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  1. http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Celine+Cooper+Montreal+city+state/9536579/story.html Montreal as its own city-state? BY CELINE COOPER, THE GAZETTE FEBRUARY 24, 2014STORY Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau, left, is applauded by Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, right, and members of the government after he presented his budget speech, Thursday, February 20, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City. Photograph by: Jacques Boissinot , THE CANADIAN PRESS Greetings from Administrative Region 06. What’s that? Oh. You may know it by another name — Montreal, the second largest city in Canada. The economic hub of Quebec. The city that generates approximately 65 per cent of provincial tax revenues. One might assume that buoying a metropolis — investing in the human potential, entrepreneurship and global networking opportunities the city has to offer — would be a central plank in any provincial or federal budget. Then again, one might be wrong. Last Thursday, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau tabled the 2014-15 provincial budget. In his budget speech in the National Assembly, Marceau stated that his government acknowledges Montreal’s unique status as the metropolitan economic engine of Quebec. His budget commits to the renewal of the province’s annual $25-million investment in the city. In anticipation of the 375th anniversary of Montreal in 2017, a total of $125 million is earmarked for four projects: Parc Jean Drapeau, Espace pour la vie, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. But dig a little deeper and things start to ring hollow. For example, there is no detail regarding what Montreal will get back from these investments, or whether these projects may, in fact, increase the city’s operating expenses in terms of security, maintenance or infrastructure. On more pressing challenges facing Montreal, the budget doesn’t go far enough. There is $6 million set aside for fighting homelessness — an urgent concern for many residents of the city. But there is no new money allocated for social housing, public transit or immigrant integration, and no money earmarked for the retention of families on the island of Montreal. To be fair, it seems almost silly to take this budget seriously. No one expects it to be voted on in the National Assembly. Before Marceau had even completed his announcement, the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Liberals had roundly rejected it. Beyond the proposed increase in daycare user fees from $7 a day to $9 by 2015, it is non-controversial and lacking in detail. There are no general tax increases to irk voters. Detailed spending information is conveniently omitted. In short, this is less a budget than a financial framework for an election campaign. With the latest CROP poll putting the PQ into majority-government territory and MNAs headed for a two-week leave on Thursday, many expect an election to be called as early as this week. Either way, Marceau’s announcement gives voters an idea of how Montreal will be positioned symbolically (or not) in the coming electoral campaign. Why does this matter? With half of the province’s population concentrated here (close to 4 million people), our metropolitan area has some serious demographic heft. As Journal de Montréal columnist Benoît Aubin recently pointed out, if Montreal decided to go its own way and become the 11th province of Canada, it would be more populous than all the Atlantic provinces combined. Yet provincial governments across Canada — including Quebec’s — continue to take a relatively flat approach to budgeting. Despite our urbanizing world, cities are still seen as “creatures” of the provinces, just another administrative region on an electoral map — in Montreal’s case, Administrative Region 06. But in the imminent general election campaign, expect to see some pushback. Real acknowledgement of Montreal as Quebec’s metropolis means revising the fiscal arrangement between Quebec and Montreal and negotiating a meaningful devolution of powers from the province to the city. “It’s time a major economic engine of the province and the country is accorded more rights,” as Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was quoted as saying in a Gazette article last week. Interestingly, François Cardinal, a columnist at La Presse, has emerged as one of the strongest, most coherent champions of giving Montreal more power. In an article titled Manifesto for a City State published recently in the journal Policy Options, he writes: “ … what Montreal needs is special treatment, more autonomy and more diverse sources of revenue. In short, it needs a premier who will stand on the balcony of City Hall and proclaim: “Vive Montréal! Vive Montréal libre!” On issues of both economy and identity, cleavages between Montreal and the rest of Quebec have been growing deeper. Although often dismissed as a pie-in-the-sky idea, I’m starting to see an increased momentum behind the idea of Montreal as its own city-state. As we head into an election, provincial parties would wise not to dismiss it out of hand. Twitter:@CooperCeline
  2. À quelques jours d'une probable élection au Québec, le gouvernement Charest annonce un investissement de plusieurs millions de dollars dans le secteur de l'économie sociale. Pour en lire plus...
