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Editorial: Public priorities, not private projects

by The Concordian November 3, 2015
Editorial: Public priorities, not private projects

Philippe Couillard promised to take care of “les vraies affaires” during the last provincial election campaign—apparently he meant taking care of private businesses, instead of the public sector. Quebecers are now facing tougher financial times than ever, with cuts to essential services across the board.

People heard the Premier’s song and dance, featuring his finance minister Carlos Leitão, more than once on how our province is so in debt that we need to reduce our expenses.

Graphic by Charlotte Bracho.

Graphic by Charlotte Bracho.

Couillard announced last week that Quebec will be investing an astonishing $1.32 billion of taxpayers’ money into Bombardier—which recently announced a $6.46 billion loss—to help them develop the CSeries Jet. Quebecers are right to question whether their billion dollars is being spent the right way.

This investment is especially controversial and unwelcome at a time when public-sector employees are on a rotating strike; at a time when teachers are losing money; at a time when students are being denied more and more services.

This announcement comes at the same time as a Montreal high school has been in the spotlight for needing help from a Protestant church after harsh budget cuts.

What transpires from this bailout is that the provincial liberal government is more concerned with injecting taxpayers’ money into the private sector—money the population will likely never see again­—whilst services to the population get worse and worse week after week.

Sure, there is a lot at stake; Bombardier employs more than 18,000 workers in the province. But is this investment worth the cost of not giving enough to the next generations and the ones to follow? The Quebec government is partnering with one of Bombardier’s three divisions that faces great difficulties—the CSeries Jet division is already two years behind schedule.

Did Couillard ask for the people’s opinion on investing money that will primarily benefit executives and shareholders?

Of course not.

It can be argued Quebec is going to save 18,000 jobs, but will they be saved in the long term? With such a risky investment, no one can predict whether those employees will still be working at Bombardier in five years time.

So what happens to these public funds when everything falls apart­ again?

It seems Quebecers have better ideas about what to do with such an amount of money.

This past week was not about our provincial government investing in some company with a long-term plan in mind. This past week saw another example of a Quebec Liberal majority government stealing money from the population—from our pockets.

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