Québec in 2012

Written by  //  November 9, 2012  //  Québec  //  No comments

Andrew Potter: Why majority rule on secession is impossible
(Ottawa Citizen via Canada.com) Small infants will grow old before an idea comes along that is more politically reckless than the NDP’s position that a bare majority Yes vote would be sufficient to trigger negotiations over Quebec’s secession from Canada. The party has held this position — known as the “Sherbrooke Declaration” — since 2005, and it was affirmed at its caucus retreat last week in St. John’s. While it has been criticized from many quarters, few Canadians actually grasp how profoundly misguided it is.
One difficulty is that the Sherbrooke Declaration is almost certainly inconsistent with the federal Clarity Act. Another, as many critics have noted, is that a single vote is a slender thing upon which to rest the fate of a country. But the most serious problem with the NDP’s position stems from one of the least-understood, but most fundamental difficulties with majority rule, known as the Condorcet paradox (after Nicolas de Condorcet, the French philosopher who discovered it).
Le blogue de Josh Freed
Bonjour, mon nom est Josh Freed. Je suis anglophone.
(l’Actualité) Bonjour, Mon nom est Josh et, je l’avoue, je suis anglophone.
En fait, je suis assez typique pour un anglo montréalais ; je suis Juif.
Comme la plupart des Juifs ici, je suis allé à une école protestante, parce que, à cette époque, les écoles catholiques nous voulaient pas vraiment de nous.
J’ai donc passé tous les matins de mon enfance à apprendre les chansons traditionnelles chrétiennes –que seul les Juifs de Montréal chantent, comme Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so et Onward Christian Soldiers.

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Another Quebec Mayor Resigns
(RCI) Gilles Vaillancourt, known as the King of Laval, stepped down as Mayor of Laval today. It is the second resignation this week.
Gilles Vaillancourt took a medical leave of absence on October 24th, the same day his safety deposit boxes were searched by investigators with Quebec’c anti-corruption squad, known by its French acronym UPAC. In his announcement today, Vaillancourt insisted on his innocence and said “I’ve only had one desire, to make Laval a success.” Vaillancourt was mayor for 23 years, in the last 10 years, his party was unopposed at City Hall.
28 October
Jean Charest se joindra à un cabinet d’avocats montréalais
(La Presse) Si le choix final de la firme n’est pas encore fait, sa décision de renouer avec sa profession d’avocat ne fait pas de doutes dans son entourage.
Durant les semaines qui ont suivi sa défaite électorale, le 4 septembre, M. Charest a reçu des offres fermes de cinq des principaux cabinets d’avocats de Montréal et au moins une d’un cabinet de Toronto.
9 October
Charbonneau Corruption Probe Scorches Quebec Liberals With Fresh Allegations
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) Quebec’s corruption inquiry has exploded onto the provincial stage with allegations of illegal political financing by the recently defeated Charest Liberals, the same party that reluctantly called the probe.
After having already alleged rampant kickbacks, Mafia ties and bid-rigging at the municipal level, a star witness has now made scathing accusations of influence-peddling under the ex-Liberal government.
20 September
Ex-spy watchdog reportedly under microscope as anti-corruption squad raids hospital office, probes SNC-Lavalin contract
(National Post) When Quebec’s anti-corruption police squad raided the McGill University Health Centre’s (MUHC’s) downtown Montreal headquarters on Tuesday, looking for evidence of alleged wrongdoing in a public-private partnership contract awarded to a consortium led by SNC Lavalin Group Inc., they might have peeked inside a large corner suite on the 14th floor.
The space was recently occupied by Arthur Porter, the MUHC’s director-general until business controversies and questions about his commitment to routine administrative duties exploded late last year. MUHC is one of Canada’s largest public health care providers with almost 12,000 employees. The SNC-Lavalin consortium is building the MUHC’s new $1.3-billion hospital in Montreal’s west side and will help operate the facility for decades, according to the terms of a deal it finalized in 2010, during Dr. Porter’s tenure.
