Why Québec’s Protest Movement Will Spread Across Canada

For the majority of Canadians and Québecois who don’t support the protesters in Québec, the morality of the situation is obvious: the province, like the rest of the country, is strapped for money right now and simply can’t afford to keep subsidizing tuition at the current rate. Our health care system is falling apart, the retirement age is rising, social programs and benefits are being cut left and right, and our cash starved universities need to increasingly rely on harassing alumni and begging rich people in order to barely keep up with the latest equipment and to maintain their facilities.

And while everyone else is sharing the pain, the self-centered, entitled students of Québec, who have been enjoying the lowest tuition in all of North America (frozen since 1995), simply refuse to pitch in and pay their fair share in the form of a $1625 a year increase that would still leave them with the second cheapest tuition on the continent after Newfoundland.

“Life is a grind,” as my young, anti-protester friend said to me on the street recently. Rising fees and deteriorating services are a law of nature. “You can’t just expect to get things for free!”

This begs an important question:

Why not?

Why is it that in a country whose wealth has more than doubled since the Medical Care Act first established universal public health care in 1966, we no longer seem to be able to afford the social programs (including low tuition) that worked so well into the mid 1990’s?

Doubled in wealth? Watchoutalkinboutwillis?

Seeing that most of us work more hours and have more debt than we did in the 60′s, 70′s or 80’s, we might not feel wealthier, but according to standard economic measures, Canada’s wealth, relative to population has indeed doubled since then.

The wealth of a society is most often measured in terms of GDP per capita. As defined by the OECD website, “GDP per capita measures economic activity or income per person and is one of the core indicators of economic performance as well as a rough measure of average living standards or economic well-being.”

As you can see from Statistics Canada’s inflation adjusted graph below, our GDP per capita is about 260% what it was in 1960 and 160% of what it was in 1980.

Similarly, the value of the stock market has also about doubled since 1980. According to this Financial Post survey of Canadian “Stocks through the ages,” the TSX was at about 2000 in 1980, whereas now, even with the recent downturn, it’s almost at 12,000 (down from almost 15,000 before the downturn) . Adjusted for inflation, that’s double what it was.

In the same period, labour productivity, which means the amount of wealth workers create per hour (typically measured in real GDP per hour worked) has also been rising continually, up about 70% since 1980 (adjusted for inflation).

Tuition increases? Crumbling health care system? Where’s my public dental care program? Where’s my 20 hour workweek? Where’s my publicly funded purple Cadillac with solid gold fenders? Why aren’t we providing students with a place to live, free daycare and regular meals like they do in Norway (at the onerous cost of $70 per semester) so that students can actually pay attention to their studies instead of wasting 20 hours a week at part-time jobs, the way 40% of Québec students now do, to the detriment of their grades (and to the detriment of their competence as our future professionals)?

Why is it that more than twice as many university students now work while studying, than did in the late 70’s, when our GDP per capita was half of what it is now? Why do they have to work twice as many hours as they did back then? Half of them live on less than $12,200 a year, and half of those on less than $7,400. These are the “overwhelmingly middle to upper-middle class” Québec students, few who of whom “will ever have to stint on mochaccinos, or work with their hands,” as one overpaid and under-informed bag of transcribed gas recently described them.

Again, WTF? Why is this happening?

Is it because an aging population and the rapidly rising costs of health care technology have put a strain on costs and revenues in ways that weren’t envisioned when our social programs were created? That’s certainly a factor, yet other countries with much more generous welfare states have been adapting with their services, free tuition, and robust economies intact.

So what’s our problem?

Our problem is that for the last 20+ years, instead of adapting our welfare state to the globalized economy and to our changing demographic realities, successive federal and provincial governments have chosen to engage in a reckless orgy of corporate tax cuts, effectively condemning our social programs to a slow death by starvation. Our personal income taxes and sales taxes simply can’t fill the gaping hole in the budget. As a result, we can no longer afford to even maintain, nevermind improve healthcare, education or any of the other programs which make Canada such a nice place to live.

