Pierre Cloutier: Richard LE HIR – Is Canada Breaking Up? And NOT Because Quebec Wants It So?

Cultural Intelligence
Pierre Cloutier
Pierre Cloutier

Canada / Quebec 2013

Ready, not ready, independence is coming

The process of disintegration of the federation is on the verge of rapid acceleration

I say and repeat on all keys for three years here on Vigil, Canada is in trouble. You tell me that his situation is better or worse than many other countries, and I would say that the vast majority of other countries do not harbor them within a nation, recognized as such, which in his case, maintains the ambition to become independent from its conquest by the British on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.

That the intensity of this ambition has fluctuated over the years matter. What matters is that it exists and that it reflects a collective will to live deeply rooted, one of the criteria for the recognition of States under international law. This simple fact precarious Canada as some other countries.

Under these conditions, when events occur which have the effect of undermining its foundations, the question of the survival of Canada in its known form to that time arises. This is the case at present, to a degree that Canada has ever known, and certainly not during the two referendums held in Quebec in 1980 and 1995.

If the question of the survival of Canada then arose, it is only because of the threat posed to the integrity of the prospect of secession of Quebec. This secession, if it occurred, would have been the cause of the breakup of Canada.

Today, the question is quite different. Canada is the prey of both endogenous and exogenous forces, with which Quebec has little to do all of which contribute to its dislocation. Under such conditions, the secession of Quebec would not be the main cause of the breakup of Canada, but its consequences would be for Quebecers no longer an act of hostility against Canada and Canadians, but a reflex basic survival, a stampede is when the ship is sinking.

Collapse of Canada's cultural foundations

The crisis in the country formerly called developed not spared Canada. Any time, the ability of states to resist these attacks took in large part to their degree of national cohesion, and cohesion is itself a function of shared identity and cultural traits that translate into values.

But it is not a secret that, in this regard, Canada is facing many challenges. To maximize its economic development, Canada has opened the floodgates of immigration, and thinking to make themselves more attractive, adopted a multicultural approach, without worrying too much about the integration of newcomers.

In forty years, Canada has become a hodgepodge of nationalities, a potluck where everyone has found what he brought. Toronto is a perfect example. Nationalities live alongside each other in villages (euphemism for ghettos) without further cement the trade.

When trade prospereth, all is well, but when he is struggling, fractures community and ethnic tensions began to appear, as evidenced by some violent incidents in recent years. You do not build a country calls malls, and Canada has become over the years a long narrow strip malls that follow one after the other.

Already reluctant to place in Canada, each for their own reasons, Quebec and First Nations are obstacles to the development of a Canadian identity compatible with the aspirations of the anglophone majority, unable to hide his deep irritation and even hostile to the specific language of Quebec and the obligation of bilingualism that results for the whole country.

Aware of the poverty of the symbols of union with Canada, the Harper government has released the monarchy “mothballs” thinking illusion. The attempt is so ridiculous that it has had the opposite effect and only served to highlight how Canada is in bad shape in this regard. The queen is reduced to serve fig leaf in Canada, vine leaf … A feast for the cartoonists.

Collapse of Canada's social foundations

The economic crisis also brings social tensions that will only increase gradually as it will grow, hence the efforts to hide the true dimension in the fol hope that growth will resume at a rate that will soon hide the deep divisions that are growing more rapidly among Canadians, both on the generational social classes which one of them the middle class has literally melted in their eyes during the last twenty years, under the impact of globalization and offshoring of manufacturing jobs.

Since the early seventies, Canada has a social safety net, sophisticated, and collective psychology, the net has replaced the myth of the transcontinental railroad as a factor for Canadian Unity . Any threat to the coverage provided by our social systems is immediately perceived as an attack against Canadian values.

But to the extent that it becomes increasingly clear that we need this coverage to massive borrowing on the credit of our government and we indebted future generations at a level that raises very serious issues of intergenerational equity, the extent and universality of coverage will be questioned.

Already we have seen how far some private sector companies have gone to jettison their contractual obligations to their employees, and provincial governments are preparing to do the same. As it is they who have the constitutional responsibility to provide these services and their employees are unionized, we can easily imagine the magnitude of the looming confrontation.

Moreover, to avoid a situation that became untenable and to try to save time, Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario chose to resign last fall, leaving several months the population in ignorance of the gravity of the situation, and public service trade unions, without a target.

Unfortunately, no miracle occurred since then, the economy has continued to stagnate if it does not actually deteriorated. The bad news will fall later in the spring.

Ontario is the only province in a difficult situation. The Premier of Alberta, Alison Redford, has warned his people last week that his government was faced with difficult choices that Albertans would be affected necessarily soon, either by raising taxes or by a reduction in service, or a combination of both.

In the Maritimes, the situation is so bad that the senators of the region proposed last November, a merger of the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island. At the time, their approach was coldly received , but it remains that the issue and the proposed response are most relevant.

In an environment where financial resources are very scarce, 1.8 million people in the region (less than the population of the city of Montreal, which has 1.9 million ) can no longer afford the luxury of supporting three provincial governments distinct.

When it becomes apparent within a few months that Ontario alone absorb the lion's share of equalization payments within three or four years, the Maritime provinces are also faced with extremely difficult budget choices that will impact comparable to those in Ontario in terms of their ability to provide services and the need to reduce costs.

Their situation is even more precarious they are already suffering from cuts announced by the federal Employment Insurance program on which a significant portion of their economy given the seasonal nature of an activity like fishing. In fact, the Maritimes will face in the short term to a complete breakdown lifestyle, and there are many signs that the population of these provinces do not solve them without reacting harshly.

Having already lived in this region and have traveled on numerous occasions for the purposes of my work, I can attest to the strength of the community spirit that reigns there, and that was evident enough recently with opposition of the people of New Brunswick to the takeover of NB Power by Hydro-Québec.

