppe's demand, gamesmanship or horsetrading. In real life we call it blackmail.
But no matter.

While columnists rage  at Mr. Duceppe's unmitigated effrontery, they have unfortunately entirely missed the point.

It should be patently obvious, even to the most naive political observer, that Duceppe formulated his demands to pick at the scab of Anglo resentment in relation to Quebec entitlements and to generate the exact anti-Quebec reaction that he has.
If he really wanted the money, he would have pursued the matter behind closed doors, horsetrading with a senior Conservative operative to 'cut a deal.' That's how things are done in Ottawa.

And so it was never about the money, it was about exacerbating the never-ending Canada versus Quebec polemic. In that respect Duceppe has again scored a brilliant victory as Canadians fall neatly into his 'piege'. It's surprising that so few commentators are able to see past the ridiculous demand, such is their hatred for Duceppe and their belief that he is an unsophisticated clown.
Canadians are used to taking people at face value, they assume that if someone says something, they actually mean it. When it comes to Gilles Duceppe, it's a rather naive assumption as he is a grand master at negotiating in bad faith.  

As ridiculous as Canadians find his demands, not so in Quebec, where the theme that the  province is chronically short changed by Ottawa plays well and where that special ability to employ voodoo accounting methods leads to the inevitable conclusion of financial oppression.

In Quebec, defending the principle of asymmetrical benefits has been raised to an art form and where any argument, no matter how vacuous can be invoked to justify the notion that Quebec is a financial victim of federalism.

Illustrating this phenomenon is the recent demand that Quebec receive in excess of 50% of the economic spin-offs in relation to the F-35 warplane contract signed with Lockheed Martin, based on the fact that Quebec is the historic home to Canada's aircraft industry.
Notwithstanding, when Ontario is awarded a disproportional slice of contracts in relation to military vehicles, because the automotive industry is Ontario-based, the howls of favouritism are raised in Quebec by nationalists claiming that Ottawa is once again, unfairly advantaging its favourite son.

Quebeckers are champion debaters and can always find an argument to counter any claim that they somehow advantaged. With just 22% of the population and 60% of the equalization pie, Quebec nationalists will tell us, with a straight face, that certain other provinces get 'proportionally higher benefits than Quebec.

When called out on the discrepancies, Quebec will claim that they are short-changed in other programs including military spending, native subsidies (because Quebec has comparatively few natives) or fishery programs because they are not an ocean province.

On and on it goes.
The debate is such that by the time all the facts and figures are bandied about by both sides, enough confusion reigns so that those who are predisposed to believe Quebec is spoilt, or alternately, deprived, can satisfy themselves that their position is solid. 

Voters have only so much capacity to absorb facts and figures and let's face it, considering that most can't balance their own cheque-book, understanding the vagaries of federal/provincial transfers is like quantum mechanics.

Most voters end up siding with the politician that they intend voting for and so any argument that makes the least sense, is accepted, as long as it sounds good. The Bloc is expert at making the 'these' shallow arguments, meant to confuse and confound the truth.
Ask Mr. Duceppe to explain why the Earth is flat and he'll produce a perfectly rational argument that will undoubtedly convince his constituency that it is indeed so!

So why did Mr. Duceppe stir the pot?

Well it seems that he smells an election coming or is ready to trigger one himself.

Mr. Duceppe, flush with Canadian cash via federal election campaign grants, favourable polling numbers and the likelihood that another hung parliament is in the offing, is looking for an issue to which the party can hang its hat onto.

It is clear that  Mr. Duceppe will base his campaign on what Quebec doesn't receive from Ottawa, rather than what it does.
It's simple clean and appealing, as long as nobody challenges him on the numbers, he'll be fine. In Quebec there remains no federalist a la Stephane Dion (who is now a spent force)  to challenge or call out Mr. Duceppe over his fantastical and self-serving numbers.

If polling numbers remain firm, there will be no majority government. Mr. Harper will be returned to power under the very same circumstances as before.

There will be no coalition between the losing parties and that means we'll be right back where we started, 300 million dollars poorer (the cost of an election)  and an almost identical minority government.

And so Mr Duceppe and the Bloc endure.
While some commentators in Quebec are questioning the wisdom of voting for a party that is delivering nothing to Quebec, the Bloc has once again cleverly found a new argument to justify its existence.
It now portrays itself as the only political option available that can thwart a Conservative majority government, a scenario which they portray as apocalyptic. A Parliamentary majority would deliver to Mr. Harper the means to chop down Quebec and to reduce it to 'just another province' status, something they portray as an unmitigated disaster.