Worse, when we run budget surpluses, instead of using the money to repair our deteriorating health care system, or to re-fund our universities, Liberal and Conservative governments alike, use the surpluses as an excuse for more tax cuts, insuring that our programs will get worse and worse; slowly enough so that we don’t take to the streets, but surely enough that we will be resigned to accept that the only solution is more privatization and tuition increases.

In 1960 the federal corporate tax rate was 41% (see p11 of source document). In 2000 it was 28% (p14). Successive liberal and conservative governments have steadily hacked it down to the 2012 Harper budget low of 15%. In the early 1960′s, corporate income taxes made up 20% of federal tax revenues; by 2008‐2009, their share had fallen to 12.6% (p14). As mentioned above it continues to fall with every budget.

A CCPA study of the biggest Canadian publicly traded corporations found that while they made 50% more profits in 2009 than they did in 2000, they paid out 20% less in taxes to the federal and provincial governments than they had in 2000. To be clear we’re talking net amount paid, not percentage of income; so if you’re the Burpsi Cola Corporation and you made $1000 of profit in 2000 and you paid $100 in taxes, by 2009 you were making $1500 and paying only $80 in taxes. On the whole, corporations now pay out $18 billion less now in taxes than they did in 2000 even though profits are way up as discussed earlier.

As Journal de Montréal writer Léo-Paul Lauzon noted in his May 22nd blog, in 1963 corporations paid 55% of all taxes in Canada compared to 18% in 2011.  Similarly, corporations paid 38% of taxes in Québec in 1963, down to a shameful 11% last year.

Corporate vs Individual Share of Taxes in Canada and Québec in 1963 vs 2011

Not surprisingly, while corporate tax revenues keep spinning clockwise down our toilets along with the money we use to pay for social programs, average tuition in Canada keeps rising to compensate:

Statistics Canada: Average tuition fees for full-time undergraduate university students

Source: statscan and CAUBO via rabble.ca

Note that it’s not a fact of life that everything magically gets worse and worse with time. Tuition was actually going down (first tuition chart, top curve, which is inflation adjusted), back in the 70′s and 80’s, when Canadians actually expected something from life besides a downward grind.

This is what we’ve come to: whereas free tuition in Ontario, the highest tuition province in the country, would only cost each Ontarian $170 a year, each Ontarian is instead going to give away $500 a year to corporations in the form of new tax cuts – tax cuts which cost ten times more in lost revenue than what they generate in business investment.

In addition, while falling corporate taxes have been shifting the tax burden onto our personal income taxes, various changes in our tax system (such as heavier reliance on sales taxes) have further shifted the burden of paying for civilization away from the highest income earners, and onto poor and middle-income schlubs who need to borrow more money and work more hours while going to school and have more nervous breakdown so that we can work harder for longer hours and earn more profits for our entitled, whiny, corporate aristocracy.

As you hopefully already know, wealthy countries normally have what is called progressive taxation, which means that the more money you earn, the higher percentage of your income you pay in taxes. That’s how our own income tax system is set up. However, once you factor in all the other taxes like sales tax, property taxes, payroll taxes, inheritance taxes, etc, taxation starts to drop at the top 5% level. Between 1990 and 2005, the tax rates for the top 1% of income earners dropped four percentage points, while tax rates for the bottom 10% increased by more than five percentage points. By now total rates of taxes paid are 30.7% at the bottom of the income spectrum to 36.5% in the middle and back down to 30.5% for the top 1% of families. (p11). In other words, the top 1% have an overall lower tax rate than the poorest Canadians.

This is one of the reasons why most of you don’t feel twice as wealthy as you did in the 1980′s – our country as a whole is, but you’re not – most of the gains have been swallowed up by our wealthiest citizens. The other reason is the exploding cost of living in a Canadian city.