  3. Bill Clinton aidera Obama à conquérir la présidence Associated Press Washington L'ancien président américain Bill Clinton a assuré mardi qu'il s'engage à faire tout son possible pour aider le candidat démocrate Barack Obama à conquérir la Maison Blanche. Il s'agit de sa première déclaration de soutien à celui qui fut le rival de son épouse depuis la fin des primaires. Click here to find out more! Les relations sont encore compliquées entre le dernier président démocrate du pays et celui qui ambitionne de devenir le prochain, qui ne se sont pas encore parlé après le retrait de Hillary Clinton de la course à la candidature. M. Clinton a cependant fait savoir par son porte-parole qu'il s'engagerait aux côtés de M. Obama. «Le président Clinton est évidemment prêt à faire tout ce qu'il peut et qu'on lui demande pour garantir que le sénateur Obama devienne le prochain président des Etats-Unis», a déclaré Matt McKenna. «Un parti démocrate uni sera une force puissante au service du changement cette année, et nous sommes confiants que le président Clinton jouera un rôle important», a réagi le porte-parole de M. Obama, Bill Burton. M. Clinton ne sera en revanche pas présent lors du meeting qui réunira son épouse et le candidat Obama dans le New Hampshire vendredi, étant en Europe à l'occasion de l'anniversaire de 90 ans de Nelson Mandela, a fait savoir M. McKenna.
  4. Poll Finds Faith in Obama, Mixed With Patience Article Tools Sponsored By By ADAM NAGOURNEY and MARJORIE CONNELLY Published: January 17, 2009 President-elect Barack Obama is riding a powerful wave of optimism into the White House, with Americans confident he can turn the economy around but prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. The latest on the inauguration of Barack Obama and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion. While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the poll found, expectations for what Mr. Obama will actually be able to accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s problems at home and abroad. The findings suggest that Mr. Obama has achieved some success with his effort, which began with his victory speech in Chicago in November, to gird Americans for a slow economic recovery and difficult years ahead after a campaign that generated striking enthusiasm and high hopes for change. Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer. As the nation prepares for a transfer of power and the inauguration of its 44th president, Mr. Obama’s stature with the American public stands in sharp contrast to that of President Bush. Mr. Bush is leaving office with just 22 percent of Americans offering a favorable view of how he handled the eight years of his presidency, a record low, and firmly identified with the economic crisis Mr. Obama is inheriting. More than 80 percent of respondents said the nation was in worse shape today than it was five years ago. By contrast, 79 percent were optimistic about the next four years under Mr. Obama, a level of good will for a new chief executive that exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents. And it cuts across party lines: 58 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said they were optimistic about the country in an Obama administration. “Obama is not a miracle worker, but I am very optimistic, I really am,” Phyllis Harden, 63, an independent from Easley, S.C., who voted for Mr. Obama, said in an interview after participating in the poll. “It’s going to take a couple of years at least to improve the economy,” Ms. Harden added. “I think anyone who is looking for a 90-day turnaround is delusional.” Politically, Mr. Obama enjoys a strong foundation of support as he enters what is surely to be a tough and challenging period, working with Congress to swiftly pass a huge and complicated economic package. His favorable rating, at 60 percent, is the highest it has been since the Times/CBS News poll began asking about him. Overwhelming majorities say they think that Mr. Obama will be a good president, that he will bring real change to Washington, and that he will make the right decisions on the economy, Iraq, dealing with the war in the Middle East and protecting the country from terrorist attacks. Over 70 percent said they approved of his cabinet selections. What is more, Mr. Obama’s effort to use this interregnum between Election Day and Inauguration Day to present himself as a political moderate (he might use the word “pragmatist”) appears to be working. In this latest poll, 40 percent described the president-elect’s ideology as liberal, a 17-point drop from just before the election. “I think those of us who voted for McCain are going to be a lot happier with Obama than the people who voted for him,” Valerie Schlink, 46, a Republican from Valparaiso, Ind., said in an interview after participating in the poll. “A lot of the things he said he would do, like pulling out the troops in 16 months and giving tax cuts to those who make under $200,000, I think he now sees are going to be a lot tougher than he thought and that the proper thing to do is stay more towards the middle and ease our way into whatever has to be done. “It can’t all be accomplished immediately.” While the public seems prepared to give Mr. Obama time, Americans clearly expect the country to be a different place when he finishes his term at the end of 2012. The poll found that 75 percent expected the economy to be stronger in four years than it is today, and 75 percent said Mr. Obama would succeed in creating a significant number of jobs, while 59 percent said he would cut taxes for the middle class. The survey found that 61 percent of respondents said things would be better in five years; last April, just 39 percent expressed a similar sentiment. The telephone survey of 1,112 adults was conducted Jan. 11-15. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The poll suggests some of the cross-currents Mr. Obama is navigating as he prepares to take office, and offers some evidence about why he has retooled some of his positions during this period.
