Friday, June 16, 2017

10 Catastrophic Years after Sovereignty for Quebec

"10 Catastrophic Years after Sovereignty"

So says Premier Philippe Couillard in the National Assembly in a rather spicy dressing down at newly-elected co-leader of Quebec Solidaire and ex-student anarchist, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
According to the Premier, the day after sovereignty, Quebec would become impoverished and would have to sacrifice social programs, public services and this, according to him, for at least ten years. Link{fr}
Actually, I think the Premier is being a bit generous in surmising that the pain of sovereignty would be limited to a decade, but alas that is neither here nor there. 
Convincing hard-core sovereigntists that independence would be disastrous is like telling suicide bombers that there aren't 72 virgins awaiting them in Heaven, it is sadly the same mentality.

I am not writing this piece in order to offer up facts figures and otherwise concrete proof of the economic folly of sovereignty, because I've done it before as have countless others.
 UQAM's Nutty Professor
 PQ To Canada... How's About "Friends with Benefits?"
The Trouble with Sovereignty
The Trouble with Sovereignty, Part 2
Seven Dirty Lies of the Sovereignty Movement

For die hard sovereigntist fantasists, alternate facts, fake news and pipe dreams offered up by cynical and dishonest separatist leaders are just the medicine to countervail the gloom and doom predicted by nasty federalists like myself.
Listening to the likes of ignorant blowhards like Mario Beaulieu or the doufus Martine Ouellet talk economics makes it easy lampoon separatist leaders as dummies, but other, more credible separatist leaders like Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard and economist Jean-Martin Aussant, all militated for sovereignty under the guise that Quebec would be just fine. It is the dishonesty of the educated and well-informed that continues to irk me to no end.

There have been precious few scholarly attempts by the sovereignty movement to show how an independent Quebec would fare after sovereignty, with good reason as you can imagine, and so Quebeckers have been left to their own devices to figure out the truth.
Over the decades since the last referendum, the message of Quebec poverty after sovereignty has finally sunk in, regardless of the nonsense sovereigntist leaders spew with those on the fence in the debate have largely jumped over to the federalist side, the reason sovereigntist support has plummeted in recent years.

The sovereignty movement has descended into a sad spectacle of the blind leading the wilfully blind with leaders and followers determined to ignore reality with deception and alternate facts.
Arguing economics is almost impossible with die-hard separatists, as they are expert at offering an alternate reality in which the fiction that Quebec sends more to Ottawa than it receives and that Quebec is always short-changed on federal programs.
It plays well to the converted because of the simplicity of the message, the time-honoured 'done-me-wrong' refrain.

I'm reminded of a fishing trip I made with a sovereigntist friend right after the failed referendum of 1995. We ventured up past Dolbeau in the Saguenay region to an area known as ZEC, a government controlled wilderness.
Over the campfire, my friend J.P got around to talking politics and asked me about the economics of sovereignty and if Quebec could be actually be viable after independence. It was an honest question from a friend who viewed Quebec Independence not as a slight towards Canada, but more like a  grown up child leaving the family home to strike it out in his own, with continued love and loyalty to the family.

He started quoting economic numbers, the oft repeated scenario in which Quebec could make it economically with only a small drop in standard of living.
I realized then that it was well nigh impossible to argue the point with someone convinced and so took another tack, a fact something that sovereigntists willingly ignore.

How many Quebecers would leave after sovereignty and what would the economic impact be?
 This is the argument that no sovereigntist will dare broach because it is in essence the straw that will break the sovereigntist dream.

Every time a sovereigntist talks about the economic future of an independent Quebec, ask him or her how many people will leave and you'll get the blankest of stares.  It is the one factor sovereigntist cannot face.

Will it be 5%, 10%, 15% or even more? Nobody knows.
But one thing I know for sure,  anything over 5% will send Quebec over the economic waterfall into the abyss.

Now many sovereigntists have told me that if Canada won't play ball on economic conditions after sovereignty, like open borders and trade, the province can always renege on its portion of the national debt.
First let me say that Canada can very well survive that with the yearly savings on equalization payments to Quebec, easily carrying the additional debt.

