does Alberta want in or does it want Quebec out?

Stephen Harper, among other things, is famous for coining the Reform Party’s original tag line “The West wants in”.  In 2006, when he finally took his seat as Prime Minister of Canada, he made good. If you ask me, the West found its way in after years of self imposed exile (well, partially imposted exile – Trudeau might have let the door slam on their way out in the seventies).

The recent election campaign in Alberta raised a familiar family jealousy. Alberta needn’t be jealous of its entitled big brother Quebec. Especially these days. If you spend your youth seeking any parental attention you can get, once you’ve got it (hint: oil helps) please don’t use it to harp (pun intended) on the old days.

A few Alberta campaign issues took some well worn pot shots at Quebec. Quebecers have cheap daycare. Quebecers have cheap tuition. Quebecers have it better. Well, go work in Quebec and see what’s left of your pay cheque before you do. In Quebec, everyone puts more money in the pot and everyone takes more out. Is it sustainable, non? But the flip side is it’s more equitable. Just breathe and hear me out. Quebecers are taxed more but have more services. As such, their disposable income is proportionately higher than ours.Which is why, in my view, they made it through the last recession much better than the rest of us. Because they cushioned their own fall.

While my cousins paid $5/day for daycare, I paid $50. In a single year, my $10,000 a year daycare expense was $1,000 for their families. Granted, their income tax is higher and they file both provincially and federally – but I’d have gladly paid more tax to have more disposable income at the end of my fiscal year.

But when it comes to the uber sensitive topic of equalization, Alberta, who’s in the best position of us all still seems to resent what Quebec has paid handsomely to get. Matters of their own provincial jurisdiction are their own business. Wouldn’t it be best if they minded it?

That Alberta would use its current good fortune to whine about the accommodations made for other citizens in other provinces is poor sportsmanship. How many cowboys stomp their feet, kick dirt then walk off in a huff. Not many I know. Turns out, thankfully, that strategy didn’t work out for the wild roses but the provincial equalization band aid’s been ripped off again, in my view.

When you drive into cow town, you’re greeted by a sign featuring an outline of a red cowboy hat proclaiming Calgary as the Home of the New West. Well I hope the new west will remember its old west roots.  There is dignity in the shoot first ask questions later of spaghetti westerns and real authentic conservative politics like those of Preston Manning and Peter Lougheed. Everyone loves a good western and instictively trusts an old cowboy. It’s the new ones I’m not so sure about.


3 Responses

  1. […] out Louise Wallace’s latest post does Alberta want in or does it want Quebec out? . The recent election campaign in Alberta raised a familiar family jealousy. Alberta needn’t be […]

  2. Anyone with a an ounce of common sense yet alone one with a degree in economics will tell you Quebec is in deep deep trouble and near fiscal collapse. $285.6 billion in the red and a woping 95% debt-to-GDP ratio (5th highest in the world). The only thing keeping Quebecs welfare state afloat is the large transfer payments pouring in from the rest of Canada. And how has Quebec weathered the recession much better than the rest of us? A quick look at the unemployment figures shows that Quebec has ALWAYS had a higher unemployment than the rest of Canada. I’d be extremely careful about leading anyone over that cliff.

    • I hear what you’re saying. I know Quebec is in trouble. Ontario too for that matter. Deep trouble. The Dutch disease will be an interesting debate to follow in the weeks ahead. My point was merely that I didn’t see why Alberta’s election campaign would take issue with Quebec’s “entitlement” as part of their campaigning. And it was clearly part of the wild rose rhetoric. My experience in Quebec is anectodal. I’ve spent most every summer of my life in QC with my family. I see how my peers are doing. I can tell you that in my honest experience, they pay more tax but they are better off and have more disposable income. I’m not leading anyone off any cliff. I’m just sharing how I see it. Thanks for sharing how you see things.

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