17 September
Global News | Quebec court to feds: Hand over gun registry data

Quebec has won the latest stage in its legal battle against the federal government to keep long-gun registry data for the province.
Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard of the Quebec Superior Court sided with the province Monday and ordered the federal government to hand over the information.
It’s just one more step in the battle over what to do with the remnants of the now-defunct federal gun registry – a fight that could end up before the Supreme Court of Canada. Within moments of the decision, the federal government all but announced plans to appeal.
After a bit of hiatus during the election campaign, we are back with this wise commentary from Jeffrey Simpson
5 September
Marois declares PQ priorities as Charest resigns
Tuition hike and Bill 78 will be repealed, Quebec’s premier-designate announces
(CBC) Other priorities she outlined include passing legislation to exclude construction companies that have been convicted of offences from getting government contracts, and expanding the province’s subsidized daycare until there’s a spot for every child who needs one.
1 September
Jeffrey Simpson: Defending Quebec (or at least explaining it)
In defence of Quebeckers, who sometimes need defenders (or at least explainers), what’s so strange about wanting to turf a government led by a Premier seeking a fourth mandate? Didn’t Albertans eventually tire of Ralph Klein, who was deposed by his own party? Didn’t Canadians defeat Pierre Trudeau after his first three terms? Quebeckers want change, and in democratic politics, what’s so weird about that?
It’s true that the change they seek is hard to explain, and the promises of the Parti Québécois and CAQ are often not well considered – especially how to pay for them. But of which political culture could this not be said? If anyone was masochistic enough to read opposition platforms, they would find them stuffed with bromides and promises that are ditched or modified once they crash into reality. These promises in Quebec are no more or less unrefined than those in other political cultures. … As for the fiscal situation, Quebec’s deficit is much lower than Ontario’s, its unemployment rate is lower, and its budget will be balanced faster regardless of which party wins Tuesday. [emphasis added]
31 July
L’anglais comme langue de travail dans le Nord
(La Presse) L’entente sur le gouvernement régional de la Baie-James auquel participeront les Cris est vue comme un prérequis à la mise en oeuvre du Plan Nord, qui prévoit des investissements de 80 milliards en 25 ans. Or, ce gouvernement pourra utiliser à sa guise l’anglais comme langue de travail, prévoit le texte officiel de l’entente. Le développement économique se fera-t-il au détriment de la préséance du français?
22 July
Quebec students take to the streets with anti-Liberal message as election looms
(National Post) Thousands of students and their supporters took to the streets of Montreal on Sunday to denounce the province’s tuition increases, sending a message they will be ready for a fight if Premier Jean Charest decides to call an election. Read more
20 July
In the dangerous-bureaucracy-at-work-overtime category : Policy shift riles English advocates: Health insurance board switches from bilingual to ‘en français’ at service centre
(The Gazette) Quebecers will face a French comprehension test before being served in English at the provincial health insurance board, which recently switched its communication policy from bilingual to “en français” at its customer service centre.
New proposed Montreal ridings bad news for MP Marc Garneau, set off ‘domino effect’
(OpenFile) One of the biggest changes is to Garneau’s Westmount—Ville-Marie riding. Under the proposal, the Westmount section of the riding would be hacked off and lumped into the new Wilder-Penfield riding, while the downtown portion would be added to a new urban riding called Ville-Marie, which stretches from the Gay Village to St-Henri, below de Maisonneuve Boulevard.
Dan Delmar’s Tout le Québec en parle: On the CAQ, fake followers and dating strikers
18 July
In the stupid-bureaucracy-at-work-overtime category: Drummondville couple fights to keep vegetable garden
New bylaw will ban front lawn vegetable gardens The garden looks wonderful, certainly more interesting than the usual suspect impatiens, and is obviously well tended. We hope the city fathers will come to their senses (with a little help from an outraged public)
17 July
Quebec’s federal election map could undergo huge changes
Proposal calls for new names, boundaries, ridings

While some Montrealers might be chuffed at the thought of living in an electoral riding named after Maurice (the Rocket) Richard, others are significantly less impressed with proposed changes to Quebec’s federal electoral map announced this week that would see most of the province’s 75 ridings renamed or physically altered, and three new ridings created.