  5. L’enjeu majeur de la prochaine élection américaine sera l’économie. C’est ce qu’affirme le magazine The Economist qui fait un parallèle avec l'élection de Clinton en 1992. Pour en lire plus...
  6. From the Economist ( I was reading it on my vacations, what a great read to kick start my vacations...) Charlemagne Among the dinosaurs France’s Socialists have yet to come to terms with the modern world Aug 27th 2011 | from the print edition BLISS is it in a financial crisis to be a socialist. Or so it ought to be. In speculators and ratings agencies, Europe’s left has a ready cast of villains and rogues. In simmering social discontent, it has an energising force. A recent issue of Paris-Match inadvertently captured the mood: page after full-colour page on Britain’s rioting underclass were followed by gory visual detail of the bling yachts crowding into the bay near Saint-Tropez. Time, surely, to put social inclusion before defiant decadence. The oddity is that almost everywhere the European left is in decline. Among the large countries, Socialist parties rule only in Spain, where they look likely to lose November’s election. The only big place where the left has a good chance of returning to power is France, at next spring’s presidential election. Yet France’s Socialist Party also stands out as Europe’s most unreconstructed. Hence the contorted spectacle of a party preparing for power at a time when the markets are challenging its every orthodoxy. For a hint of French Socialist thinking, consider recent comments from some of the candidates who will contest a primary vote in October. Ségolène Royal, who lost the 2007 presidential election to Nicolas Sarkozy, argued this week that stock options and speculation on sovereign debt should be banned. Denouncing “anarchic globalisation”, she called for human values to be imposed on financial ones, as a means of “carrying on the torch of a great country, France, which gave the world revolutionary principles about the emancipation of the people.” Ms Royal, believe it or not, is considered a moderate. To her left, Arnaud Montebourg, a younger, outwardly sensible sort, argues for “deglobalisation”. He wants to forbid banks from “speculating with clients’ deposits”, and to abolish ratings agencies. Financial markets want “to turn us into their poodle”, he lamented at a weekend fete in a bucolic village, celebrating the joys of la France profonde with copious bottles of burgundy. No one seems to have told him that there is a simple way to avoid the wrath of bond markets: balance your books and don’t borrow. Next to such patent nonsense, promises by the two front-running candidates, Martine Aubry and François Hollande, seem merely frozen in time, circa 1981. They want to return to retirement at the age of 60 (it has just been raised to 62), and to invent 300,000 public-sector youth jobs. Each supports Mr Sarkozy’s deficit-reduction targets, but refuses to approve his plan to write a deficit rule into the constitution. More taxes, not less spending, is their underlying creed. The party is not out of tune with public opinion. The French are almost uniquely hostile to the capitalist system that has made them one of the world’s richest people. Fully 57% say France should single-handedly erect higher customs barriers. The same share judge that freer trade with India and China, whose consumers snap up French silk scarves and finely stitched leather handbags, has been “bad” for France. The right has held the presidency since 1995 partly by pandering to such sentiments. The causes of French left-wingery are various, but a potent one is the lingering hold of Marxist thinking. Post-war politics on the left was for decades dominated by the Communist Party, which regularly scooped up a quarter of the votes. In the 1950s many intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, clung to pro-Soviet idealism even after the evils of Stalinism emerged. Others toyed with Trotskyism well into the 1970s. François Mitterrand, who mentored Ms Royal, Ms Aubry and Mr Hollande, was swept to the presidency in 1981 by