Conservative MP for Beauce in Quebec, Maxime Bernier, got himself into hot water recently by expressing what most Canadians outside Quebec consider to be a simple truth. Mr. Bernier has been scolded because he said in a recent speech to party members in Mont-St-Grégoire, Quebec:
“Let’s be frank: Many people in the rest of the country perceive Quebecers as a bunch of spoiled children who are never satisfied and always ask for more. This perception has some basis in reality.”
This was enough for Quebec’s Finance Minister, Raymond Bachand, to accuse Mr. Bernier of “Quebec-bashing;” the Parti Québécois called the comments “contemptuous;” and the newspaper Le Devoir reported that Mr. Bernier has taken to “flaying” Quebec as he travels the country.
This was only the start of the Quebec media barrage directed at the former foreign affairs minister. According to the National Post, one columnist piled on by telling Mr. Bernier to buy a one-way ticket to Alberta. While Jean-François Lisée, apparently an influential commentator, delivered the ultimate insult, writing that Mr. Bernier has assumed former PM Pierre Trudeau’s role as “the Quebecer who speaks badly of Quebec.”
Such is the political and social atmosphere in Quebec these days that criticism is met with defensiveness and defiance. No matter that your criticisms are accurate—truth is never a defence—any criticism of Quebec’s social or political policies or programs will bring quick retribution, especially so when the one leveling the criticism is a known conservative.
Because of its systematic government intervention in all aspects of life in the provence, Quebec had acquired one of the heaviest fiscal debt loads in North America. Over-reaching social programs and financially ruinous and unsustainable subsidies to businesses, artists, parents and too many others to list have created a province that depends on borrowed money and federal “charity” to fund its public services. As Mr. Bernier said, “If we do not change direction soon, we’re going to hit a brick wall.”
Mr. Bernier may have used kinder words, but the above is essentially what he had to say. And I agree with all of it.