Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quebec's Jean Charest and His Regressive Conservatives

In today’s politics, the liberal banner can mean many things. In Quebec politics, it means a federalist party similar in kind to the Ontario Conservatives under Mike Harris.

As a personal aside, I moved from Ontario to Quebec to escape the ideological wrath of a government that was hell bent on sticking it to anyone who had come to rely on public services. One day, I got a call at work from my son’s Ottawa elementary school to tell me that my son had been hit in the face with a chair by a special needs child who had just lost his teacher’s aide because of a quick and no-too-well-thought-out staff reduction. I didn’t want to stick around to see what else Mike would be doing in one of the greatest bullshit political movements of recent memory: the common sense revolution, so I moved across the river to Gatineau.

I thought I had done well. Sure, the taxes were higher, but they paid for some very good social programs, like the $5-a-day, publically-funded day care program.

Little did I know, that a certain Jean Charest, who claimed to be inspired by Mike Harris’s Conservatives, would become the Premier of Quebec.

I remember him running for office in 2003 with his big electoral promise that he would reduce taxes by $1 billion a year for the next five years. Boy, when Jean wants to fib, he goes for the whopper.

Then there was his call of a snap election in 2008 after the financial markets had collapsed. According to Jean, everything was under control, just a little bump on the road, and then we found out that Quebec’s public pension plan had lost $40 billion in 2008. Moreover, in the next budget, we learned that we would be running record deficits for the next five years, and the government had no idea how it was going to balance its books as the law required. That’s when Jean decided that we needed to change that pesky law.

In March of this year, we learned that each adult would be required to pay a annual fee of $200 to help out with our out-of-control health expenditures, in other words, a poll tax. To add insult to injury, we would also be charged a $25 fee for each visit to the doctor.

Again, I don’t mind paying higher taxes if there is social gain that results. However, in this case, I’ll be paying the same fee as my son (who now is living on his own) in spite of the fact that I make about three times his annual income.

Now, that doesn’t seem fair.

When asked about the regressive nature of the tax, our brilliant Finance Minister, Raymond Bachand, replied that Quebec already had too much in the way of progressive taxes.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself when I watched the interview, did he actually say what I thought he said?

This is Quebec, not Alberta. Here, people don’t simply defer to authority when they disagree.

Well, it turns out he meant every word and that also went for the $25-a-visit fee, which if he had taken the time to look at the Canada Health Act, he would know that this would come back to bite him in the ass.

Maybe, this is what happens when fin de regime mentality sets in.

In any case, something that I find quite humorous has occurred. People in Quebec are now looking to the Federal government to intervene to make sure that the guiding principles of the Canada Health Act are respected.

Forget the fact that we haven’t yet ratified the Constitution. We’re stuck with this McBozo as a Premier, and due to our completely out-dated electoral system, we’re stuck with him for another 3 years.

Well, you know what they say, people get the government they deserve. I guess that’s what happens when you fall for the schtick: in tough times, it’s best to have only two hands on the steering wheel. One of Jean's best lines.

Remind me never to get into a car being driven by a neo-conservative.

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