offering a socialist Utopia as a third way between “the capitalist society which enslaves people” and the “communist society which stifles them”. Given such a tradition, it is possible that today’s Socialist leaders believe what they say. At any rate, there is a debate to be had about the right amount of market regulation and fiscal consolidation. Yet the problem with their promises is this: for every bit of conviction, there is a shameful share of pure posturing. In truth, France’s Socialists have often had to be pragmatic in power. As prime minister between 1997 and 2002 Lionel Jospin, himself an ex-Trotskyist, privatised more assets than any of his right-wing predecessors. Even Mitterrand was forced to abandon nationalisation and embrace austerity. Should the Socialists win in 2012, it would take them “about a month, or maybe a week” to confess that they “have no choice but to keep the deficit under control”, says one well-placed party figure. Retirement at 60? Nice idea but, quel dommage, we can’t afford it. Please allow us a moment of madness All this requires heroic faith among centrists considering voting Socialist that reason will triumph over fiscal folly. Moreover, experience suggests that the Socialists, if elected, may feel compelled to introduce some signature policy as a sop to their disappointed base. Under Mitterrand, it was the wealth tax. Under Mr Jospin, it was Ms Aubry’s 35-hour working week. With France’s recovery fragile, the prospect of more such lunacy is chilling. A further danger touches Europe, where France traditionally generates many ideas for integration. At a time when leaders are inching towards more economic co-ordination, with oversight of budgets and even tax harmonisation, a Socialist victory would put the shaping of such a project into uncertain hands. With Dominique Strauss-Kahn out of the running there is just one French Socialist primary candidate who understands all this. Manuel Valls, a deputy and mayor with a refreshingly modern view of the left, says Socialists are not being straight by promising retirement at 60. He dares utter such truths as “we need to tell the French that the [budgetary] effort…will be as great as that achieved after Liberation”. Alas, the 49-year-old Mr Valls is considered too young to be a serious contender. The day the paleo-Socialists of the Mitterrand generation allow such figures to emerge would be the dawn of a real revolution. http://www.economist.com/node/21526894
  7. The French election and business The terror The 75% tax and other alarming campaign promises Apr 7th 2012 | PARIS | from the print edition EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC, a bio-analytics firm, is the sort of enterprise that France boasts about. It is fast-growing, international and hungry to buy rivals. So people noticed when in March it decamped to Luxembourg. Observers reckon it was fleeing France’s high taxes. It will soon be joined by Sword Group, a successful software firm, which voted to move to Luxembourg last month. As France enters the final weeks of its presidential campaign, candidates are competing to promise new measures that would hurt business. François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, and the current favourite to win the second and final round on May 6th, has promised a top marginal income-tax rate of 75% for those earning over €1m ($1.3m). He has declared war on finance. If the Socialists win, he pledges, corporate taxes will rise and stock options will be outlawed. Other countries welcome global firms. “France seems to want to keep them out,” sighs Denis Kessler, the boss of SCOR, a reinsurer. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an even leftier candidate than Mr Hollande, has been gaining ground. Communists marched to the Bastille on March 18th to support him. The right offers little solace. Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent, is unpopular partly because of his perceived closeness to fat cats. To distance himself, he has promised a new tax on French multinationals’ foreign sales. If Mr Hollande wins, he may water down his 75% income-tax rate. But it would be difficult to back away from such a bold, public pledge. And doing business in France is hard enough without such uncertainty. Companies must cope with heavy social charges, intransigent unions and political meddling. The 35-hour work week, introduced in 2000, makes it hard to get things done. Mr Hollande says he will reverse a measure Mr Sarkozy introduced to dilute its impact by exempting overtime pay from income tax and social charges. The 75% income-tax rate is dottier than a pointilliste painting. When other levies are added, the marginal rate would top 90%. In parts of nearby Switzerland, the top rate is around 20%. French firms are already struggling to hire foreign talent. More firms may leave. Armand Grumberg, an expert in corporate relocation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a law firm, says that several big companies and rich families are looking at ways to leave France. At a recent lunch for bosses of the largest listed firms, the main topic was how to get out. Investment banks and international law firms would probably be the first to go, as they are highly mobile. Already, the two main listed banks, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, are facing queries from investors about Mr Hollande’s plan to separate their retail arms from investment banking. He has also vowed to hike the corporate tax on banks from 33% to nearly 50%. In January Paris launched a new €120m ($160m) “seed” fund to attract hedge funds. Good luck with that. Last month Britain promised to cut its top tax rate from 50% to 45%. No financial centre comes close to Mr Hollande’s 75% rate (see chart). Large firms will initially find it hard to skedaddle. Those with the status ofsociété anonyme, the most common, need a unanimous vote from shareholders. But the European Union’s cross-border merger directive offers an indirect route: French firms can merge with a foreign company. Big groups also have the option of moving away the substance of their operations, meaning decision-making and research and development. Last year, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, the boss of Schneider Electric, an energy-services company, moved with his top managers to run the firm from Hong Kong (where the top tax rate is 15%). For now, the firm’s headquarters and tax domicile remain in France. But for how long? Pressure to leave could come from foreign shareholders, says Serge Weinberg, the chairman of Sanofi, a drugmaker. “American, German or Middle Eastern shareholders will not tolerate not being able to get the best management because of France’s tax regime,” he says. At the end of 2010, foreign shareholders held 42% of the total value of the firms in the CAC 40, the premier French stock index. That is higher than in many other countries. It is not clear whether the 75% tax rate would apply to capital gains as well as income. As with most of the election campaign’s anti-business pledges, the detail has been left vague. Mr Sarkozy has offered various definitions of what he means by “big companies”, which would have to pay his promised new tax. Some businessfolk therefore hope that the most onerous pledges will be quietly ditched once the election is over. But many nonetheless find the campaign alarming. French politicians not only seem to hate business; they also seem to have little idea how it actually works. The most debilitating effects of all this may be long-term. Brainy youngsters have choices. They can find jobs or set up companies more or less anywhere. The ambitious will risk their savings, borrow money and toil punishing hours to create new businesses that will, in turn, create jobs and new products. But they will not do this for 25% (or less) of the fruits of their labour. Zurich is only an hour away; French politics seem stuck in another century. http://www.economist.com/node/21552219
  8. La compagnie a mis en garde ses cadres sur les conséquences d'une élection du candidat démocrate à la Maison-Blanche, craignant un renforcement des syndicats. Pour en lire plus...