But the opposite argument applies, what if it is Canada doesn't play nice?
What if Canada makes an offer to individual Quebecers to move to Canada, with perhaps a five or ten year tax holiday? How much would that accelerate desertions?
What if Canada does the same for business, offering sweetheart terms and conditions which are really no skin off its nose since these businesses are lost to Canada already.  Quebec would be blackmailed into granting the same concessions, further weakening its tax base.

Can it happen? Of course it can.
After the American War of Independence, the British offered loyalists land holdings in Canada as a reward for their service. About 10% of those living in the newly independent 13 colonies left and settled in Canada, some returning to England.

Every time a sovereigntist mouths off over the viability of an independent Quebec, ask him or her how many will leave.
It represents the coup de grace of the sovereignty dream.


  1. Mr. Berlach,

    Would you be able to substantiate this claim of yours? But one thing I know for sure, anything over 5% will send Quebec over the economic waterfall into the abyss. Not that I disagree with you, but surely there are quantitative and qualitative reasoning beyond pure conjecture. As well one may also argue that:

    1. Hundreds of thousands of non-fracophone Quebecers left after Bill 101. Yet the province still survives, albeit in decline than previous. Fast forward to 2017, Quebec in good shape economically. Compare that with Alberta, the once golden child now in despair due to low price of petroleum.

    2. You brought up the example during the U.S. Revolution when the British offered rewards for the United Empire Loyalist. The UEL may be the seed of what made English Canada like it is today but the fact remains that the Revolution succeeded and the United States was to grow into the most powerful nation on the face of the planet Earth, multiple times more powerful than Canada, the United Kingdom and France combined.

    1. exactly troy. quebec would be just fine. is quebec population educated? yes. does it have working democratic institutions? yes. does it have a culture of democracy? yes. can it produce energy? big time. does it have high tech businesses around? many. does it have natural resources to harvest? huge amounts. does it have a gdp per capita that puts it oecd midpack? yes. does it have enough people to sustain all this? yes 8 million is way enough. if belgium, sweden, switzerland, finland, slovakia, new zealand and israel can strive, so can quebec.

    2. Umm student..all you state above is based on quebec within canada. There will not be 8 million people in quebec after seperation. Do you really think the amglos will stay or the allophones? Do you know how much money these two groups contribute to quebec..higher per average than framcophones. Believe me that not many anglophones are in quebec unless they have a good salary.
      We have the highest debt and taxes in north america within canada. That gets worse with independance..a lot worse.
      7 million or less francophones next to 28 million amgry canadians and 300 million indofferent to annoyed americans..after think these blocs will try hard to trade fairly with quebec and do you think quebecers will need to speak more or less english..think about it.

      Quebec will lose 15+ billion.per year from canada..their economy decimatef as people flee..businesses leave. France will not come to the rescue as they are economically weak and getting weaker.

    3. @complicated

      that's just standard fear mongering you're offering our community. money will vanish! english will take over! people will flee! haha! it works on many easily impressed french canadians unfortunately, but not on highly educated people who prefer to look at the facts i proposed here above and that can be summed up this way: quebec has all it needs to prosper as an independant country. if sweden can pull it off why can't quebec?

      "you think these blocs will try hard to trade fairly with quebec ...?"

      oh! so english canadians are not fair? well one reason more to split apart. thanks for bulletproofing my case mate.

    4. Your facts are based on the current within canada.
      If you think that quebec will maintain 8 million people then you really are in la la land.
      English canadians are fed up with a quebec that whines incessantly yet is propped up by money from the rest of canada. And the day we have to go through actual seperation I can guarantee you that the rest of canada will say good riddance and they will not make life easy as payback for the decades of uncertainty quebec has caused.
      Explain to me how 6-7 million people saddled with a huge debt and high taxes and a devastated economy from everyone leaving would prosper? Look at what the election of the pq did to quebec..montreal fell to a distant second to toronto..until very recently no real new infrastructure..tons of businesses and jobs left. Montreal looks like a war zone in many areas with crumbling bridges and huge potholes and decsying buildings..a louer signs everywhere. This happened after only a pq will be worse if real seperation happens.
      6-7 milluon people or being within a strong bilingual country of 35 contest which is better.
      I often wonder student why people like you are so angry at the english. What happened to you to motivate you to come regularly on an anglophone blog to antagonize people? Did you suffer sone horribke humiliation from an emglish oerson..or did you grow up listening to all the propoganda from your parents and grandparents? I often wonder what causes people to becone so ignorant and close minded..maybe you can enlighten us on where your anger and frustration comes from?