They may be right.....


  1. The answer to Duceppe should be a resounding go stick it up your Axx. This is nothing than political blackmail predicated by a politician who is only interested in furthering his own agenda without regard to the country as a whole.

    The facts on equalization payments ( and the fraudulent manner in which Quebec neatly excludes its hydro revenue through subsidies from equalization formulaes) agricultural subsidies, CBC french language production, day care subsidies, university subsidies etc etc. are becoming well known by the people in the ROC who are paying the tab.

    If Harper would give in this blackmail you can be sure that it will cost him a lot of seats outside of Quebec. Myself, I think the
    Cons have pretty well given up in Quebec and are moving on to other areas such as the GTA to garner a majority. If you recall, Harper and Flaherty opened to the floodgates to Quebec to buy votes only to be blindsided by the paltry cut to cultural travel allowances.

    Also, consider what is going on in Alberta, with Stelmach resigning and either Ted Morton (highly critical of current equalization formulaes) or the new leader of the Alberta Wild Rose Party, Danielle Smith... These people have their gunsights clearly aimed at the current manner in which Ottawa panders to Quebec with their money. (similar sentiments in SK, BC and ON).

    Duceppe may be savvy with his current demands as the editor indicates. Creating friction, he has successfully done with the West. He should be very careful, however, as the ROC is becoming increasingly agnostic with regards Quebec. Should the leaders decide to bring the facts with regards to the special entitlements to Quebec in their respective provincial elections you can bet that any sympathy for Quebec will be significantly eroded.

    For me, I believe the threats by Duceppe and the seppies are simply empty threats. In actuality, Quebec is a bankrupt province with a debt of over 200 billion. If equalization payments were stopped I doubt those in Quebec would like their taxes increased by likely close to 15% to cover the shortfall.

    The one thing that should be done immediately is to stop the 2.00 subsidy per vote for political parties as Harper wanted to do. I, for one, dont like my dollars being spent on Mr. Duceppe and the BQ, whom on their own intiatives, would be out of business without this subsidy (they raised less than 800 K of compaign donations in the last election). Seems that the people of Quebec are not all that generous when it comes to their own money!!!!

    Canada would be better of without Quebec and the incessant whining, bitching and begging.

  2. Hey, what is this insinuation that Quebec is a poor province? That is just a myth, you know. Quebec is actually a rich country. This is the evidence:

    Follow that link to go to the other 9 volumes of that series.

  3. Another great article, thank you writer.
    How can these so called politicians continue to create a militant mentality among the separatist movement? It seems they are inciting hate during a time when we should be pushing to be more unified. They must be so desperate at this point that they are pushing these tactics harder. Eventually there has to be a boiling point and the blood will be on their hands.

  4. Troy @ 11:58

    I read the articles and had a good laugh. Probably the best response is to just publish a translation of the articles, a superb example of the 'argue anything' talent that these imaginative writers possess.

    Anybody interested in doing a translation which I'll publish?

  5. "something they portray as an unmitigated disaster.

    They may be right....."

    Possibly a disaster for Quebec but a major win for the ROC and especially the West.

  6. Je suis un indépendantiste et je ne fais plus confiance en Duceppe depuis un bon moment....

    Car un homme qui siège au parlement canadien et qui encaisse des cheques du gouvernement fédéral payer a meme les impots des canadiens pour sièger la-bas et qui se pretend indépendantiste.....yeah rigth....c'est une farce grossière. Tous ce qu'il fait la-bas c'est ((whiner)) ....

    De plus je porte nullement de confiance en un homme qui dirige son parti comme si c'était le Parti communiste chinois ou qui vante les mérites du projet du North AMerican UNion mais qui d'un autre coter pretend combattre le federalisme canadien ....pure bullshit. Il est un foutu federaliste nord americain!!!

    J'espère juste qu'il va se planter dans ses demandes au fédéral ,ce pauvre con!

  7. "Hey, what is this insinuation that Quebec is a poor province? That is just a myth"

    Yeahh Riiighhht. Must be true if its on Wished they would tell the feds so they could quit sending welfare to Quebec.

