Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Quebec's election - same ol same ol

Here we go Quebec. Its election time and the big question is: "are the separatists going to win?" Certainly the national press are tripping over themselves trying to disect the outcome, and its possible consequences. The last poll before the election is showing the PQ in the lead by 5% in a virtual three -way race. The same poll shows over 60% are against separation. Only 28% are backing that option. The second place runners are portaying themselves as nationalist business types that don't want to leave Canada yet, because the Quebec economy is not quite ready for that. Not a ringing endorsement, but second best in the snake pit. Question is though: " what message are Quebecers sending to the rest of the country."

The answer is typical politics Quebec style. Quebecers are poised to put in place a government that wants to get in the face of the federal government. Yet, they are not poised to give it a working majority. It will be held in check domestically by its weak election victory, but able to bark at the rest of the country at will. That suits a major purpose just on the horizon for all of Canada.

2013 marks the year of equalization negotiations. It will be one of the most divisive times in our history as a country, and threatens to rip the proverbial flesh from the bones. Provinces and territories standing against each other, and against the federal government, in a battle of wills over dollars. Equalization dollars. For Quebec last year that was around $8 billion - a huge part of their budget that helps pay for the european style social programs they enjoy. Those two issues are the heart of Quebec's election, and have been since the sixties. Socialism paid by the rest of Canada.

Fast forward to this election, and understand that Quebecers are not voting for a government to negotiate separation, but rather equalization. They are voting in the threat to achieve the goal. They are reigning in the threat with a weak government, but holding the card of a subsequent election up their sleeve. Each and every denial to them will be portrayed as a new and more grevious affront to Quebec's "legitimate aspirations". They understand that provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and even Newfoundland and Labrador will be seeking to hold onto their oil revenues while attacking Quebec's hydro revenues. They have a quasi partner in Ontario and some of the maritime provinces that are becoming more and more reliant on equalization.

The people in Quebec have turned small "s" socialist, as evidenced by their endorsement of the NDP federally. The PQ, while not strictly socialist, is the closest thing in provincial politics there. The second place party is more business oriented, which is a political philosophy that Quebecers do not entirely trust. The Liberals were a good mixture of both in theory, but not so much in practise.

Post election Quebec will be turbulent in itself. Corruption will become the interim major issue with provincial Liberals being roasted on the proverbial stick. Big business, organized crime, and probably federally orientated forces will be exposed. Deals like the privitization of oil and gas prospects from Hydro Quebec to small, Liberally connected energy firms will likely come into focus. Territorial challenges from Newfoundland and Labrador in the Gulf, and possibly Labrador, will be ignited. Deals and plans for the Plan Nord will certainly come under scrutiny. These times will unfold as a time of "truth". The separatists will portray the truth as the ideal of "Quebec society" being violated by federalists and corrupted, disloyal businesses. They will argue for a return to a managed economy with loyal crown corporations like Hydro Quebec centering that move. They will look to rescind deals that they deem do not serve Quebec's interest.

So, we enter a new time of conflict this coming week. Will the country respond as it always has? Will Quebec be given the Plan B scenario as Chretien gave it to them? Will gateways and northern plans be scuttled? Time will tell. All we can say for sure now is Quebec has chosen its champion.

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