    5. No so fast, student. One of the reasons that the United States was able to grow is the utter and massive incompetence of the French (and Spanish) colonists.

    6. @complicated

      "I often wonder student why people like you are so angry at the english."

      i'm not angry at all. what makes you think such a thing?!?

      "What happened to you to motivate you to come regularly on an anglophone blog to antagonize people?"

      i'm a student. i study the angryphone phenomena.

      "Did you suffer sone horribke humiliation from an emglish oerson.."


      "did you grow up listening to all the propoganda from your parents and grandparents?"

      yes just like you mate.

      "maybe you can enlighten us on where your anger and frustration comes from?"

      i'm not angry. please quote something so i can understand what brings you to think i'm angry.

    7. Anyone who comes on this blog day in and day out poking fun at anglos any chance they get obviously has great disdain of anglophones.
      The amount of time you put into checking this site and commenting is staggering for someone who is clearly the opposite of 95 percent of the people reading this blog.
      If I spent 10 percent of the time you do commenting on seperatist blogs then I would think I have a problem.
      First of all you rarely have any real argument to make but instead just make smart ass antagonizing comments which are clearly meant to provoke.
      Hence you obviously have a real vendetta against anglos in quebec to spend so much time and energy doing so.

  2. The more interesting question for me is: What will happen to the sovereignty movement when a leader emerges that lays down the reality for post-independence, a la the points Philip makes above?

    I personally think that is the key to success for their movement. If a leader emerges who says: hey, folks, independence will NOT be pretty; there will be all sorts of economic consequences. But it is the price we will have to pay if we want to have our own nation.

    I'm not so sure the people won't go for it. If the urge for nationhood is strong in the bosom of a people, economic strife may be a price they are willing to pay.

    Another thing such a leader should be honest about is that in an independent Quebec there won't be any Bill 101. That is inevitable...especially if the very likely scenario Philip spells out above comes to pass. An independent Quebec will be DESPERATE to attract investment and business, especially on the heels of the stoppage of all equalization payments and transfer payments from Ottawa. That means drawing upon the investment power, entrepreneurial skills, and professionals abundant in the "Sea of English" surrounding Quebec. And Quebec is NOT going to get what they need vis a vis this kind of human resource from the world francophonie: Haiti and France will NOT supply investment, entrepreneurs, and professionals that Quebec will need. And that means: No Bill 101 in an independent Quebec. The vast resources of the Sea of English will have to be enticed to come to Quebec...and that means being able to study, work, invest, and interact with the government in unilingual English.

    And Quebec won't need the artificial protection of a Bill 101 because they will have the "natural" protection for the French language and culture that the boundaries of an independent Quebec will automatically provide.

    And, of course, it has been PQ policy since their first convention some 50 years ago that anglos will enjoy all the rights that they enjoy as part of Canada. Now, the PQ hasn't thought this through but that means that Quebec must become officially bilingual in an independent Quebec because at least as far as the section 91 powers of the BNA Act are concerned (the federally designated powers of the constitution) these fall under official bilingualism. And this, according to PQ policy, will be transferred to Quebec after independence. So the National Assembly will become completely officially bilingual in an independent Quebec (it is only partially officially bilingual today).

    Honesty sometimes IS the best policy. And the last two referendums on independence were fought by adopting "the world will be rosy post-independence" policy. Get a leader that adopts the "this will be a tough economic grind with dire consequences for your pocketbook post-independence" approach and this, I believe, will change the entire ballgame. I'm not saying that it will work, but I am saying that it will enable the Quebec people to "sh*t or get off the pot" and such an approach will tell us whether or not Quebec SHOULD become independent. And it very well may.