  9. Salmond : No safe seat for Labour in Scotland The Scotsman samedi 26 juillet 2008 ALEX Salmond yesterday claimed there was no safe Labour seat left in Scotland as the full impact of the SNP’s sensational victory in Glasgow East emerged. The First Minister issued what amounted to a battle cry, suggesting the SNP would be unstoppable after ousting Labour from its third-safest seat. If the 22 per cent by-election swing was replicated across Scotland in a general election, it would leave just one of Labour’s 39 MPs in place – Tom Clarke in Coatbridge – with casualties including Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and Chancellor Alistair Darling. The scale of the defeat piled further pressure on Mr Brown, who faced demands from Paul Kenny, the leader of the GMB union, and the Labour back-bench critic Graham Stringer, to consider his position. David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, said the defeat showed the country was desperate for change and challenged Mr Brown to call a general election after the summer. But Mr Brown refused to budge, saying he was "getting on with the job" while again trying to empathise with voters about the soaring cost of bread and eggs. Simple arithmetic shows that the SNP would have 49 MPs, the Liberal Democrats seven, the Tories one and Labour one if Labour’s vote collapsed in a similar manner at a general election. The calculation excludes the Glasgow seat currently held by the Commons Speaker, Michael Martin. As for what the result would mean if replicated in a Holyrood election, a source close to Mr Salmond said : "We are still doing our calculations, but there is no doubt that the swing last night would wipe out all Labour’s constituency MSPs. "They would receive some list MSPs in compensation for the proportion of their vote … but there is no doubt that we would be by far the largest party, although not necessarily in a majority." By-elections are unreliable indicators of future governments and success can often be short-lived. Of the four SNP by-election victories prior to the success of John Mason in Glasgow East, all but one failed to hold the seat at the subsequent general election. However, Mr Salmond yesterday maintained that Glasgow East’s voters had been in a "unique" situation. Rather than having a choice between a government and opposition, for the first time they were able to weigh the merits of two parties in power – Labour at Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood. There was also the belief among many Labour loyalists that their party had become "arrogant" and needed to be given a sharp kick, he told The Scotsman. "We have now demonstrated that there are no safe seats for the Labour party anywhere in Scotland," he said. "They used to say that it was the Tories who could only get one MP in Scotland." Several other factors also give the Nationalists hope that they are on the cusp of smashing Labour’s historic dominance in Scotland – and in particular in Glasgow. They point to the fact that the Glasgow East result was the first recent victory against a Labour government. In 1995 in Perth and Kinross, the Tories were in power at Westminster, as they were during the Govan victories of 1973 and 1988. It was only with the SNP’s first by-election victory in 1967 that it defeated a candidate representing a UK Labour government. Then there is Thursday’s turnout. At 42 per cent, it was only six percentage points short of the 48 per cent at the 2005 general election. This gives credence to the argument that electors would vote the same way in the next general election, due by June 2010. Labour could face an earlier test as Jack McConnell, an MSP and former first minister, will be forced to stand down from his Motherwell and Wishaw seat if his posting as High Commissioner of Malawi is activated next year as expected. Then there is the promised referendum vote in 2010, a year before the next elections to the Scottish Parliament. Roseanna Cunningham, who achieved the last SNP by- election victory when she took Perth and Kinross in 1995, said the benefits to the party this time were likely to be greater. This would be seen most obviously by an increase in younger supporters and a boost in membership. Asked what the victory would mean for the SNP’s hopes of ending decades of Labour dominance and driving forward its aim of independence, Ms Cunningham said : "What we can take from (the by-election] at an absolute minimum is that scaremongering about independence simply doesn’t work. That is the difference from between five or ten years ago. That is another sign you can’t simply frighten people away from voting SNP." Labour’s search for a new leader in the Scottish Parliament starts on Monday, following the resignation of Wendy Alexander, and many believe the amateurish attempts to canvass support in a supposedly rock-solid constituency – with imported teenage activists getting lost on a daily basis – showed the absence of a grass-roots organisation. However, Des Browne, Labour’s Scottish Secretary, said it was nonsense to suggest that a by-election result could be used as a guide to future voting intentions across the country. He said voters had wanted to register a protest against high prices caused by world economic conditions, and said Labour was already working to re-establish support in Glasgow. However, he did concede that it was a "significantly bad result". But he compared Glasgow East to the 1999 Hamilton South by-election, which Labour held by just 556 votes from an SNP charge with a virtually identical swing to Thursday. "I remember the SNP issued a press release, which my local paper carried, saying they were about to sweep me away on the basis of that," he said. "It wasn’t replicated at the general election and I have defended that seat twice since then."
