I've waited a long time to write this piece, probably because I didn't quite know how to frame the argument.
But I came across a television show where a daredevil explained the concept of risk to reward so well, that it inspired me to write this piece which endeavours to explore the potential positive elements of Quebec sovereignty, versus the potential negative effects.
Now please watch this three minute video clip as an expert explains the concept.
The clip is from the National Geographic Channel's television show called "The Number's Game" hosted by Jake Porway and is an utterly fascinating look into the world of statistics, probabilities and little known human traits.
I highly encourage you to view the show and consider a subscription to the National Geographic Channel, it will amaze you.
At any rate, I hope this little blurb for the NGC, will convince them to let me use this tiny clip about Jeb Corliss and how efficiently he analyses the risk to reward, in relation to any given stunt.
Humans are magnificent risk evaluators and while we all have different ideas about what is acceptable or not, we all do have a threshold beyond where we will not take a certain risk because the chance and consequences of failure is determined to be unacceptable.
Perhaps it's most simple to explain by a hypothetical challenge whereby you are asked to walk across a footbridge over a thousand foot gorge and where there is a possibility that the bridge may give, plunging you to your death, but where on the other side of the gorge is a satchel with a million dollars with your name on it.
Would you walk across the bridge if the chances were one in a million that it would collapse?
But, what if the chance was 1/100,000, 1/10,000, or 1/1,000, 1/10 or 1/3?
Those are the types of decisions we all make every day when we get behind the wheel of our car or take an airplane flight, go bungee jumping or play dominos. Some people have a higher level of risk-taking than others, but in the end we all have a limit.
So here I'd like to discuss with devoted sovereigntists the concept of risk/reward of Quebec independence.
Has anybody ever really made a legitimate risk to reward analysis?
So let us consider...........
If you are a sovereigntist, the benefits of independence is clear. Bye-bye Canada, hello to Quebec the country.
How will Quebec be different?
Well, obviously the entire purpose of sovereignty is to make Quebec a French nation and that will certainly occur.
There won't be any chance that immigrants assimilate on the English side of the language equation because English will be phased out, there's no other reasonable expectation.
Public English services and education will be phased out and English will generally disappear, perhaps slowly, but ultimately completely.
For most sovereigntists, this is the ideal outcome, the ultimate safeguarding of a French future for Quebec by the elimination of English from all manner of Quebec life.
Additionally Quebec will be freed to explore its own version of society and those differences and compromises that it was forced to make in the past (like the gun registry) with Ottawa.
All this must be weighed against;
To my mind the biggest risk is the amount of Quebec citizens and companies that will leave Quebec in favour of Canada. There's little doubt that there will be movement, but the question is how much.
The more that leave, the shakier the Quebec economy gets and if too many leave it could trigger a social and economic disaster.
Now to many sovereigntists getting rid of Anglos who choose not to live in Quebec may seem as a reward but at a certain point, the exodus could make Quebec's situation untenable.
So is that number of people leaving Quebec 10,000 or a million? What say you?
Then there is the question of businesses leaving.
Like the head offices that stampeded out of Quebec during the 1970's, Quebec independence would force companies to make a decision of whether to stay or leave/
Having a Bombardier or CGI, or any of the large employers leave would be a staggering loss, having dozens or hundred or thousands of companies leave would be a disaster.
People and companies will move, but how many remains the issue to be considered.
The wild card in all this is whether Canada will make it easy for these people and these companies to move.
Let us remember the United Empire Loyalists who were British subjects enticed to come over the border from the newly created United States with offers of free land.
Let's look at it from Canada's point of view.
Once the dust has settled and Quebec is independent, Canada can make offers to Quebec businesses to jump to Canada for certain advantages, perhaps a ten or twenty year tax holiday. Many businesses would jump at the opportunity given the uncertainty of an independent Quebec.
The problem for Quebec is that it will have to match the offers, just to keep what it already has.
I can't really see Quebec in a position to make the same offer to Canadian companies, because frankly, there's the language barrier and also the fact that it's highly unlikely that any company based in Canada would consider moving to Quebec.
What if Canada makes the same re-location offer to average citizens, that is perhaps, a ten year holiday from federal taxes?
Will Quebecers on the fence be enticed with such an offer?
I'll tell you one thing readers, everybody will make a selfish decision based on self-interest.
If Quebec became a country tomorrow, I would rent a tiny apartment in Ottawa and declare myself an Ontarian, keeping my present Quebec residence as a 'second' home. A federal tax break from Ottawa would make the whole thing a no brainer, a win/win situation for me and a lose/lose situation for the Quebec tax department.
Every person and every company will make a decision about the future and the only question is how much Quebec will bleed.
And I'm not even getting into the discussion of whether Quebec pulls out more money out of Canada then it puts in each year.
Dedicated sovereigntists have been trying to convince Quebecers that such is not the case, usually by some sleight of hand and fanciful cyphering, but lately Quebecers have become more and more skeptical of these claims.
So if you are a sovereigntist you really need to consider these risks against the reward, because the risks are real.
For too long the sovereigntist leadership has kept their heads firmly planted in the ground like an ostrich, never daring to play the 'what if' game.
You will recall that Bernard Drainville never sought legal opinions over the Charter of Values, because clearly he anticipated an unacceptable response.
This has been the sovereigntist position for over forty years.....don't ask/don't tell/don't discuss.
The current drop in support for sovereignty has nothing to do with the drop in nationalism. It is more likely because Quebers have performed their own risk/reward analysis in their own minds and have come to the conclusion that the reward of Quebec sovereignty is not worth the risk, most concluding that Quebec gets too good a deal out of Canada to give it up.
That is what the PQ has to reflect upon.
Is the reward of Quebec sovereignty worth the risk? Until now they've been asking Quebecers to bet the house without knowing the odds and it's clear that Quebecers are no longer prepared to do so.
Until they can show Quebecers a sovereignty plan that considers all the risks, they are dead in the water.
What the PQ must really consider during this period of reflection, is whether it is at all feasible.
I think not....
NOTE TO READERS.....
I will be taking it a little easy over the summer and be posting erratically, but keep checking back, I'll be around..