Naturally, the worse services get, the more people resent paying taxes for garbage dysfunctional social programs, particularly the wealthiest people who pay most of the taxes, and who can afford to buy functional private services. Corporations and their media bullhorns egg on this tax resentment because it spills over into more public tolerance for corporate tax cuts. Thus, our personal income taxes have also eroded over time so that we now pay $38 billion less in income taxes than we did in 2000, when our population was smaller.

Make no mistake, these were not inevitable changes, forced upon our governments by the realities of “globalization”. As Linda McQuaig documented in The Cult of Impotence: the Myth of Powerlessness in the Global Economy, in the mid 1990′s, under intense high school style peer pressure from the cool kids in the financial sector and the corporate bullhorn media, our hopelessly spineless and out of touch government deliberately decided to restructure our country and slowly destroy our social programs under the guise of saving us from a wildly exaggerated debt crisis. Even a study by Goldman-Sachs commissioned at the time by the federal government (and then quickly hidden from the public and the press) had concluded that Canada did not have a serious debt problem, did not need to cut social services, and could have easily eliminated its deficit by reducing unemployment instead (see McQuaig p97).

The proof is in the pudding. I remember breathing a huge sigh of relief in 1997, when the Liberals announced that the annual deficit was eliminated and the government was running surpluses. Finally, our health care and education systems would be restored to their former states. I then remember the complete shock and disbelief I felt when Paul Martin decided not to restore full funding to health care or education, but to waste the surpluses on … you guessed it: more tax cuts. Tax cuts which guaranteed that those services would never be properly funded again. I remember reading the newspapers and feeling like I was living in Orwell’s 1984; unanimous praise for the tax cuts and said nothing about the fact that the Chrétien government had initially told us that they were slashing our programs in order to save them once the deficit had been tackled.

And there you have it. That’s the hidden context of the Québec tuition struggle and of the continuing deterioration of Canada’s social programs.  The students’ struggle is indeed our struggle too.

Strange that I’ve heard scraggly Québecois students who make $8,000 a year and don’t yet have university degrees talk about some of these issues, but I haven’t read anything about it from all the well-educated and well paid columnists in the National Post, the Gazette, the Journal de Montreal, La Presse, MacLean’s or The Globe and Mail. Kudos to Le Devoir, the more intellectual Québec daily which has been bewailing Canada’s neoliberal (undemocratic, corporate and investor-led) turn since the very beginning.

So pay your fair share you lazy, selfish, entitled, self-serving, spoiled, entitled, rich, terrorist, Satan worshipping, entitled, parasitic Québecois students! Work 30 hours a week (as 18% of them already do) while going to school full-time instead of 20! Borrow more money so that your future corporate employers can make 50% more profit off of the skills you acquired from the education that they no longer want to contribute to! And why should they? They know that higher education is now a necessity and that you’ll get yourself into $24,000 of debt or more to get one because most of you have no other choice. Accept that life is a grind, and that it only gets worse over time, unless you’re upper-middle class, wealthy, or a corporation! Give up and roll over dead like the rest of us!

High five Rest-of-Canada for telling Québecers how foolish we are! Chest-bump to the corporate owned media and to your opinion columnists who are about as well-informed and curious about the world they live in as a drunk in a movie theater yelling at the screen right before throwing up. Extra special thanks to you for encouraging us to project our anger at our deteriorating standard of living onto those lazy French barbarians instead of onto the job creating, magnificent corporations that hire you to transcribe your thoughtless and hypocritical belches in printed form.

The good news in all of this is that according to a poll by Environics Research commissioned by the Broadbent institute, the public is firmly against all of this. According to the survey, 64% of Canadians, including a majority of wealthy Canadians, are willing to pay more in taxes to protect our social programs. Things have gotten so bad that even 58% of Conservative voters feel the same way. 73% want to return the federal corporate tax rate to its 2008 level of 20%, which was part of Jack Layton’s 2011 campaign platform. 83% want to increase taxes on the wealthiest.

