Quebec’s budget update too optimistic?

Quebec’s Finance Minister plans to return to balanced budget in five years

Quebec’s new budget update presented on Nov.12 by Finance Minister Eric Girard did not convince the members of the Official Opposition, qualifying it as “extremely optimistic.”

Girard has made ambitious projections in his budget plan despite Quebec’s deficit of $15 billion in 2020-2021. He is expecting the province to “return to a balanced budget within five years without cutting services and without increasing income and other taxes.”

To reach that goal, $1.5 billion will be invested over three years to help Quebec’s economic recovery. Of that amount, $477 million will be awarded to stimulate economic growth in various sectors.

“We need to stimulate economic growth. Our companies must be more competitive, more productive,” said Girard while presenting his budget plan.

Moments after the finance minister finished presenting his plan, the opposition held a press briefing in which Dominique Anglade, leader of the Official Opposition, said her party had asked the CAQ to deliver three different scenarios from the budget update.

Yet, just one “optimistic” scenario was presented to the public, making it hard for the opposition to have faith in the budget’s achievement potential.

Girard’s goal to get back to a balanced budget within five years doesn’t seem realistic to the opposition.

During the opposition’s presser, Pontiac MNA André Fortin expressed his misgivings about Quebec’s new budget plan. He believes the projections proposed in the budget are based on a theoretical increase in the Canada Health Transfer of $6.2 billion annually from the federal government, and other non-factual information.

“He’s also banking on the fact that there is going to be a vaccine and that the economy is going to kickstart back again really quickly. We don’t know that. There’s too much uncertainty,” said Fortin during the question and answer period.

When asked if his ambition for Quebec was too big, Finance Minister Éric Girard simply responded that, although the next six months may be hard, Quebecers need to stay positive and should look ahead at the future as there will be an economic restart.

Moreover, the Official Opposition also considers it too early to think about an economic recovery when the province is still undergoing a recession.

“We can’t commit to a five-year balance when we don’t know when the recession will be over,” said Liberal MNA Carlos J. Leitão during the opposition’s press briefing. “A balanced budget can only come when the economy returns to a more normal situation,” he added.

Many small businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy and need more investment to keep their business running. According to Anglade, the budget didn’t include any additional measures to help them. She also expressed her worries of an economic recovery being almost impossible if too many of them close.

“The reason why it’s extremely optimistic is because they say, ‘the growth is going to pick up.’ But in order for the growth to pick up, you need the companies to pick up. If they’re closing … you won’t see the economy going up,” she said.

Last March, Girard presented his first version of his 2020-2021 budget, which was overshadowed by the first wave of COVID-19. This update shows a three-year financial framework, instead of the usual five-year projection, due to the high level of uncertainty of the pandemic.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Are satellites the future of the Internet in rural Canada?

Trudeau announces $600 million project to connect rural Canada to broadband

The federal government is offering telecommunication companies subsidized access to a network of low-orbit satellites in an effort to increase broadband availability across the country, but questions remain over whether this will be a sustainable solution for delivering Internet to Canada’s remote regions.

On Monday, the federal government announced that the government will spend $600 million to gain access to a group of low-orbit satellites run by Canadian company Telesat. The government will then offer satellite network access to Canadian internet service providers — or ISPs for short — at a reduced rate, who can then pass on the service to consumers at a reasonable price.

If granted access to the Telesat network of satellites, an ISP must pass on the service to consumers at 50 Mbps download speeds and 10 Mbps upload speeds. ISPs will also be “subject to reporting conditions,” according to an email sent to The Concordian from the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.

Questions remain over whether satellite Internet will be affordable for people in remote communities.

“It’s great to have rural broadband access,” said Daniel Paré, an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa.

“But if it’s priced at a level that doesn’t make it affordable for people, how much advantage does it really bring at that point?”

In the past, when the government offered companies subsidized access to telephone lines for rural communities, phone plan prices did not reduce significantly. This is partially due to the challenges associated with crossing Canada’s vast terrain. It is also because there is smaller demand in smaller communities, making it difficult for ISPs to justify reducing their prices.

Government officials say this is one of their main reasons for acquiring Telesat network access.

“Canada is a big country,” said Minister Navdeep Bains during a press conference on Nov. 9. “And our geography presents challenges to building networks.”

