Bill 60 hearings coming up echo Bill 14’s lengthy debate

PQ’s politics of distraction mask province’s growing debt and sagging economy

By Kevin Woodhouse

At the start of last year, The Suburban spoke to Jacques Cartier MNA Geoffrey Kelley as the Parti québécois was starting its consultation for the eventual adoption of Bill 14, a law designed to tighten language laws in the province.

Kelley noted that “It is very disappointing to see the government moving ahead on things that could hurt the economy. Pushing the language debate and sovereignty is not acting in the best interest of Quebecers when there are proposed cutbacks in infrastructure spending when there are lots of pending issues for West Island residents.”

“Bill 14 is opening up questions that we had hoped had been solved already,” Kelley said. “The province needs to generate wealth to get out of debt and get the economy on track, not have more language police and debates.”

And while public protest and uproar eventually squashed the noxious bill, days and weeks were taken up on the sole issue, while the province’s debt continues to mount, the unemployment rate is higher in the province than the rest of the country and our growth is slower as well. 

And instead of getting our resource-rich province out of the have-not category, relying less on transfer payments from other resource rich provinces like Alberta, 2014 will start with public hearings on Bill 60, an invent-a-crisis proposed law that will only serve to divide Quebecers event further, which seems to be the government’s plan in the even the second referendum, many now believe the Marois government is doing whatever they can to prepare the field for a third referendum Aside from the PQ’s usual obsessions about language and culture, the Marois administration has also made every effort to cut expenses as it struggled to keep the province’s balance sheet from slipping into a billion dollar deficit.

Even so, Quebec’s Finance Minister Nicholas Marceau had to recently report that the province missed its mark by some $2.5 billion dollars. As if that wasn’t bad enough, recent reports indicate that the province’s entire education system is being affected by assorted budget cuts as recent figures indicate that high school students who happen to live in the city’s west end have twice the chances of graduating with a high school degree than do high school students who live east of the Décarie Expressway. As a final irony, junior college students within the city’s French-speaking CEGEP system are reported to fear and loathe the province’s final French exam, without which they cannot graduate.

As of the week before Christmas,  the Institut de la Statistique du Québec released its annual report which indicates that only Prince Edward Island (population 138,000) has less disposable income per family than Quebec. As Quebec is already known as the most taxed province in the nation, the institute’s figures indicate that the province’s tax policies $26,347 worth of disposable income per family lags far behind the Canadian average which was pegged at $29,907 per family.

Just as many blame the province’s onerous tax policies as being one of the major reasons why Quebecers have less money in their pocket, Quebec’s Premier Marois is still talking about le modéle Québecois as an ideal economic model for the 21st century. While the province doesn’t have the resources, the population, the capital and the workforce it needs to build a successful working environment, Madame Marois should consider that it’s going to take a lot more than wishful thinking and massive government subsidies to rebuild Québec’s faltering economy.

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