Meanwhile a recent Ekos poll finds that 60% of Canadians would vote for a party that would raise taxes on the rich vs. one that pledged not to raise taxes at all. Given the strain on provincial budgets, the federal government is having trouble convincing the provinces to reduce their corporate tax rates any further than they already have to reach Stephen Harper’s goal of a 25% combined federal/provincial rate. Not surprisingly, the NDP is currently surging in the polls, and would form a minority government were an election held today.

In other words, a large majority of Canadians already support the cause of the Québec protesters. They just don’t realize it yet. The media has been preventing them from seeing the context, painting the students rather than corporate Canada as the whiny entitled babies who are burdening the rest of us by not paying thier fair share. The student unions have also remained too focused on tuition in Québec and the Loi 78, and have not done enough to link their struggle to the struggles of the rest of the country.

Fortunately, that’s already starting to change. As I’ve been noticing every night at 8pm, the nightly casserole protests that are happening in neighbourhoods (and even suburbs!) across the province are mostly made up of adults in their 30′s, 40′s and 50′s and their little kids (vs the massive student protests that start at parc Émilie-Gamelin every night). Meanwhile a little bit of context is starting to appear amidst the sea of rabid anti-civilization hysteria in the op-ed pages. Inspired by our assertiveness, and by the fact that 62% of students across the country say they would join a similar strike in their own provinces, student unions in Ontario are preparing to strike as well.

It’s time for us to get onto our facebooks and tweeters and emails and facetimes and skypes and let our friends and relatives who aren’t aware of the context of the tuition hikes know why all of this is happening, and why they should join in if they care about their health care and their retirement and their education. It’s time for CLASSE and FEUQ and FECQ to ramp up their demands and broaden their base of support by insisting on a small raise in the corporate tax rate; not only to help fund universities but also to hire more doctors to alleviate the severe GP shortage and hospital waiting times.  It’s time to re-open the debate about globalization and the welfare state which was aborted in Canada in the mid-90′s by our hysterical and hypocritical pundit and political classes

So get out your pots and pans Canada. Get to know your neighbours and start banging away with them to protest the unnecessary and non-consensual destruction of our welfare state. Protest rising tuition. Protest the shameful state of our healthcare system. Protest the $160 million in cuts that were just announced for Montreal hospitals. Protest the atrocious bill c-38 which among other things guts environmental protections, lowers corporate taxes and raises the retirement age to 67.

Realize that millions of other Canadians feel the way you do, and that as Québec’s government is about to demonstrate, governments do give in to popular pressure, even ones as out of touch as those of Charest and Harper.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to protest the garbage corporate mouthpiece media who’ve been encouraging you to vent your legitimate frustrations onto the people who are standing up for their rights so that you don’t join them in protecting your own

 

16 thoughts on “Why Québec’s Protest Movement Will Spread Across Canada

  1. Your data while based on facts are completely misleading. Canadian corporations already pay the third highest corporate tax rate out of all 3rd world nations, perhaps if students went to class instead of striking they would know this.

    The world is changing. Canada is now competing on a global economy with the likes of China, India, Brazil, Russia (to name a few). If you increase corporate taxes Canadian Companies will just move overseas (to places like China where people know better then to hold protests in the street).

    Since WWII, the top 1% of Canadians have been funding the country. Well with globalization this no longer needs to be the case. So if you want them to continue to pay for education and health care they’ll just leave to a country that appreciates their true value, which is to provide the 99% with jobs. Yes, it’s a crazy idea, get a job and pay your own way.

  2. Hey Pannybegs – what you’re saying makes sense, but it’s only true to a limited extent. Not every company can just flee the country because we raise taxes to 2009 levels. Why didn’t they flee in 2009, or 2000? Most of the companies that could flee were in the manufacturing sector and have already done so ages ago. Many are now even coming back because transportation costs have increased and labour costs abroad are increasing as people over there are protesting as well. There are reasons corporations stay in first world countries and why they aren’t all in the Seychelles or Panama where there is no corporate income tax.

