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On peut tellement dire de choses sur l'état économique du Québec; le manque de liberté économiques, le marché du travail rigide, les faux déficits zéro, les subventions aux alumineries, le contrôle des prix, le gel des frais de scolarité etc. Néanmoins, ma bonne amie Barbara Kay l'exprime bien dans son article d'aujourd'hui

Quebec's grand illusion
Barbara Kay, National Post
Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stephen Harper saw defeat snatched from the jaws of victory when sovereigntist leaders gleefully parlayed his foolish pre-election announcement of relatively trivial arts cuts into a majority-blocking culture card. "When our culture is attacked," swooned PQ leader Pauline Marois, "it is all of Quebec that is attacked."

Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe fleshed out Marois' utterly false and incendiary statement with the words "there is a clash of two visions, that of Quebec and that of Harper."

In Duceppe's revealing province-person parallel, he posits Quebec as that utopian Marxist construct -- the "people" -- whose ideological commitment endows them with a single voice and will.

Both politicians tap into the same manichean myth that virtually all Quebec political, union and intellectual elites are keen to perpetuate: The unruly capitalistic world beyond Quebec is insecure and ruthless; but state-nannied Quebec is a successful, contentedly secure, culturally enlightened monolith.

Collectivist dogma has always ruled in Quebec: For three centuries, it was top-down religion; since the Quiet Revolution, it has been the top-down "Quebec Model," worshipped by Quebecers as the revealed truth. This "truth" insists that Quebec's oligarchical state-cum-union dirigisme has produced social equality at no discernible price.

In fact, ruinously profligate social programs like cheap universal daycare and frozen low tuition fees mostly benefit the wealthy (higher-income families produce almost 70% of Quebec university students). They are paid for by federal equalization payments or debt assigned to future generations.

Quebec is an economic flop, but most Quebecers don't know it. In 2003, out of 60 American states and Canadian provinces, only the Maritimes, Manitoba, West Virginia and Mississippi ranked lower in per capita Gross Domestic Product than Quebec, making it among the poorest industrialized regions of North America. Quebec is a sharing society, all right --except in other provinces like Alberta and Ontario they share the wealth, not the poverty.

So uniform is the mainstream media's loyalty to the Quebec Model, facts like these rarely filter down to individual Quebecois. But in 2007, a modest vehicle for truth, a crisply mounted documentary film, L'Illusion Tranquille ("The Quiet Illusion," a play on "The Quiet Revolution") made its way into a few Quebec art cinemas.

Researched, produced and self-financed by two Quebec City film amateurs, computer scientist Joanne Marcotte and her financial-advisor husband Denis Julien, the French-language film was viewed by perhaps 5,000 curious Quebecois.

The viewing numbers will pick up dramatically with the newly-released voice-over English version, produced with the help of the Fraser Institute and which enjoyed a successful Ottawa debut on Oct. 11.

If Quebec's political choices irritate and baffle you -- or if you erroneously believe Quebec delivers its oft-vaunted "social justice" at no hidden cost -- see this revelatory DVD (on sale at www. kafkaboutik.com).See it to be informed, but if for no other reason, see it to penetrate the wall of silence used by the mainstream francophone media to shield their audiences against criticism of the "sacrosanct" Quebec Model. The wall of silence ensured that press reaction to the French-language version of the film was, predictably, to shoot the messenger rather than acknowledge the message. A typical savaging came from a La Presse film critic, piqued because "the documentary asserts that Quebec shows no more solidarity and is no more egalitarian than its neighbours."

Heresy! It is retrograde, false consciousness, anti-Quebecois to assert that Quebec citizens are no better off than les autres!

Reverence for the Quebec Model depends on what anthropologists would call "magical thinking." Quebecers have been taught that money is something you get from the feds or the wealthy, not something you make. A CROP poll in 2007 found that 57% of respondents agreed that Quebec's social programs "should be as generous as possible, even at the risk of indebting future generations."

No Quebecois is exempt from ex-communication for apostasy. Even the once-sainted former separatist Lucien Bouchard was vilified as right-wing (the most invidious insult you can level at anyone in Quebec) when he and other realistic businessmen -- " les lucides" -- wrote a 2005 manifesto to "wake up" Quebecers from their trance of denial.

The most encouraging element of The Quiet Illusion was the good sense emanating from a circle of conservative young Quebecois student interviewees, who confidently and articulately disassociated themselves from the paralyzing strictures of Quebec Model dogmas. If these are the future political leaders of Quebec -- one can only pray they are -- there may be some light, even hope, at the end of the dark and airless Quebec Model tunnel we're trapped in.

National Post
Quebec's grand illusion

Vincent Geloso


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