Among the electoral districts slated for significant changes were Mount Royal, Westmount-Ville Marie and Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine.
Irwin Cotler, Liberal MP for the riding of Mount Royal, vowed Tuesday to fight changes that would see his riding, once also the purview of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, lose its name and a significant portion of the Cote des Neiges neighbourhood at the heart of the current Mount Royal federal riding. In its new configuration, it would extend west to incorporate parts of Dorval and Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, and be named John-Peters-Humphrey, after the Montreal-born principal writer of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
16 July
Pas d’élections pour Michelle Courchesne et Monique Gagnon-Tremblay
Deux têtes d’affiche du gouvernement Charest ont confirmé au Parti libéral qu’elles ne seraient pas de la prochaine élection, confirmant du même coup les rumeurs qui couraient sur la colline parlementaire.
3 July
Dan Delmar: An outdated view of Quebec for the shallow observer
(National Post) Sovereignty is not a pressing issue for most Quebecers at the moment. That may seem counter-intuitive, but I assure you, unity debates in this province are restricted almost exclusively to the fringes and between perpetually outraged pundits, desperate for attention.
Canada Day was, for Sun News columnist John Robson, the perfect occasion to pick a fight with Quebec. He went on an incoherent tirade, citing various grievances and outdated stereotypes, making the argument, essentially, that Quebec should leave because it doesn’t love Canada enough.
It was an offensive piece on many levels. The timing was certainly odd. Over the weekend, most Canadians were enjoying the extra time off and celebrating this wonderful country in a wholesome, apolitical manner. If there was one weekend a year when the appetite for unity debates would be at its very lowest, it would have been Canada Day weekend.
25 June
Le Québec fait fuir les investissements pétroliers
L’économiste Gerry Angevine, coauteur de l’enquête qui en est à sa sixième présentation, croit que le problème du Québec tient à sa réglementation environnementale coûteuse et incohérente, et à l’incertitude fiscale. «La province ne pourra devenir un important producteur de gaz de schiste que lorsqu’elle aura réglé ce problème», a-t-il indiqué.
22 June
Paul Wells: Stephen Harper wonders how bad his luck can get in Quebec
… if [Pauline Marois] wins an election and then gets bold or reckless, Harper won’t have much of a political hand. He will have the Clarity Act, the Constitution and customary international law, all of which break decidedly in favour of a united Canada. But those are all handy guides for steering through a hell of a political mess. Once you need them, you’re already in the mess. No wonder Harper is renewing strategic acquaintances.
21 June
Harper seeks to boost sagging image in Quebec
As the House of Commons rises for the summer, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is heading to Quebec, where members of his Conservative party’s rank and file have been urging him to restore his image to boost the government’s sagging popularity and counter a potential threat to national unity.
Party supporters say Quebecers generally agree with the Conservative government’s economic policies, but the problem comes from personal attacks and criticism directed at Harper that rarely draw a response from the government.
“People hate the guy,” said Peter White, a veteran Conservative organizer from Quebec’s Eastern Townships region. “They really hate him. They think he’s got horns and a tail and eats babies, and I’m sure Harper has no idea that this is the case.”
Quebec corruption inquiry rises for summer. Will it be back before an election?
Quebec’s corruption inquiry is taking a break for the summer — and it might not be back until after the next provincial election.
19 June
Duchesneau says ‘dirty money’ finances Quebec politics
Charbonneau inquiry hears testimony on kickback money and political parties
18 June
Quebec inquiry hears government engineers can’t handle monitoring of collusion
(CTV) A severe shortage of competent engineers at Quebec’s Transport Department left it ill-equipped to detect and prevent corruption, a public inquiry heard Monday.
Jacques Duchesneau said engineers who work for the province are often young, inexperienced and lack the proper educational background.