    As I pointed out in the article, countries like Norway with very high personal taxes, and high corporate taxes are doing great, even as other countries are going through economic crises. http://www.inc.com/magazine/20110201/in-norway-start-ups-say-ja-to-socialism.html

    The same is true of wealthy people. There’s a reason they don’t all just flee to Andorra.

    And you’re wrong about China – China is constantly having labour riots.
    http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2011/06/tracking-chinese-riots-plus-sunspots.html
    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/13/world/la-fg-china-riot-20110614
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1997298,00.html
    http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2012/01/19/labour-unrest-in-china-no-letup-soon/#axzz1wO2GOlXS

    The reason we have all these social programs is because life was ugly before we did. Poor people organized and struck, and rich people realized that if they don’t pay taxes, things would start to get really violent. Taxes and social programs work better for everyone. Again, read the article on business in Norway.

    On the myth that we’re powerless to tax corporations adequately read Linda McQuaig’s book The Cult of Impotence: The Myth of Powerlessness in the Global Economy

    • Norway subsidizes their socialist agenda with oil. They export the third most oil in the world. Yes, Norway with less then 5 million people is behind only Saudi Arabia and Russia in Oil sales. So they can afford not to work.

      Companies have been fleeing since 2000 when communication costs have plummeted. So the executive who is critical to business operation (aka you 1%) can manage the non-essential workers anywhere in the world.

      You are correct as foreign countries become less competitive (i.e. those workers start wanting a bigger piece of the pie), Canada can keep some of those jobs here by creating intensives for those companies, such as, a lower tax rate.

      So if people want to take to streets and save Canada, the demands should be:

      1 – We need to drill for more oil (the only true subsidy for social programs)
      2 -Reduce Corporate taxes (the only way to keep jobs in the Country)
      3 – Privatize social programs (so the government can no longer erode them)
      4 (and most important) – Eliminate labor laws so that we can be more competitive then foreign countries, and every individual can work for their fair share of the pie.

      • Canada also has a lot of oil… and Denmark, Finland, Sweden and other countries don’t have oil, but have been maintaining their high tax, high social spending, robust economy systems successfully in the modern era with less extreme modifications.

        If you implement the 4 steps that you suggest the country will be like it was in the 1920s but worse because there are so many more people now, and city life is so much more expensive, and poor people no longer have rural relatives they can rely on in hard times.

        Manufacturers aren’t coming back to North America so much because of labour costs abroad, but because of transportation costs, and quality control issues, and skill sets etc.

        Go visit Sweden, it’s a lovely place. When I was there, their high schools had better equipment than our universities. They simply made different choices than we have.

        • I agree with Daniel. People can create societies full of people who can make better and more informed choices. Unfortunately, at the present time we elect individuals loyal to political parties that we want to believe reflect our beliefs and values. Once in power, that quickly washes away. The communications and research teams within political parties are so sophisticated they can play the populace like a violin. To some extent, this is something I do like and admire about the present student and societal debate, it’s unpredictability and wildness. But this also makes it frightening and perilous, the attacks on the metro system being a case in point. I don’t have any clear opinions on the student strike or any of the social cause add-ons now sustaining it. But I am happy it is happening since it raising the level of discussion and engagement. That being said, I don’t really know what banging pots and pans will actually do other than scare the be-jesus out cats, squirrels and wake-up sleeping babies (have one and see how much you appreciate the clanging). In fact, it seems counter-productive to the need to debate and discuss. Frankly, I find most opportunities to do so have been tightly clamped down once I ask a question that differs with the ideological commitment of the crowd I am facing. So, thanks very much Daniel!

          • Thank you Greg! I think the pots and pans is just people getting in touch with eachother and realizing that we’re not all alone like you would think from reading newspapers or watching the news on TV. It’s creating a badly missing sense of community. For sure people are close minded on all sides – that’s why I prefer the neighbourhood protests to the students ones (though I like those too – just came back from a neighbourhood protest that ended up merging with two other neighbourhood protests before joining a massive student march with at least 10,000 people!). The students are a bit self righteous sometime as we all tend to be at that age, but the neighbourhood people are pretty damned awesome through and through.