    I personally want independence not because I feel in my gut ,as do many Quebecois de souche, that Quebec is a nation that must realize its true essence. I support independence for the simple reason that it is inevitable that the hate law/race law Bill 101 will be eliminated and full human rights and minority rights will be returned for Quebec anglos. You see, for me, I'd rather live in an independent Quebec in which rights are respected than in a Quebec within Canada in which they aren't.

    1. "I personally want independence..."

      did you join jennifer drouin's group?

      "You see, for me, I'd rather live in an independent Quebec in which rights are respected than in a Quebec within Canada in which they aren't."

      are you refering to the right to not respect francophones by not putting a french translation on your store signs?

    2. Dear studeant asks:

      "are you refering to the right to not respect francophones by not putting a french translation on your store signs?"

      Yes, I most certainly am referring to the right to not respect francophones by not putting a french translation on a store sign.

      My right to "disrespect" -- if that is what such behaviour is -- must be constitutionally protected. Only totalitarian regimes -- such as Cuba and Venezuela -- have laws requiring respect. Disrepect is a subjective description, one that is easily regulated by the marketplace: if you feel a store is disrespecting you by not providing you service in French, your option is to exercise the power of your pocketbook and NOT shop at that store...and make a point of telling the storeowner why you aren't giving him your money. That is a much greater motivating factor to get him to provide you the service you believe you deserve than any law could ever hope to achieve.

    3. Dear Student, no I did not joint Jennifer Drouin's grouup. Not that familiar with them...I visited their Facebook page and submitted a post but they did not see fit to publish. So, if they aren't interested in what I have to say I wouldn't dream of joining their group.

    4. @tony

      "So, if they aren't interested in what I have to say I wouldn't dream of joining their group."

      what it is that you had to say? were you polite?

    5. Yes. I just posted a link to Amazon with a brief description of my book "Why Canada myst end". I thought it would be right up their alley. Apparently not.

    6. @tony

      hum maybe the don't want commercial advertisements on their boards. try instead to use a few of your arguments directly like you do here.

  3. Here is a book that I have always found interesting about the possible aftermaths of independence :

    Written in 1994 by Alan Freeman and Patrick Grady. Many things have of course changed since 1994, but many things remain the same.

  4. Well this is the elephant in the many will leave and we arent talking about just non francophones.

    Many francophones would leave as businesses leave and investment leaves. Millions of francophones from quebec ended up in northestern usa and other provinces to find work.

    The population will drop from 8 to 7 million or even lower. I cant imagine anglo staying nor most allophones.
    The other thimg to keep in mind is how badly run this province has been by both the liberals and pq.
    Can you imagine the pq running a country?
    The irony is that 7 million or less francophones will be even more vulnerable as they now will have to trade with the rest of north america hence will need to speak evej more english. The rest of canada will abandon french and will go out of their way to make life difficult for quebec.
    France is not going to be a saviour to quebec as their economy spirals down the toilet. Quebec will lose 10-15 billion a year in payments from canada..have a huge debt..will be more isolated and hence their language will be more threatened as they will need investment and that will likely come from non francophone countries.
    Student is a typical la-la lamd seperatist who quotes numbers based on quebec within canada
    it will be a much different story if quebec is alone.

    1. haha. good one. i only offered pure facts up to now and you just keep parroting 100% speculative federalist mantra. and out of this matchup you conclude i'm the la-la land goofball. come on complicated please, now get real. even infamous crook and longtime canada champion jean charest admited independant quebec would be just fine.

    2. Lol..boy you are quite the hypocrite. Your facts are based on quebec within canada which is meaningless.
      Then you tell me that jean charest said an indeprndant quebev is viable..whoopppee..i mean jean charest is such a well redpected and competent/honest politician. If you are basing your arguments for seperation on a corrupt incompetent federalist politician then I weep for the seperatist movement.
      Give me some real numbers based on the reality of a seperate many people will stay in quebec after separation?