To make matters worse, he said, they often find themselves dealing with former superiors who’ve jumped to the private sector. Senior employees would jump straight to higher-paying jobs at firms that were bidding on government contracts, he said.
17 June
Blame Canada: U.N. rights chief “alarmed” over Canadian law, but silent on China, Iran & Saudi Arabia
(Published by UN Watch) Canada will be put in the company of some of the world’s worst abusers of human rights tomorrow when the UN’s highest human rights official expresses “alarm” over Quebec’s new law on demonstrations during her opening address to a meeting of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, revealed the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, which obtained an advance copy of her speech.  Other states on the UN watchlist include Syria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
13 June
Transport Quebec answers don’t impress at Charbonneau Commission
(CTV) [Justice France] Charbonneau was puzzled by Marcel Charpentier’s contracting practices. A contract director at the MTQ, Charpentier revealed that a contractor in charge of a work site up until this winter would sometimes be the same company responsible for supervising their own project.
The man was unable to provide a proper definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest in the construction industry.
11 June
In sign of voter discontent, Quebec Liberal Party loses long-time stronghold
(RCI) But the Liberal Party retained the Montreal riding of Lafontaine, where the Liberal Party president, Marc Tanguay, was parachuted in at the last minute after the sitting Liberal Party member of the National Assembly, Tony Tomassi, was fired in disgrace from the Quebec cabinet.
Les libéraux perdent le château fort d’Argenteuil mais conservent LaFontaine
(La Presse) Après 46 ans de règne, les libéraux ont perdu hier soir le château fort d’Argenteuil. La circonscription au nord de Montréal est passée au PQ au terme d’une lutte extrêmement serrée.
Les libéraux comptent maintenant une fragile majorité de 63 députés. Ils ont conservé la circonscription de LaFontaine, où leur candidat Marc Tanguay a succédé à Tony Tomassi. Mais il y enregistre néanmoins un recul significatif. Son avance est plus faible que celle des trois dernières élections.
25 May
Quebec students challenge Bill 78 in court
Lawyers for student federations and other groups appeared in a Montreal courtroom on Friday to file legal motions against Bill 78, the government law aimed at cracking down on student protests.
Bill 78 lays out strict regulations governing demonstrations of more than 50 people, including having to give eight hours’ notice for details such as the protest route, the duration and the time at which they are being held.
The student groups, labour federations and a wide range of other organizations claim the law is unconstitutional and a violation of basic rights.
24 May
How Are The Quebec Protests Being Reported Around The World?
As the Quebec tuition protests continue, media outlets around the world are taking notice. Reporting on the situation has ranged from the even-handed look at the situation of Al-Jazeera’s article to a New York Times op-ed calling Quebec “a province that rides roughshod over its citizens’ fundamental freedoms”.
5 April
Québec élargit son programme de prêts pour études supérieures
Le gouvernement Charest a annoncé jeudi une bonification de 21 millions de dollars du programme de prêts et bourses dans l’espoir de convaincre les étudiants en grève de reprendre les classes. Il refile la facture aux universités.
20 March
Quebec’s debt will increase by $28M a day in 2012, according to the Montreal Economic Institute’s Debt Clock
(MEI) Quebec’s public sector debt has now reached $248 billion dollars. Following the tabling of the budget, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) updated its Quebec Debt Clock in real time. For the 2012-2013 year, the clock will advance by $10.2 billion, the equivalent of $28 million a day or $19,331 a minute.
“Zero deficit” does not mean “zero indebtedness”
“This past year, the deficit was $3.3 billion, and yet the debt increased by $13.7 billion. The thing is that even if the government announced a zero deficit, as it did from 1998-1999 to 2008-2009 after the adoption of the Balanced Budget Act, Quebec would still be nowhere near zero indebtedness,” explains Youri Chassin, author of the Viewpoint on the debt of the Quebec government published today by the MEI.
Quebec budget curbs spending, explores mining
(CBC) … The budget also provides a blueprint for natural resource development via a new, state-owned investment arm, Ressources Quebec. In a Quebec first, it will stake out equity shares in natural resource extraction to generate future revenues.