  3. I think we may all be wrong on some points at certain times and right only now and then. That self-indicting qualifier out of the way, neither of you say anything about energy production and the skyrocketing cost of oil. Our economic system, over 200 years old, is due primarily to fossil fuels, i.e. coal and petroleum. According the Post Carbon Institute we are entering peak oil production and the cost of oil production will just continue to climb. In some ways, this may be good for the environment but it will have disastrous consequences on the global economy. The silver lining is that as the global economy shrinks local economies will become relevant again and be more robust. What we are seeing in Spain, Italy and Greece may be the first signs of global shrinkage (kind of what happens to men when they jump into a cold pool). How this will pan out in Canada is hard to say. The western resource rich provinces might continue to be the economic and political powerhouses that call the shots for the next decades. Then again, maybe Quebec’s hydro-electric projects may begin to pay dividends and bolster the provincial coffers. But make no mistake, there’s nothing ‘green’ and good about hydro dams. On that note, it kind of explains the Plan du Nord and the political eagerness of Charest. My bottom line is this, it does not really matter who gets into political office in Quebec: tuition, healthcare expenditures and other public spending will remain tethered to energy production and how much it costs to produce and buy a barrel of oil or build another dam and ship a megawatt of power. Save the planet – when at home, wear a sweater and extra socks.

  4. One more point (something I assume I got into some trouble for saying to a Quebec nationalist friend): former Premier Jacque Parizeau in a recent interview said 50 years ago he was a 31 years old government lawyer during the Quiet Revolution. He likened today’s movement to that time. But what excited him most in the 1960s was when the Quebec government nationalized the electric companies aka Hydro Quebec. What happened soon after this development? La project du Siecle was announced in 1971. So, in effect, Hydro Quebec, along with federal transfer payments, have been largely financing the Quebec’s social democracy for the past 40 years. My point about energy production and public finances seems to have some historical basis. Maybe I am wrong or minimally right. Daring to question a Quebec nationalist about something so sacrosanct is a dangerous proposition. But any ideological force that comes to political fruition has a material cost. In this case, dead rivers, drowned lands and Indigenous graves under water.

  5. THANK YOU!!! It’s about time someone spoke intelligently about what’s really going on. The media has there own agenda and it’s obviously not the common folk. The root cause of the deterioration of our society is and has been the unfair tax system our government imposes on us. But let me ask you Mr Pannybegs, what do you think of a regressive tax structure. So the less money you make the higher your tax rate. This would encourage people to work more and earn more, as apposed to a current tax system which does the opposite. My understanding is that they have recently implemented this in Malaysia to great success.

    Again, thank you Mr Pennybegs for the keen insight. Please keep this site going, your voice needs to be heard among the left wing media.

    • Forgive me for not knowing whether your post is meant to be a joke or not, but I’ll just reply as if it’s serious.

      You’re making the assumption that people who work harder will earn more than people who don’t. I’ve been to many workplaces where the owners spend most of their time playing with their stocks, or looking at vacation websites, while the people in the offices are putting in real work days, and the stockrooms or shipping warehouses who get paid least of anyone are working the hardest and the most.

      The incentives of an upside down regressive system like that don’t even make sense unless everyone in society makes the same hourly wages for every job, and only makes more money by working more. You’d have to go to Stalin’s USSR for that.

      Finally, on taxes and social programs as work disincentives – here’s a paper on why that’s not true in Scandinavia despite high taxes and generous programs.

      http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFYQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fec.europa.eu%2Feconomy_finance%2Fpublications%2Fpublication13935_en.pdf&ei=-LjHT-b2AsvbggfTpLiDDg&usg=AFQjCNGXBRswCiJuh56vj9vy4vDi1gdMAQ

      OK, I just checked on Malaysia’s system and they have progressive taxes like anyone else… so your comments are meant to be funny (they are funny btw!)

