le 5 décembre 1998
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.
MUSINGS BY MADDOCKS
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
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.
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
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
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.