There are a few things that will more than definitely hurt the Quebec Economy: higher taxes, greater government intervention and further implementation of language laws. This is an inconvenient reality to separatists and socialists alike who want to burden Quebec with all three actions. Quebec is the example of what not to do: take on responsibilities that it can’t fiscally handle, stretch tax rates to the limit and try to control every aspect of Quebecer’s lives. No party is innocent, but their impacts are scalable.
The Worst: The Parti Quebecois
There is no party in Quebec that will have a worse impact on the Quebec economy than the Parti Quebecois. With a fairytale dream of a separate Quebec where Quebecers are French and the English are outcasts, it will be fascinating to watch American and European trade partners turn their backs. If the Parti Quebecois expect to have a French nation where other countries offer trade deals in French, they have another thing coming. As businesses will leave and the job market will collapse, Quebec will be overburdened with a debt-to-GDP ratio that is similar to that of Greece and added costs and bureaucracy that it simply cannot support.
Tampering with the market doesn’t make things better as economists by enlarge recommend an economic approach where the government’s interference is minimal and its tax rates are competitive and this is something Quebec already lacks and will lack even more with a PQ government. Give them a tax the rich mandate and they will scare off the few remaining wealthy souls that are already contemplating leaving due to language laws and they will bury the poor with reckless economic decisions that are fiscally irresponsible and overwhelmingly inefficient. In short, the rich will leave, businesses will shut down and investors will slam the door on Quebec. Trade partners will ridicule, the Quebec economy will collapse and the poor will be buried in the ruble of their dream. You know this is true when home buyers ask for a conditional clause in the deed to allow them a refund if the PQ come to power – which polls suggest is a strong possibility.
The Unrealistic: The Quebec Solidaire
Next in line is the Quebec Solidaire who also dream of an independent Quebec. While not as extreme on language laws as the PQ, the party also wants to expand the scope of law 101 and tax the few remaining rich which will not fair it well. The aspect of their plan that is the most frightening is the idea of nationalizing and publicizing private services and adding a much larger burden on an already overloaded government. The model society in which the Quebec Solidaire preach sounds good to the average Quebecer as they tout a minimum salary for all and free tuition and a shift of tax policy to allow the poorest in society a chance to get wealthier. However, their socialist dream would widely be created out of thin air and their approach to job growth is unclear. A Quebec nation that can barely support what it has now cannot support a country – let alone one where the Government is the main force in everyone’s lives. While the Quebec Solidaire come up with lucrative and idealist policies, some of which would save Quebec money, their overall blueprint would bankrupt this province in ways that haven’t yet be seen.
The Uncertain: Coalition Avenir du Quebec
The Coalition Avenir du Quebec is an up-start center right party and their economic policy is lacking as well. With a pledge to become more interventionist in our markets and a pledge to expand French language laws, they will also kill off job creation aspects. The only thing they have going for them is their pledge to make a cleanup in bureaucracy – one that Charest’s Liberals promised a long time ago and never followed up on. While this plan and idea would be ideal, an autonomist view of Quebec and a fighting spirit to gain more control and services from Ottawa would not put Quebec in a good economic position. Instead, it would create more bureaucracy than it would destroy. Legault may now claim to be a federalist but he has distinctly said in the past that he only wants to take sovereignty off the table and with his past as a staunch separatist, it is no surprise that many are skeptical of his newly found love for Canada.
The Least Damaging: The Liberal Party of Quebec
Last but not least is Jean Charest, the man who has angered a lot of people over the last 9 years – angered enough that even if he is better for the economy, it simply wouldn’t matter. His economic record isn’t the best and while he touts a future surplus that will come from a slew of tax hikes, he promises to create 250,000 jobs and claims that in his past mandate he created 400,000.
Charest, however, has not looked deeply at the concept of efficiency. Instead of starting the process of integration within Canada and its existing services and bureaucracies which would easily save Quebec billions of dollars, Charest has went the tax and spend route raising taxes across the board, creating a flat tax on healthcare, forcing new drivers to get $1000 lessons, and allowing the massive increase in Hydro power bill rates.
In short, taxes in Quebec are the highest in North America and Quebecers aren’t getting the value of their dollar. High taxes prohibit spending and scare away doctors and important people which we need to offset future issues that will only cost us more in the future to fix. Rather than increasing spending and taxes by 2% last year, Charest should have started cutting bureaucracy and streamlining agencies with Ottawa. It’s every separatist’s nightmare but in the end of the day, we need an economy that can support the services we all believe in and an independent Quebec won’t do that – no matter how nice it sounds on paper.
Conclusions: The least worst in terms of the economy
While all the main parties in this election have scary economic prospects and there is reason to have skeptical views of all, it is clear that Jean Charest, whether you love him or hate him, would have the least destructive impact on the Quebec economy. His decision to be less interventionist than most and his plan to develop resources in the North and trade with Europe are all pluses. Unlike his rivals, he doesn’t expect to be served in French as he can speak fluent English, which is the language that money speaks. While he should be streamlining and cutting bureaucracy and while he should be lowering taxes and isn’t, in comparison to his rivals this is the only thing he has going for him, a not so bad economic outlook.
He may have decided to unjustifiably attack students, Medicare beneficiaries, people who need electricity and people who need to buy food and supplies, he certainly won’t hurt us as bad as the others, even if the wolves are nicely dressed in sheep’s clothing.
However, if you cannot vote Liberal at all, and there are many who want to send a clear message to Charest (and I don’t blame them), the only real option is the CAQ, which isn’t good for the economy but certainly isn’t as bad as the hardcore separatists and socialists.
Regardless who you choose to run the economy, the Quebec economy will always rely on at least $7 billion in equalization payments from Ottawa and as it stands it will always have an overbearing nature that will cause it to obstruct people’s lives and economic growth. No current party is equipped to clean up the mess but it is clear that the dreamers have sunk us big time. It is time to become realistic, put our priorities in their right places and look at keeping future prospects for any kind of Quebec alive and that means putting the economy first. To the rest of the world looking for a model: Quebec is the example of what not to do.