      The GST is a regressive tax by the way, because poorer people pay more of it as a proportion of their income vs wealthier people. That’s why the poorest 10% of canadians now pay more taxes relative to their income vs the top 1%.

  6. True wealth and job creation does not come from the top income levels of any society, it comes from a vibrant, have-money-to-spend middle class and that is about it… Poor people can probably claw their way into the middle class and it also provides a place for the rich to fall to if their fortune fades. It is the great stabilizer.

    Large corporations are on a run around the world looking for the lowest price for wages and that usually comes with the most repressive regimes available . One can see that globalism all started because of wage demands back in the 1970s and it has not stopped yet.

    I for one really don’t want to compete with a Pakistani bricklayer for who can get the lowest wages… I want to live in a decent country.

    We, the people, need to take our country back…

  7. Mr Tauras, thank you for reading my blog and your kind words. I must agree with the other comments with regards to your regressive tax idea. Although morally sound, the government should not be used in any way to engineer the public. Our goal as a society should be zero taxes where the free market dictates our decisions, not a weighted tax system where a few liberal elites try to mold the world in their own image.

    As an example the other day I bought a new Porsche. It took me less then 30 minutes in the beautiful dealership, this is a good example of the free market giving people what they want. I then had to correct an issue on the car registration and spent 4 hours in the decrepit DMV, thus showing the incompetents of government.

    • Speaking of incompetence, I’m having trouble getting to the end of your first sentence because, oopsie, I seem to have bumped into the same reality-challenged ideology that brought us ‘global economic crash 2008′. You remember: your precious free markets brought the GLOBAL economy to the worst social crisis the planet has seen since before you were born and only now survive by dint of TRILLIONS of public money pumped in by a political class that was captured decades ago by the socio-economic elite. You know: that band of sociopathic parasites you are so keen to emulate. Good on ya, mate!

      Zero taxes? What is this, Byzantium?

      You bought a new Porsche? Funny coz I just fucked someone whose watch cost more than that. I kid you not. Cartier, solid gold and covered in diamonds. Limited edition. Your pissant little sportscar might pay for the strap. And you both have the same disease. You actually give more of a fuck about your tawdry, petty little status toys than you do the planet you live on, it’s like, you haven’t turned all the lights on and are still playing in a small lit corner of a vast dark mansion it hasn’t crossed your tiny mind to get out and explore. I pity you, on some level, for the emotional poverty of the construct you inhabit. But mainly I resent you for the monumental conceit that you think there is actually a (ahem) ‘market’ out there for the childish nonsense you seem to truck in. Who GIVES a fuck for your sophomoric fantasies? Try reality sometime! You’ll find all sorts of long-dormant impulses stirring for the first time in that grey monoculture you mistake for life.
      Anyway, you distract tiresomely from the evidently conscientious efforts of M.Bitton, whose delvings into the roots of the current Quebec crisis have enlightened me considerably and are to be encouraged.

  8. What a wonderfully written analysis of why this crisis is so much more than a Student Protest. It was worth spending half an hour on it (I read English well, but somewhat more slowly than French).
    I will share this blog with my English-speaking friends and hope they read it to the end.
    I do want to mention though: many of La Presse’s columnists (Rima Elkouri, Michelle Ouimet, Michel Girard and Patrick Lagacé, for instance) have been writing, from the beginning, texts that contradict quite beautifully the editorialist line of the newspaper. A lot of their papers are available in English on http://www.quebecprotest.com/ (“Translating the printemps érable”).

    I really, really enjoyed reading you.

    • Thanks Isabelle! I really think once people realize that our wealth has doubled, but our tax revenues have fallen, they’ll see we *can* afford functioning social programs, and Quebecers are right to refuse any increase.

      And thanks for the correction about La Presse. I had been reading many attacks on the students, and didn’t realize there were so many contrary opinions. Will correct my post.

      Going to be making pamphlets on this topic.

      Feel free to translate or write your own version!

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