  10. MONTREAL — Monday’s CBC-Ekos poll found that 42 per cent of 1,001 Quebec anglophone respondents have considered leaving the province following last September’s Parti Québécois election victory. Promising them anonymity, I asked two anglos who are exceptionally familiar with this attitude for their thoughts. One of them, a natural-resources executive, is himself leaving Quebec this month. This born-and-bread Montrealer earns $300,000 to $500,000 most years, which puts him in top one per cent of income earners. He’s the sort of person whom students wearing the red square regard with suspicion while demanding that he pay higher taxes to help finance their entitlements. But they won’t get his help any more. His furniture is being shipped next week. Several months ago — after the PQ victory — he turned down an offer to become president of a natural-resources company working in Labrador. The reason: “The owners wanted me to live in Montreal.” What’s wrong with that? Primarily the taxes, he says. The fiscal crunch was bad enough when the Liberals were in power — Quebec in 2012 ranked second in Canada (after Newfoundland and Labrador) for combined local, provincial and federal taxes. When he earned half a million dollars in stock options several years ago, Quebec took 39 per cent in taxes. Ontario would have taken 30 per cent. So that’s where he’s moving — eastern Ontario. He’ll wave goodbye to the sovereignty threat and the income-tax hike that the Marois government imposed on Jan. 1. (It brings the rate for people earning $100,000 or more to 25.75 per cent from 24 per cent.) Was language also factor? No and yes, he says. No because he’s fluently bilingual — he’s a fan of French TV. “The anglos who left Quebec for language left a generation ago,” he says. “The rest of us learned French.” But, yes, the linguistic climate is still aggravating. The vigorous 60-year-old owns a modest natural-resources firm in Africa, and hates having to communicate to the Quebec government on corporate matters in French. What also rankles is how ordinary people — a cable technician visiting his West Island home, for example, or a security scanner at Trudeau — sometimes refuse to speak in English. “I feel like a foreigner in my own country.” Also weighing in his decision to leave is the PQ’s hesitation to push forward quickly with Plan Nord. His company’s employees are in Africa, not here, so no one is losing a job. But this most indebted of provinces is losing his considerable tax revenue — and that of others whom, he says, are likewise trickling into Ontario or into northern New York State. His parting thoughts. “The government needs to cut expenditures, cut tax rates and mean it when it says it is open for business.” It also has to grasp that the Internet makes for mobility. “Members of my board of directors live on different continents, and I hold board meeting from my home on Skype. Nothing keeps me in Quebec.” Moral: “The government has to make people want to live here.” Now there’s a radical thought. Sharing it is my second interviewee. He’s a partner in the Montreal office of a headhunting firm with operations in dozens of countries. This veteran recruiter of executive talent for local companies says, “Montreal has a shallow talent pool, and it’s become shallower since the PQ’s election. “The problem is not just that anglos are leaving Quebec — they’ve been leaving for years and years. The problem is also that we’ve built a great big fence around Quebec that effectively keeps outside talent out. Any dynamic economy has to cross-fertilize with other cities and bring in new talent.” The election has made that tougher. He estimates that 20 to 30 per cent of Americans whom his firm approaches now consider the city, at least at first view. Yet only 10 per cent of Canadians from other provinces do. Why the difference? “Canadians are more aware of conditions here.” He sighs: “I try to put a positive spin on coming here — I talk about the opportunity to learn French and the joie de vivre.” But the barriers to entry are imposing. Like the Ontario-bound executive, he says that, despite the low cost of living here, taxes are the No. 1 deterrent. No. 2 is Bill 101’s restriction on access to English schools. Other handicaps: the difficulty in obtaining social services in English, the shrinking size of the English community (which reduces the options on where some newcomers want to live) and, not least, the problems that two-income families encounter. Many executives’ spouses are lawyers, doctors, accountants or dentists, for example, and they cannot pursue their careers without passing French-proficiency tests. To be sure, these problems existed before the election. “But,” he says, “before the vote we had a government that at least was pro-business and sought political stability. Now we have a government that’s pro-socialism and is in effect pro-instability.” The bottom line: “Quebec is being starved for intellectual capital.” It’s a vicious circle: As Quebec loses talent it becomes more difficult to attract talent, and so more businesses leave and there is less demand for talent. It’s déjà vu: We saw far more intense versions of this scenario after the 1976 election of the PQ and the 1995 referendum. And if that history is any guide, we know that PQ sees the starvation of that capital as a worthwhile price to pay when pushing for sovereignty. Expect no relief. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Henry+Aubin+Taxes+Bill+drive+people+away/7981947/story.html#ixzz2LMmH4Xdi
