Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Throw Them Out

I suppose there is a reason this story was reported in the Sun ... but it is silly:

Quebec, Canada divide deepens | Canada | News | Toronto Sun:

It is silly because there is no story here. Quebec and Canada have been at peace since the last referendum. Canadians might find PQists upsetting but the discourse that Quebec somehow gets special treatments missing some really important things. It misses, for instance, the fact that most premiers ask for special treatment of their province (whether it be EI in NB, or equalization payments in NF, or environmental standards in Alberta). This is what premiers do: they try to get the best deal for their province that they can get. I strongly suspect this is one reason they were elected in the first place.

What is more, it missing the big point that Canada is a big nation and a one-size fits all policy does not work well for all regions of the country. I've used this example before but keeping interest rates high to help areas of full employment (so as to manage inflation) might end up hurting areas of high employment that need low interest rates to stimulate employment (the reason for this is that a high employment prevents inflation on its own by reducing demand). A daycare policy designed to deal with Toronto, will not work well in rural Newfoundland, etc.

To focus only on Quebec in this discussion disguises what is an important element of public policy that Canadians should be discussing. It leads to the false belief that all provinces are treated the same anyway (which they are not) and perpetuates the idea that Quebecers are a bunch of complainers.

Here we have a poll with good news. The overwhelming majority of Quebecers don't want another referendum. In other words, federalism and Canada, are safe. And, yet, this report finds a grey lining in a silver cloud and the whole poll so simplifies public policy issues that it can do nothing but perpetuate prejudices. Canada needs something other than recycled prejudices for its policy agenda.


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