[Chronique de Michel David] A case of money

When he was in the Parti Québécois, François Legault had issued a warning: « If a slowdown or a recession were to occur, it is on its knees that Quebec would live Canadian federalism », while sovereignty promised him unlike better days.

The leader of the Coalition avenir Québec estimates that there is now a 50% chance that the Québec economy will enter a recession, but that does not prevent him from believing that federalism remains more advantageous.

It goes without saying that the increased need for political stability in times of economic uncertainty also makes him plead that it is better to let an experienced team “have both hands on the wheel”.

Last spring, Mr. Legault said he was impatient to see the study on public finances promised by the PQ, which was intended to be an update of the one he himself had carried out in 2004, which had concluded that Quebec had every advantage in leave the federation.

While Paul St-Pierre Plamondon claims that the publication of this study was delayed because of the new calculations required by the surge in inflation, Mr. Legault rather believes that his conclusions are not sufficiently conclusive in the eyes of the PQ, the equalization received by Quebec having gone from $4 billion to $13 billion since 2004.

It is true that since Jacques Parizeau’s Year 1 Budget (1973), via the studies of the Bélanger-Campeau Commission (1990) and those of the Ministry of Restructuring (1995), exercises of this kind have had mixed effects.

As rigorous as the calculations can be, there are simply too many unknowns that have the effect of triggering confusing and worrying number wars. While its campaign is going well, the PQ had no interest in launching a debate that would have placed Paul St-Pierre Plamondon on the defensive.

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Passing through the editorial table of the To have to last Saturday, the CAQ leader defended himself well for having transformed himself into a defender of Canadian unity, but it’s like: “We receive at least 10 billion more than we send to Ottawa. It still has to be said. »

In the federal capital, we have surely taken note of the good dispositions of Mr. Legault. Of course, he will always ask for more money, but we had never heard him talk about federalism in such a positive way. We can still make him swallow snakes.

When he was in opposition, Mr. Legault criticized the Couillard government for having managed the economy so badly that the equalization paid to Quebec had tripled. It has now become his main argument for remaining within the federation.

We can legitimately decide to give up these billions in order to preserve our identity, he acknowledges, but it is not his choice. Finally, for the CAQ, this whole debate is not a question of dignity or pride, as Bernard Drainville had launched in a memorable plea in favor of independence in the National Assembly, but simply a matter of money. .

Mr. Legault has never claimed to be a romantic hero, even if he has more than once succeeded in making the national fiber vibrate. However, the accountant is never far away.

It nevertheless begins to become embarrassing that the “New project for the nationalists of Quebec”, which was to lay the foundations of a “new relationship” with Canada, does not produce the slightest result. Mr. Legault is still unable to identify a single one of his 21 requests that received a positive reception in Ottawa.

He now says he is ready to give up the new powers in immigration that he was asking for if the federal government makes sure to welcome more French-speaking newcomers so as to tend towards a proportion of 80%.

The experience of Francophone immigration outside Quebec, however, leaves one skeptical. The target of 4.4% of all newcomers, which was set by the federal government in 2003, has never even come close to being achieved, despite cries of alarm from Francophone communities. That hasn’t stopped the minister responsible, Sean Fraser, from once again promising to get there by next year.

Recognizing that « it’s not easy with Justin Trudeau », Mr. Legault is again betting on a change of government in Ottawa. However, he did not dare to pronounce the name of Pierre Poilievre. Money is all well and good, but selling your soul to the devil isn’t necessarily good business.

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