1 mars 2011

More bullshit from the Canadian media's anti-Quebec free-for-all...

I don't want the blog to be necessarily about this, but it's just so damn easy. Why is it that one does not even have to make a concerted effort to find such gratuitous manipulation and distortion in the Anglo media when it comes to Quebec (its favourite subject, second only to it's other obsession: the US)?

Here's the latest piece of shit from the National Post (which is otherwise usually at least an interesting national media outlet, if only for its admitted conservative bias). It starts out making a legitimate point about the public finances in Quebec, asking why the province denies over-stretched Crown prosecutors a well-deserved raise to make their salary competitive with the salaries in other provvinces and at the federal level, while at the same time earmarking $200 million for the construction of the new Quebec City amphitheatre.

But of course, as with many an article on Quebec affairs, the legitimate melds almost seamlessly into a series of poorly researched value judgements and armchair gripes about those damn Frenchies. Ladies and gentlement of the jury, I present you...

Exhibit A

'Quebec only gets by thanks to the $8 billion to $10 billion it receives in equalization payments annually. This sum the province puts towards lavish social programs, such as cheap university and college tuition and inexpensive day care. Left to its own resources, Quebec could not afford these benefits.'

OK. So you think Quebec gets too much equalisation money and that its welfare state would be untenable in an independence situation. Fair enough, but at least be honest about your figures. The numbers mentioned above do not take into account all the money Quebec taxpayers send to Ottawa every year. The author makes it sound like Quebec gets a cool 10 billion every year, no questions asked, which would be an outrage if only it were true. 

The whole truth is that after the provinces contributions are taken into account, Quebec doesn't net even half that figure. For example, in 2007, Quebec's net equalisation benefits totalled $627 per inhabitant, or about $4.38 billion. Not ideal, by any means, but Manitoba, Saskatchewan, PEI, N.B., N.S. and the Newfs all received drastically more money per capita than Quebec in that same year, and that is actually consistent. Yet we don't ever see articles about how the Maritimes and Prairies need to get their shit together, do we? In the same year, 2007, Nova Scotia for example, with less than a million inhabitants, got over $5.6 billion in equalisation! Quebec got over a billion less and it has 7 times the population! Has anyone ever seen an outrageously critical article about Nova fucking Scotia? Never!

Exhibit B

'With plentiful natural resources and lots of cheap electricity, Quebec should have one of the strongest economies on the continent. Yet because of its high personal and corporate taxes, intrusive regulations and strict, complex labour codes – which favour unions and local workers – the province is a needlessly difficult place to do business.'

OK for the high personal taxes, I agree. The corporate taxes are among the lowest in North America (lower than Ontario's). This is where I have the impression that this fucking moron is just writing whatever the hell he feels like without even the most minimal research. And the regulations aren't really any more 'intrusive' than in the rest of the country, but whatever.

As flagrantly wrong as all that is, I can still sort of stomach that, as they are at least would-be semi-legitimate critiques that travel in the same general order of ideas, being that Quebec should adopt more classically liberal economic policies to improve its overall competitiveness in the free market. Note taken. 

But the very next sentence has absolutely nothing to do with economic policy whatsoever and has little or nothing to do with Quebec's economic performance; however, by neglecting to mention that, the author clearly wants the reader to make that intellectual leap of faith he himself has errantly made. Observe...

'Quebec’s restrictive language laws require business be done in French and make it difficult for English-speakers moving to the province to educate their children in any language other than French.' 

So, here we are supposed to assume, as the author does, that a requirement to conduct internal business in the official language is somehow helping to impoverish Quebec. Same for the fact that it can be difficult for English-speaking newcomers to send their kids to school in English. So, let me get this straight: In order for a territory to perform well economically, its government must pay for English-speaking foreigners' children to be educated in English? Big shot American businessmen don't do business in countries whose governments won't school their kids in English? Well, I guess that wipes out just about every non-anglo country on Earth then, doesn't it? 

I guess I can see some businessman saying something like: Sorry, Germany. As an English-speaking investor, I'm unwilling to benefit from your workforce's impressive expertise and your sizeable market because I'm just not cool with the fact that you won't pay for my kid to go to an English school while I'm living there. Yeah, that makes total sense. 

The author continues: 'Language police, of course, monitor the prominence of French on signs and packaging.' By 'language police', he is of course talking about roughly 5 civil servants who are paid to investigate citizen-lodged complaints pertaining to infractions of the Charte de la langue française, almost all of which are rectified gladly without issue. Wow, what a totalitarian commie hell-hole!

Do you see what I'm talking about here? The ridiculous hyperbole employed when discussing Quebec in almost any capacity has never been more bogus than it is these days in the pathetically predictable Canadian editorial press. A shrewdly dishonest media informing a grossly under-informed public about a subject they both already love to hate.

Too bad the Post isn't printed on softer paper. Then it would at least be useful for something.

I'll end the article with something you'll never find in a National Post editorial blogpost: sources!

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