Now I don't want to be accused of invoking Godwin's Law in comparing our situation here in Quebec to that of pre-war Nazi Germany or present-day Greece but it is important to understand that deteriorating economic conditions that Germany suffered in the thirties sent a sensible and hitherto educated, mature and democratic nation off the rails, where the evils of National Socialism took root and the blaming of Jews for the nation's woes took off like a wildfire, much to the surprise of learned observers.
The underlying lesson is obvious, there is no country, no matter how stable or democratic that is immune from the effect of a perfect storm of negative economic and political forces which can lead to a devastating change in direction and a walk down the dark side.
The fundamental politics of a nation do change, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, who would have predicted that communism could collapse almost instantaneously in the 1980s and that the United States in this century would betray its proud heritage and leadership in the promotion of law and order and respect for fundamental human rights, morphing into a government of law-breakers, torturers, kidnappers and human rights abusers extraordinaire,
One horrific act of terrorism sent the United States down a course which betrayed every thing America stood for previously, becoming a nation which would break just about every right to privacy law on the books, not just against foes or enemies. but friends and common citizens as well, becoming an Orwellian state of thought police, where the right to a private conversation no longer recognized by the state.
Let us be honest for a moment.
How many of us were truly flabbergasted by the Quebec student riots over tuition and the level of disruption and chaos the demonstrations imposed on society over what is in essence a trivial issue.
Let us remember that the issue at hand wasn't language or culture, but rather money, the only true motivator in our modern Quebec society, or so it seems.
Sovereignty is well nigh impossible in Quebec as long as the province remains relatively prosperous and as long wealth distribution is reasonable, with no underclass to take to the barricades as during the French revolution.
The language or identity issue can't seem to do it, that is raise enough hackles to send Quebecers off to the polls voting themselves out of Canada in a pique or in a rage.
This is the situation we have lived for the last forty years of the sovereignty movement, a no-go due to the relative economic well-being of the province.
While Mario Beaulieu seeks to inflame emotions and engender conflict, his latest campaign in blasting the English press for over called "Quebec-bashing" is in reality, a resounding failure.
After much hoopla and publicity, the petition that he launched with much fanfare has garnered a paltry 3,000 signature, this a month later.
I'll remind readers that a petition to stop Kijiji from allowing advertising for Quebec puppy mills attracted over 60,000 signature, this without the mountains of free publicity that Mario Beaulieu and his anti-Quebec-bashing petition received from the media.
You'd think that every member of the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the Mouvement Quebec Francais, Imperatif-francais and other like-minded groups would rush out to sign the petition, so it is pretty clear that combined, these groups have very few supporters, at least less than 3,000 across the province, I'd assume.
So if the language and cultural issues just don't have the traction to push francophone voters over the top, does it mean that the likelihood of sovereignty is dead?
Unfortunately it does not..
We are facing a very real threat of sovereignty based on economic conditions and as Quebec slides further down the economic scale as compared with the rest of Canada, it is only a matter of time before things degenerate to a point where Quebecers will embrace sovereignty as a potential economic saviour.
For the last thirty years, the rest of Canada has been shovelling billions of dollars into Quebec each year, in order to shore up its prosperity and maintain a semblance of wealth parity with Canada.
But that system is unsustainable, because Quebec has spent the money foolishly on social entitlement programs, which are in most cases, too rich for the blood of those in the rest of the provinces who actually pay for them.
Despite the largess of the other provinces, Quebec still cannot balance its budget and is falling farther and farther into debt, with the ultimate day of reckoning a few short years away.
Very soon, Quebec will face the problem of having to increase taxes massively coupled with the necessity of decreasing the overly generous services and entitlements and that dear readers will be the start of the real push for sovereignty.
In danger there is opportunity.
Language and culture aside, money or the lack thereof will push Quebecers to seek out of Canada in the misguided belief that things could be better economically outside the union.
Look at the Greek public's reaction to their economic misfortunes, whereby everybody else is blamed, the Greek government, the rich, the European union and particularly Germany which had the temerity to lend Greece money it could not pay back.
Accepting the reality of an imposed downgrade in the standard of living is the one consequence Greeks seem to be unable to accept.
Why should we be different?
The student uprising was the first rumbling of this effect, reminding the government forcefully that entitlements are sacrosanct and that any government that trifles with them will face the wrath of the Quebec people.
It doesn't augur well.
So is it fair to ask if the Parti Quebecois is running down the Quebec economy on purpose, in order to create conditions conducive to sovereignty?.. I think not.
They are not that bright, nor so cynical.
But the reality is that they are doing so just the same, that is, running down the economic well-being of the province, piling up more debt, spending more, seemingly unconcerned wealth creation.
A couple more years of economic disaster and the very real consequence of reduced benefits and higher taxes will energize the sovereignty movement.
If things get bad enough, all bets are off, a sad scenario perhaps, but realistic.
Look around you.
Do you see a government working feverishly to create wealth and prosperity or do you see a government with priorities elsewhere.
The worse off Quebec become economically, the more realistic the sovereignty option becomes.
If you think I'm exaggerating about the economic situation, read this chilling account by Kelly McParland for Maclean's;
"A more likely driver than the political climate is the relatively decrepit state of the Quebec economy coupled with the highest income taxes of any Canadian jurisdiction,” the paper says.Sovereignty in modern Quebec is about economics, not language, not culture.
Compared to Ontario, Alberta and B.C., “Quebec has a 25-per-cent-lower gross domestic product on a per capita basis; a 16-per-cent-lower average salary, a four-percentage-point lower rate of employment; and a 17-per-cent-lower rate of productivity growth.”" Read more