Despite their questionable legality, there will be elections in the Canadian province of Quebec on April 7. During the electoral campaign, I shall address some of the issues discussed by the parties and show that Quebec is ruled by a “gouvernemaman” (nanny state), to use pamphleteer Joanne Marcotte’s expression. Today: a look at the parties’ slogans.
The Parti Quebecois (PQ), which formed a minority government in the last election, has chosen a new campaign slogan: “Plus prospère, plus fort, plus indépendant, plus accueillant” (more prosperous, stronger, more independent, more welcoming). This may cause one to wonder if PQ officials are aware that since gaining office in 2012, they have achieved the exact opposite of what their slogan claims.
First, Quebec has had the slowest growth in weekly wages in the country and is about to overtake Prince Edward Island, the smallest and poorest province in Canada, with respect to lowest net per-capita income. Second, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau has failed miserably in attempts to balance the budget, which now has a $2.5 billion deficit. This has caused Fitch to downgrade its outlook for the province and its credit rating. Third, despite being a separatist party, the PQ has repeatedly complained that it does not receive enough equalization payments – transfers from more wealthy provinces to poorer ones. Finally, the infamous Charte des valeurs quebecoises (also dubbed Charte de la laicite, or Charter of Secularity) has done nothing but stir up xenophobic feelings against religious minorities.
In other words, a look at the facts shows that the PQ has made Quebec less prosperous, weaker, more dependent, and less welcoming.
Unfortunately, the situation would not be any better with Quebec Solidaire (QS) in power, the only openly socialist party in the province. Their slogan, “Je vote avec ma tete” (I vote with my head), combined with the expressive image of redistribution, is completely laughable. Indeed, one uses the heart rather than the brain to vote QS, since being against “the rich” requires very little thought process. The pie image in their slogan, which supposes that the economy is fixed, is of course completely false. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates have indeed much, much higher revenue slices than the average worker, but they use it to bake other pies. Everyone has reaped the fruit of Gate’s innovations in the computer software industry.
One thing QS deserves credit for is in the way they openly display their ignorance of basic economics. Unlike the PQ, they don’t claim Quebec will be more prosperous; some QS members even call for degrowth.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec (the Coalition for Quebec’s Future, CAQ) doesn’t even bother to think about voters with its slogan, “On se donne Legault” (Legault is the talk of town). Political parties are supposed to be about voters, not the head of the party, as with Francois Legault and the CAQ. This self-centered slogan shows just how short the party is on ideas.
This is quite unlike the Parti Liberal du Quebec (PLQ), which proposes to “Parler des vraies affaires” (talk about real stuff). The slogan is a direct jab at the PQ, whose main focus for the election is its Charter of Secularity. In this way, the party doesn’t have to address the weakness of many key economic indicators.
The question remains: what “real stuff” will the party be talking about exactly? Back when the party came to power in 2003, it wanted to re-engineer the state, but powerful unions who effectively rule the province quickly put a stop to that. As a result, former Premier Jean Charest kept the nanny state growing. Will the new PLQ leader, Philippe Couillard, dare to confront voters with reality? Will he remind the public that the province is about to hit the wall, and the longer we wait to make drastic, but necessary, cuts to public spending the worse it will get? Since actions speak louder than words, only time will tell.
As you can see, the parties were quite uninspired for this electoral campaign. They either lied (PQ), showed their Machiavelian colors (QS), centered the campaign around the chief (CAQ), or made hollow promises to “talk about real stuff” (PLQ). It is therefore unlikely that candidates in these elections will propose any reform to the so-called Quebec model of “nothing can happen without the state.”