He said satellites will help overcome Canada’s difficult geography, but did not say whether ISPs will be required to cap their prices when offering satellite access to consumers.

Erin Knight is a spokesperson for OpenMedia, a non-profit based in Vancouver that advocates for changes to Canada’s Internet policies. She also expressed concern over the sustainability of satellites as a long-term solution. She said that, while a satellite network can be effective for covering a large amount of terrain, they tend to have a shorter lifespan than land-based infrastructure.

This study from 2016 suggests that a satellite’s lifespan can be hard to predict; it can change significantly based on its size and distance from the ground.

“Low Earth Orbit satellites can last for a few years, versus a fiber connection which can last for more than 70 years,” she said.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Poli SAVVY: Is pushing for traditional values in a modern world the way to leadership?

BREAKING NEWS: There are still entitled men in politics.

On one side, we have potential Conservative candidate for the leadership, Richard Décarie who, during an interview with CTVs Power Play on Wednesday, said “LGBTQ” “is a Liberal term” and that being gay “is a choice.” He then said Canadians must encourage traditional values that have served us in the past, encouraging the defunding of abortion services and reinforcing the idea that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Then, on Friday, not too far from us, Trump became the first U.S. President to walk in the largest annual anti-abortion rally, the 47th March for Life in Washington.

I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was the 18th century?

While Trump’s decision might actually help him win the 2020 election, as a big part of his electoral voters are evangelical Christians who stand firmly against abortion, a Pew Research Centre survey conducted in the summer revealed that 61 per cent of Americans believe abortion should be legal and are concerned that some states are making it hard to access.

And over here, Décarie just gave a quick crash course on “how to lose an election in Canada.”

Federal elections have displayed over and over again that the Conservatives’ weak spots are their social values being out of tune with Canadian ones. More recently, Scheer’s stance on such topics hasn’t quite helped him win voters––au contraire.

A few Tories, such as frontrunner for leadership Peter Mackay, were quick to denounce the comments on Twitter. Still, Décarie’s reductive and ignorant remarks highlight exactly how replacing Scheer won’t necessarily erase the mentality that runs deep within the Conservative Party. Last October, in a post-election analysis, the co-founder of the anti-abortion group RightNow, Alissa Golob, proudly said they were able to elect at least 68 “pro-lifers” out of the 121 current members of the Conservative caucus.

What’s that expression again? Beware of who’s pulling the strings. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Poli SAVVY: So….what is Wexit exactly?

What started as a social media trend shortly after the federal election in October seems to be well alive a month later. And for once, Quebec is not the misunderstood child behind this separation movement.

#Wexit is the result of Alberta and Saskatchewan standing strongly for Tories in a mixed sea of orange NDP and red Liberals.

According to, a petition in favour of Alberta’s separation from the rest of Canada was created the very same night as the election’s results were unfolding. Now, it has more than 115,000 signatures. The VoteWexit Facebook group also reported as many as 40,000 new members only a few hours after the re-election of Trudeau’s government.

While the move comes as a Western alliance between Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the latter is mostly the front leader. On Nov. 5, Wexit founder Peter Downing officially began the registration of becoming a federal political party with Election Canada. In a five-page, open letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Downing wrote that “we cannot remain passive spectators in the filming of our own economic and political destruction.[…] by separating from Canada, we will keep our $50 billion in taxes right here at home, making life better for the people who live here.”

“This is not about anger Mr. Kenney. It is about survival,” argued Downing.

But how much weight does this movement actually have? Historically, this is not the first time that Canada has been faced with western alienation. It is an ongoing pattern throughout the past decades. Both the Social Credit Party and the Reform Party were partly a result of western provinces feeling that Ottawa was not supporting their interests.

Yet, we have to be careful. The copious social media platforms that didn’t exist back then now allow for a quicker spread of social movements. In an interview with the CBC, political scientist Jared Wesley warned about the danger of taking this issue lightly.

“This is a different kind of movement,” Wesley said. “We’ve seen it generate success south of the border and in Europe. I think political elites ignore it at their peril but they have to be very careful when they provide legitimacy to what, right now, is a pretty fringe movement.”


Graphic by Victoria Blair 

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