  8. @Anonymous 3:25PM

    Lighten up buddy, Troy was being facetious :) though there is a grain of truth that some are throughly convinced that if it's posted on Vigile (aka Le Journal de la Pseudo-Victimization) then it must be true.

  9. Congrats to you again, Editor! You have just pointed out once again the need for a federally-led party that is ready and willing to put Quebec in its place.

    22% of the population = 22% of the federal revenues;

    22% of the federal tax dollars raised = 22% of the allocation (and if that 22% of the population can't make up 22% of the federal revenues, than every fraction of a % they get over that is a bonus!

    60% of the Equalization money is downright ridiculous and getting $4.75 for every $1 Ontario gets in immigration funding is outrageous, and if Harper can't see why he isn't winning over Ontario voters, he really is an idiot.

    Quebec is a lost cause for trying to win consitituencies, so why even bother investing in Quebec, period? Screw Quebec, divest in them and put the money where the votes are. Don't follow the money, follow the votes WITH the money. Quebec will lose big-time.

    Let the crime fit the punishment. Quebec is going to find ways to bitch how they get constantly gypped no matter what that it's barely worth campaigning there to begin with. Focus on the constituencies that have produced victory in Quebec and screw the rest.

    My idea of a federal everything-but-Quebec party would only focus on where it CAN win--the West Island, West-Central Montreal, Chomedey and Ste-Dorothée in Laval (screw everything east of Boul. des Laurentides) and screw everything east of St. Laurence St. including the common trash of Pointe-aux-Trembles, the even trashier, retarded and hickish Sagueneens and Lac-St-Jean-ers. THEY ARE WORTHLESS! THEY ARE COMMON TRASH NOT WORTH THE SALT THEY'RE MADE FROM!

  10. @ MG

    I agree with your post entirely, but seeing as I live in St.Leonard,an Italian bastion, I think this new federal party would have a pretty good chance of winning here since almost everyone is pro-Canada here. The only major obstacle in places like St. Leo, Montreal-Nord that they're Liberal strongholds. I suggest that this party gives up after RDP, it's pretty much a lost cause after there (fuck the Hochelagans Maisonneuve!!!). In addiction I agree with your last statement: FUCK THOSE HILLBILLIES FROM LAC SAINT JEAN! I was actually really surprised that almost 40% of Sagueneens voted NO in the last referendum...

  11. No no no! Stephen Harper know how to deal with those Quebecois that's for sure!

  12. Miss Guy, that last paragraph was not called for and is quite disgusting.

  13. Harper doesn't know what to do. Anglos don't want to hear about cultural budget. That put Harper on the edge.... while culture is what the French are all about (heritage grants, museums, etc..). Look at France!

    No, Canada is not well represented, come on! Canada is poorly handled with poor politicians, inside a confederation which is like a gurdle holding together people who can't stand one another. This is disgusting. What are you all thinking, with your rear end !

  14. Hugo S., you're right...absolutely right, but I was speaking metaphorically. Sadly, I perceive too many of these people as narrow-minded bigots à la the American South who still see the black folk as inferior. Too many of them have NEVER been out of their domain and therefore provincial in their thinking and outlook (please pardon the pun).

    I don't see them as cerebrally sophisticated, and heaven knows I speak to people from those regions each and every day on the telephone for my work.

    There are times I simply give up on the lot of them because I do not see them progressing collectively. There are those amongst them that do have the intelligence to think more broadly, but collectively, not too much.

    The Bouchard-Tayor Commission brought out the Archie Bunkers of the lot and you could feel the bigotry rising to the surface in too many of them. Hérouxville was just ONE little place that very much represented the homogenous population outside of the Greater Montreal Area.

    Being Jewish myself, I still remember the arson and sabotage that was inflicted on Jewish summer cottages, and the one townsfolk in Val David who said the Jewish homeowners are unsociable. I guess that's reason enough for the justifiable vandalism and the SQ who did sweet f-all to solve the crimes. To my knowledge, not one single perpetrator of these crimes has been caught never mind convicted!

  15. Mississauga why can't you sell shoes in Montreal and preach what you are saying on this blog !You will see how popular you can get !

  16. "I don't see them as cerebrally sophisticated..."

    Et vous travaillez dans un centre d'appels dans une banlieue de l'ontario? Wow! Quel esprit raffiné...Gros colon de (suburban) d'anglo va!

  17. Non,je suis riche et je ne travaille plus. J'aiderai le QC a devenir libre,de sales cochons comme vous.

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