Québec gains a breathing space

From the November-December 2012 issue of News & Letters

Québec gains a breathing space

Québec, Canada—The election of Pauline Marois as Premier of Québec has brought some change and a small but significant breathing space by getting rid of the utterly corrupt government of former Premier Jean Charest. There are openings to look at problems anew and make needed changes.

Marois attempted to reform the healthcare tax by abolishing the flat tax as a way to distribute the contributions more equitably according to income. It would impose new taxes on profits, dividends, and other monies from financial speculation. Problems arose when she tried to make it retroactive for all of 2012 with the hope of reducing the government deficit. It was impossible to implement, as there was no way to trace all previous transactions. She had to start the tax from where it is possible to follow the money trail.

Marois stood up to federal Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and has established better international relations between Québec and other countries. The election of François Hollande in France has been good for Québec. The former President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, openly detested French-Canadians. Hollande is friendly to Québec, and when he and Marois met in Paris in October, they established important new cultural and educational links.

More important is that Marois’ election has removed one of the last barriers, the former Charest government itself, from the investigation by the Charbonneau Commission of the massive corruption in Québec—especially in government construction contracts.

Unfolding is a picture of vast corruption that has been going on for over 30 years. Often, mafia operatives were the actual intermediaries between parties in a system of collusion with kickbacks and a quasi-monopoly on construction contracts. From 30% to 40% of government construction projects were hugely overpriced and poorly done and will now soon have to be redone.

In recent days, Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay and Gilles Vaillancourt, Mayor of Laval, were forced to resign. Former Deputy Premier Nathalie Normandeau is deeply implicated in corruption and may face charges. So much is coming up that people are calling it the “bottomless pit.” In fact the entire Québec Liberal Party is tainted and it is even possible that ex-Premier Charest may be criminally liable.

Another scandal involves police brutality. A Montréal police officer, Stéfanie Trudeau, known as “Matricule/Badge 728,” stopped a group of young demonstrators, illegally took their cell phones, and then shouted obscenities at them.

Too bad for her, she accidently hit the auto-dial on one of the phones, and her tirade went into someone’s voicemail. The next day it was on the radio, then on TV, and then on the internet. Former Officer Trudeau is now pounding the pavement in an entirely new way.

Elsewhere in Canada, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, the youthful darling boy of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, resigned on Oct. 15 without a clear reason. “Something’s up,” as the expression goes, and it’s something to watch.

Canada is still a mess but we now have some wiggle room to figure out what to do next, and a truer picture of our society. The movement for a new human and collectivist society is now standing on higher ground, and we’ll get there some day.

—Ti-Ouistiti and D. Chêneville

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