Sunday, 9 September 2012

Montreal 1976

Last night, the Parti Québécois won a minority government and Pauline Marois became Québec's first female premier (something that neighbouring Premierdadistan Ontario has yet to experience).  And against my own better judgement, I spent the several hours that followed the result on comment boards of Canada's English media outlets, reading about how home values are going to collapse, english is going to be outlawed, and a backed up convoy made up of the few businesses, entrepreneurs, and upright anglophones this poor basket case of a province had left was already forming on the 401.  Unfortunately, it seems that one of Canada's national sports is to make disparaging comments about La Belle Province on heavily read internet sites, in total anonymity.  And I wouldn't deplore this fact if the scenario I described above had anything remotely  to do with reality, which it doesn't.

Sure Mme. Marois' campaign left a lot to be desired.  You won't get me riled up about burkas (who gives a shit?) or French in the workplace.  Who cares if someone from India at work speaks English to me? I speak English.  If we didn't speak french, neither of us would have got the job, and we work for a fairly large corporation, so obviously there is no anti-french private sector conspiracy here.  I agree with the PQ that it's shitty for immigrants to come here and try to live 100% in English when there's 9 other provinces they can go to, but at some level (conversations between private individuals) there comes a point where state-mandated language laws become fascist.  Besides, the only free school for immigrants is in French (hence all the little children of South Asian parents running around Parc Extension's little streets yelling at each other in French).  This is why no media outlet could scrape together any enthusiasm for the PQ at the beginning of the campaign.  It doesn't matter to them that Marois has since stated that anglos were here from the start and she's down with them 100%.  Either way, I'm not scared of her.

The real scary thing, if you ask me, was these same newspapers continually boosting the "stability" and "experience" of Jean Charest's Liberals.  That that party received nearly as much of the popular vote as the PQ is even scarier than a PQ government for me, because the population voting for them is so asleep at the wheel that they're willing to look past corporate bailouts, mafiosos, asbestos, fracking, and all the no-bid, price-fixing bullshit that is entrenched in Quebec politics under 9 years of Liberal rule .  This just might have been the most corrupt government in Canadian history.  The National Assembly for the past few years has been nothing more than a revolving door between assorted corrupt entities and layers of Quebec society. will tell you everything you need to know.

Yet somehow, this Liberal government that increased the province's debt (the highest in Canada) by 33% in 9 years was the "stable and prudent" choice.  Charest just expected people to vote for him and his usual Captain Canada bullshit routine and usually astute political observers in the news media and the blogosphere (I'm looking at you, Garth Turner and Gordie Canuk) gave him a free pass because they didn't want to be caught dead associating with the francophone parties (who all have "nationalist" elements to them, in that they wish for French to survive).  The whole English (Charest didn't give a French interview for the last two weeks of the campaign)/immigrant/Canada flag pandering may please the Globe and Mail and old-school deluded Trudeau liberals, but obviously Quebec voters didn't feel the same way.

Nobody is going to leave here to go to Ontario.  The English population is older than the French population.  Both provinces have 8 unemployed for each vacant post (of which there are many).  The people who know there is big money in AB and SASK are already gone and people who aren't are obviously staying here due to a slate of other factors other than provincial GDP that have to di with quality of life.  Car insurance, houses, rent, tuition and electricity are all way more expensive in Ontario (although food and gas is a bit cheaper), and Ontario is grappling with a way bigger deficit than Quebec right now.  And the truth is, real estate prices should (and hopefully will) fall here.  They are lower than the rest of Canada's, but have increased at an equally unsustainable rate based on cheap credit and not improving underlying economic fundamentals.  So here's to a Quebec real estate decline.

When cassandra's are screaming doom and bloody murder, experience tells us that that is when smart people take calculated risks.  If you moved here after previous PQ elections and bought (in '76 and '94) you would have made a killing in real estate by now.  Of course, that involves tuning out the mainstream claptrap and doing your own analysis - it's hard because we are the species that lined up to pay $100 for enron and nortel because it was "smart".  Most people lamenting this province's swirl down the toilet bowl obviously haven't been here lately to see the packed restaurant patios, teeming university campuses, hordes of hot chicks riding their bikes down busy streets, and scores of hotels with healthy occupancy rates across the island of Montreal.  Sure you have that on College street in Toronto but you need 2 grand to rent a place there or a million to buy.  Here there is great opportunity and great value, as you can live in prime areas for less than half those amounts, and access poutine, cheap unibroue and street level fruit markets at all hours.  So I am not shedding tears for this province's future after September 4, 2012.  This is a totally different ball game from November 1976.

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