Montréal, le 5 décembre 1998
Numéro 26
(page 6) 
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            Vos commentaires 
 by Ralph Maddocks
          The Quebec election is over and the inmates have retained control of the asylum. As Kipling wrote, « The tumult and the shouting dies – The captains and the kings depart », although it seems that we may be stuck with these two particular captains for a while.  
          Kipling also asked God to be with us yet. « Lest we forget. » I don't suppose there are many of us who will forget, even though we may desperately wish to do so. The thirty three days of the campaign seemed interminable, and must have seemed so to many. Once again the ambiguous nature of the Quebec electorate showed up clearly in the pre-election polls and in the vote itself; a very clear rejection of a third referendum and support for the party that is intent on having one. I don't suppose that the average man, or woman, in-the-street can understand the phenomenon, it certainly requires a flexibility of mind that few possess. 
          What marked this campaign was the duplicity, the terminological inexactitudes, unbelievably opportunistic changes of direction, concessions to blackmail and blatant bribery, the whole accompanied by a mainstream press playing the role of government propaganda agency. 
The coulour of my vote 
          Everywhere one looked, there were posters of various individuals expressing their confidence in someone or other. Sickly green faces leered at us as they sought to convince us to select their particular entrant in the candidate stakes. Others, in bright primary colours invited us to put our trust in their option. 
          One wonders if those who chose these colour schemes understood the significance of their choices. Green signifies a quest for better living conditions, such as improved health or a longer life. A preference for green indicating someone who wants their opinions to prevail, who feels himself the representative of basic and immutable principles. A person who puts himself on a pedestal and lectures others. Sound familiar? 
          Other posters contained two colours; red and blue. Red is the expression of vital force, an urge to win, an expression of vitality and power, an urge to transform. The « force of the will » as opposed to the « elasticity of the will » expressed by the colour green. Red is also associated with someone who wants his activities to bring him intensity of experience and fullness of living. The colour red was tempered by the Blue which indicates a desire for calm. An understandable sentiment, particularly after the event. 
The coulour of money 
          In some quarters, much outrage was expressed when it was mentioned that personal income taxes should be trimmed and subsidies to companies reduced. Cries went up with statements along the lines of « We don't want Harris reforms in this social democratic heaven of ours ». Yet Mr. Harris has reduced both personal taxes and unemployment in his province. In 1997, the average Quebec family earned $49 000, compared to nearly $60 000 in Ontario. Another result of Mr. Harris' ministrations is that Ontario can borrow money at lower rates of interest than can Quebec which pays a rate higher than even our poor cousin, Newfoundland. In fact, if Quebec got the same rate as Ontario it would probably free up enough money, judiciously targeted, to prevent  the unnecessary deaths of those who can't afford the Quebec drug prescription scheme. According to the Fraser Institute, you can only begin to put your own money into your pocket after June 6. Why would anyone of sound mind not insist on electing a government that aimed to cut  taxes and improve their chances of employment? Why are so many of our younger people leaving the province? Can it be part of the Quebec government's policy to reduce unemployment? 
          This « collectivist heaven », the home of ethnic solidarity, created and nurtured by both main political parties, has seen its ratio of investments in machinery and equipment compared to Ontario go from over 70% in 1972 to just over 40% last year. Although Quebec has almost a quarter of the country's population, it receives only about one sixth of all Canadian private investment; and its share of Canada's Gross Domestic Product  is just over one fifth. For years, Quebec unemployment has been consistently higher than the Canadian average and the rate of job creation has been virtually immobile since the recession in 1991. A period when the rest of Canada has had employment growth rates over 6% 
What have we done to ourselves? 
          Well, apparently, many of us have voted for a government that cruelly slashed health costs in order to reduce its debt, while obliging us all to accept the extended waiting times of an appallingly and increasingly uncaring health service. We have voted for a government that cuts services, even when those services may have provided more benefit than their cost. We have voted for a government that pours millions of our tax dollars into job creation subsidies and training programmes. Presumably to make up for the jobs it loses by its determination to continue its minimum wage and other restrictive labour policies. We have voted for a government that continues to let the poorest segment subsidize the education of the richest. We have voted for a government that spends, and invariably wastes, our taxes on the support of unprofitable companies. We have voted for a government that believes in interfering with the market, that attempts to regulate prices, believing that free markets don't work We have voted for a government that, even though it's actions may be in violation of various trade agreements, tries to restrict agricultural trade. 
          We have voted for a government that sings the praises of decentralization (even separation) and yet continues to refuse to devolve power to its municipalities. We have voted for a government that tries to make it harder for its citizens to express themselves freely. We have voted to continue to maintain what is arguably the most hostile business climate in North America. We have even voted to continue all the above and make sure that the rest of Canada picks up part of the tab through Federal equalization payments. As the forthright Mr. Parizeau remarked, Quebec should get everything it can, while it can. Not too surprising when one considers that Quebec gets back 8 billion dollars more than it contributes in taxes.  
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