Tuesday, 21 October 2014
The political landscape in Quebec has been extremely volatile for the last forty-odd years as both English-speaking and French-speaking people try to be heard and accepted. The French claim oppression by the English since the Conquest of 1759, while the English claim marginalization by the Quebec separatist movement since 1968. Meanwhile the province's economy and culture has become lost in the bickering.
The Expo 1967 Worlds Fair in Montreal showed the world what we were capable of: a world-class visionary city with a robust economy. Quebec has large amounts of hydroelectric and natural gas resources at its disposal. There's no reason it can't be a strong province within Canada.
Unfortunately the rise of the separatist movement and its divisive politics, economic uncertainty, and pervasive governmental and industrial corruption has caused many corporations to move their offices from Montreal to Toronto, and driven hundreds of thousands of people to leave.
Now Quebec is suffering. Despite receiving billions of dollars in equalization payments from the Canadian government, it's still floundering in debt and disarray. It's the highest-taxed jurisdiction in Canada. The once-proud city of Montreal is falling apart at the seams. English-speaking residents are harassed, denied services, and turned down from jobs if they don't speak French. Maclean's Magazine has described Quebec as "the most corrupt province" and is "closed for business".
I'm hoping that it won't take another forty-odd years to bring Quebec up to the level at which it should have been.