    3. my macts based on quebec whitin canada is not meaningless. democratic culture will not vanish. people will remain educated. universities will keep going. hydro dams will keep generating. gold and lumber will still be there. facts. quebec within or out of canada. on the other hand, your facts are not facts. they are speculations. opinions. please don't try to invert the situation again.

      my argument about charest is he's a hardcore federalist. he does not want quebec to separate. but he still had to admit, faced with evidence, that independant quebec is viable.

      "Give me some real numbers based on the reality of a seperate many people will stay in quebec after separation?"

      you are asking me for real numbers on a situation that is not real. impossible to answer mate. i can still give my opinion on it. but i don't think the whole project is at risk because a bunch of canadian nationalists that will move out. many anglos will stay because quebec is their home. family, friends, etc. and a good chunk of the others will come back year 4 or 5 when they realized radicals writing comments on blogs were not as omniscient as they claim to be today. but hey that's as speculative as your crap, so don't take any of this for cash. just look at the facts: democracy, educated people, energy, resources.

    4. Well quebec will clearly be many people will leave to the country they know and thats canada. Hence a lot of well educated bilingual and rich people will flee.
      This will cause the government to be squeezed for cash..hence less money to educate people. Democracy.well yes that will remain..but that is no guarantee of economic success..many democratic countries are poorer than canada.
      Natural resources need investment to extract. Foreign investment willvdwindle in a new quebev or quebec will be forced to sweeten the pot to get this investment. The government will.not have the resourcrs to do it oj their own. The unions in quebev will be hell to deal with in a seperate quebec which will make it eben harder to attract foreign investment.
      For you to think english canadians will stay here is compkete lunacy on your part. Why would any sane anglophone stay in.a country that will eliminate all services in ones language and clearly becone a poor a stronger canada. You really have no comkon sense whatsoever..

    5. @complicated

      on top of all the useless doomsaying you make two important mistakes.

      first you equate population number and prosperity. which is wrong as many rich countries have less than quebec's population and many poor countries have a lot more people. so it's not that simple.

      the other mistake you make is not to consider the home concept. remember ed brown? he was totally against separation obvisouly as a passionate canadian nationalist. so was the late cutie003. how rabid was she?!? nonetheless they would have never left home. i don't know who you're talking about really that would actually move out. maybe young canadian nationalists without a job, without friends and without family. you may be right there might be a lot of these in montreal. but i don't think they will represent a huge loss for quebec society though.

    6. Its the sudden rate of change in population which is devastating not the actual population. If you suddenly lose 10-20 percent of your population its devastating to any country. Money leaves..businesses shut money coming into the government plummets yet you still have the same infrastructure as before for a much larger population.

      There is a big difference in living in a Quebec which is still within Canada and possibly talking about seperating one day and an actual seperate Quebec. Its the difference between fantasy and reality. You have to be delusional to think that there will not be a mass exodus out of this new unstable and weaker Quebec into a bigger richer Canada.

      If Quebec was rich like Alberta and was well run like Alberta then yes I could see a case for seperation but Quebec is totally mismanaged at all levels of government and has the highest debt and taxes of any place in North America. And its not the federal government the problem..the problem is home grown..we see it at the municipal level and the provincial level..corruption is more widespread here..and general mismanagement and an overly bloated bureaucracy.
      Again if Quebec cant even manage its affairs now within Canada then it has no hope as a seperate country. Quebec needs to prove it can reduce its debt considerably over at least 10 years..get its tax rates down..reign in all powerful and corrupt unions..then maybe I could start to consider a seperate Quebec. But I see absolutely nothing on the horizon that suggest Quebec will ever move in this direction.
      Quebecers notably francophones have bought into the socialist state idea of France in which the government knows best and all solutions must come from government and an inherent dislike of private enterprise.

    7. @complicated

      "Quebec needs to prove it can reduce its debt considerably over at least 10 years..get its tax rates down..reign in all powerful and corrupt unions..then maybe I could start to consider a seperate Quebec."

      ah! i knew you were a separatist. welcome aboard mate.

  5. Observe the situation in Venezuela RIGHT NOW. That will not be far off in a Separate Quebec.