It is therefore clear that Canada will face in the short or medium term very serious social crisis on a scale never known, that will shake the country in its deepest foundations.

Collapse of the economic foundations of Canada

This crisis is even more likely that the economic situation of the country is on track to worsen. To fully understand it, it must be remembered that Canada's prosperity has long been provided by the auto pact and its consequences have mainly benefited the manufacturing sector in Ontario.

These are benefits that have allowed Ontario to grow if rapid population and GDP, and become the “cash cow” of the Canadian equalization. This situation lasted until the late 20th century when the Canadian dollar, hitherto a very low level compared to the U.S. dollar (it is actually down to $ 0.64 in the months that followed the 1995 referendum ) began to rise under the effect of the gradual reduction and elimination of the federal deficit, and the recording of its first surplus since 1970.

At the time of the 2008 crisis, the Canadian dollar was able to bounce back against the Canadian dollar. But we must understand that what gave Canadians a national pride also gave cold sweats and stomach ulcers for Ontario manufacturers. The competitive advantage that gave them the weakness of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. as snow melted in the sun.

When the financial crisis erupted in the United States leading to a collapse in demand for products manufactured in Ontario, factory closures are rapidly increased, and it has failed to regain lost ground as evidenced by the damage as quickly as massive public finances.

The slowdown in U.S. growth in the last quarter of 2012 and the possibility that the United States is fallen into recession is the worst news for Ontario, for Canada but insofar Albertans fail to find buyers for their oil at a price that enables profitable operation , as explained in its population the Premier Redford last week .

As if these problems were not enough, Canada is also facing the next burst of the housing bubble that developed there for several years. In addition, without the knowledge of Canadians, despite assurances beautiful the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Canada had to intervene heavily in markets for Canadian banks to avoid being swept in the debacle in 2008.

His rescue, executed through the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has managed to fly under the radar of the media that CMHC is probably the federal agency whose profile is most low .

Finally, Canadians on the hottest economic news have learned in recent days that the Bank of Canada was launched since 2009 in an aggressive program of buying bonds of Canada in a very personal version of the quantitative easing practiced by other major central banks.

Thus, there is an almost vertical increase its purchases of Canadian bonds for two years, at a time when the authorities were reassuring highlighting the strength of the Canadian economy, and when it was believed that the foreign demand for Canadian federal government securities was high. Bad surprise!

In addition, the Canadian government will proceed to refinance $ 267 billion of its obligations in 2013, and it is therefore expected that the Bank of Canada acquires a portion substantially higher than it has been customary in the past . What still fragile financial balance of the country.

On balance, it is necessary to note that the combined effects of globalization and the financialization of the global economy, the rise of the Canadian dollar since the early 2000s, the financial crisis of 2008 and the collapse of the manufacturing sector in Ontario that followed, have delighted in Canada as its industrial power to bring in what he was still in the early 1960s, a major global supplier of raw materials certainly but constant prey rapidly alternating cycles of expansion and contraction to suit the changing demands that characterizes this kind of economy, described by observers warned of “casino economy.”

Collapse of the political foundations of Canada

It goes without saying that all these shocks will have political implications. Canada never did he find more precarious position, even to the point of being threatened with dislocation. This kind of process is often very fast, unless it be a case of breaking free as Czechoslovakia in 1992, separated almost overnight in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Conservatives came to power in 2006, first forming a minority government before becoming a majority in the 2011 election marked a turning point. Conservatives reject the Trudeau vision of Canada based on a strong central government and impose more heavily another vision, the opposite of the first.

This vision, strongly inspired by the American far right, points a large proportion of the Canadian electorate. Whether any majority in the House of Commons, the party of Stephen Harper won only 38.5% of the vote in the country. But the West and the polarization left / right of the electorate have been fatal to the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois are very reduced out of the 2011 election, while the New Democratic Party was a major breakthrough in Quebec and delighted as the Official Opposition Liberals.

Since the 2011 election, the Conservative Party applies to its agenda and make hollow deeper the gap between the different parts of the country and communities on issues as disparate as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, Canada's unconditional support for Israel, the treatment of young offenders, registration of firearms, the revival of the monarchy, the adoption of an aggressive military posture, alignment systematic Canadian foreign policy on those United States, etc..

In addition, the reduction granted the ability of federal government intervention in Canadian life, reducing its revenue from gambling taxation, creates conditions conducive to its gradual disappearance from the scene, to the chagrin of high spheres of public service that are not only their power but also wither international prestige they enjoyed because of the relative independence of Canada against the United States.

The vacuum which moved to Ottawa in many cases where the central government was previously heavily involved in the up position the provinces where they are intended to replace a reversal in federal rather dramatic situation that prevailed before the federal government loan agreements called “pragmatic” to give their activities in certain areas.

Thus, for the federalists school Trudeau, the last meeting of the Federation Council who saw all provinces show independence almost casually towards the federal government had to make them the same effect as a festival of sorcerer's apprentice.

If some refuse to see anything other than these realignments sound application of the spirit of federalism, a comprehensive review of the situation quickly revealing the fault lines, even some deep cracks, who are making irreversible process of dislocation in which Canada has been involved some years.

Quebec independence

Unaccustomed to pay attention to what is happening elsewhere in Canada, and kept in ignorance by the media to the federalist balance centrifugal forces which agitate the country, Quebecers do not see the future taking shape, a future in which the choice to remain within Canada does not only appear more like the most likely to ensure their economic prosperity, but rather as an obstacle increasingly heavy to flourish. It is in their interest to understand as quickly as possible which looks at the risk of not being able to make the most of the situation.

Ready, not ready, independence is coming.

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