That, along with increases in mining royalties, will allow Quebec to afford its public programs, and maintain its quality of life that “is the envy of most peoples in the world,” Bachand said. See Quebec Budget Analysis; also this analysis of the hike in tuition fees from Higher Education Strategy Associates.
16 March
Quebec’s fight on the right hits Montreal Economic Institute
(Financial Post) When a band of hooded activists stormed the headquarters of the Montreal Economic Institute this week, the ideological debate raging in Quebec for years suddenly got a whole lot more personal for the think tank’s founder – Michel Kelly-Gagnon. …
Thirteen years after its founding in 1999, the Montreal Economic Institute remains ready to seize its moment in the sun, when true fiscal conservatism takes hold in Quebec and a serious effort at state downsizing begins. That time may come, Mr. Kelly-Gagnon says, because there will be a day of reckoning for the province’s finances. Quebec’s current public sector debt now tops $245-billion, $60,000 for each taxpayer.
Until then, it will do what it has always done. Play the role of gadfly. Ask questions that many Quebecers would rather not ask. And hope its front doors hold.
20 February
Quebec doctors cashing in on long wait lists: minister
Yves Bolduc is accusing some specialists of keeping wait lists artificially long for financial gain
9 February
Former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings not running for new Quebec provincial party
(Global Montreal) … because provincial politics do not ”inspire” her.
7 February
André Pratte: Les guerres de Quebecor
Les médias de Quebecor sont en guerre. Depuis plusieurs mois, ils s’acharnent, en particulier, contre deux cibles: la famille Desmarais (propriétaire de La Presse) et Radio-Canada. Au sujet de cette dernière, on accumule les reportages tendant à démontrer qu’elle dilapide les fonds publics. On l’accuse aussi de ne pas annoncer dans les publications de Quebecor, comme s’il s’agissait d’un crime.
31 January
Céline Cooper: Can François Legault’s CAQ steer clear of immobilisme?
(Montreal Gazette – story no longer available) Over the last few years, Quebec voters seem to have been lurching from one party to another in search of dynamic, transparent and forward-thinking political leadership. We have borne witness to this at the provincial level – with the rise and fall of Action démocratique du Québec, and the splintering of the Parti Québécois into micro-political confetti – and at the federal level with the decimation of the Bloc Québécois under the orange crush of the late Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party.
This political chaos is an expression of the mounting frustration of Quebecers over the troubling state of our schools, our economy, our infrastructure, widespread corruption, our health-care system and the ways in which these and other issues are repeatedly overshadowed by the “national question” – sovereignty and constitutional bickering.
22 January
Gilles Duceppe insists he’s finished with politics
(CBC) Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe has announced he won’t be returning to politics nor joining the Parti Québécois ranks, as rumoured.
In a short statement issued Sunday, Duceppe said he is staying out of active politics to “defend his integrity and rebuild his reputation” after a Montreal newspaper reported he used public funds to pay Bloc employees.
La Presse reported that Duceppe paid the Bloc’s general manager with public funds earmarked to run his office in Ottawa.
Meantime:
ADQ votes for CAQ merger
Quebec’s most popular political party has officially joined forces with another, smaller party – the Action démocratique du Québec.
Members of the ADQ voted to approve the merger with the new Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), which promises to set aside the debate on sovereignty.
19 January
Martin Patriquin: Harper’s French disconnection
High-profile Quebec Tories blast the PM for ignoring the province
(Maclean’s) Peter White is about as conservative (and Conservative) as they come. He worked at Brian Mulroney’s side throughout the former prime minister’s nine-year tenure. … In a scathing open letter addressed to Canadians in general and the Conservative party in particular, White roundly criticizes the Conservative Party of Canada for ignoring francophones in general and Quebec in particular. [Update: CBC Daybreak Interview with Peter White — Staunch conservative and former adviser to Brian Mulroney on Stephen Harper’s Quebec failure]
5 January
Former Liberal MP considering CAQ run
Marlene Jennings ‘seriously considering’ running for new provincial party

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