  11. Le renouvellement perpétuel qui se passe dans les 50 états et milliers de villes que forment les USA. State of renewal The federal government could learn some lessons from the states Jun 2nd 2012 | from the print edition THE American political system, as all the world thinks it knows, is gridlocked, not to mention dysfunctional and broken. The tea-maddened Republicans who seized control of the House of Representatives are holding Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate to ransom, refusing either to balance the federal budget or to pass any of the administration’s legislation without first getting swingeing cuts in taxes for the rich and in aid for the poor. In the White House Mr Obama is too busy planning his re-election to govern, while the economy races towards a “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect on January 1st next year unless they can find consensus; that seems more elusive than at any time since the end of the civil war. All true, up to a point; but not the whole story. Across America, most obviously in the battered Midwest and the property-busted sunnier climes of Florida and Nevada, a turnaround is under way. Thank many things for that: lower energy prices, recovering demand in at least a few places abroad, exceptionally loose monetary policy at home and the effects of the stimulus that Mr Obama was able to push through Congress before he lost control of it at the 2010 mid-terms. But also thank the fact that gridlock in Washington does not mean gridlock in the real drivers of America’s prosperity, its 50 competing states and its hundreds of self-governing cities. It is in those states and those cities that America is endlessly renewing itself. It is at city and state level, for instance, that America’s education system is being rewired, thanks to the independent or “charter” school revolution that was pioneered in places as diverse as New York City and Texas and is growing all the time. Experiments with health care in states as far apart in every way as Utah and Massachusetts pre-dated anything done at the federal level. A clutch of new Republican governors elected at those mid-terms have been driving forward the reform of the public sector, often controversially but in the long-term interest of their states. In Republican Indiana Mitch Daniels, the governor, has made his state the only one in the Midwest to ban the closed shop; other states in the region may have to do the same if they don’t want to be left behind. And, it bears repeating, since states and cities are not supposed to run deficits, it is at these levels that most progress has been made in restoring public finances. Jon Kasich, the new Republican governor of Ohio, for instance, has made up an $8 billion shortfall while cutting taxes. A number of states, mostly Republican ones, have “rainy-day funds” which saw them through the worst of the post-Lehman storm, though the federal government also helped a lot. Slashing red tape and opening government to inspection by the public by means of “sunshine laws” have also played their part; here again, the record of Republican states has been better than Democratic ones. California, for the eighth year in a row, has just been voted the worst state in which to do business, with New York (also strongly Democratic) a close second, thanks to high taxes and excessive regulation. According to Chief Executive magazine, which did the survey, all top ten spots are held by Republican states, with Texas in the lead. As we report here, a feature of the past year or so of the recovery is that among the dozen “swing states” that will determine the outcome of the election, unemployment has fallen by more than the national average. You might think that this is bad news for Mr Romney: his pitch is that Mr Obama has failed to sort out the economy and that he can do better. Actually, it is potentially good news for the man who this week clinched his nomination with a spectacular victory in Texas. Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, probably the five states most critical to the election, are all run by new small-government Republican deficit hawks. Mr President, learn from your enemies The newcomers do not deserve all the credit, of course. The bail-out of the car industry, for instance, was what saved Michigan. Yet Mr Obama should take note. Sound public finances, opening up government, taking on unions, privatising services: the mid-terms showed that there is a great appetite in America for these right-of-centre remedies. http://www.economist.com/node/21556247
  12. Let us decide its own cultural priorities, Charest says Quebec premier calls for reversal of arts funding cuts KEVIN DOUGHERTY, The Gazette Published: 8 hours ago (The Gazette)
  13. Jay Baruchel flew the flag at a Just for Laughs gala in 2013, but the longtime Montrealer now admits that part of the reason behind his move to Toronto is that "Quebec’s politics did my head in." Peter McCabe / Montreal Gazette files SHARE ADJUST COMMENT PRINT Jay Baruchel has been a relentless booster of his hometown in general and his ‘hood of N.D.G. in particular, for years telling anyone who would listen that he would never move to L.A. even though so much of his work brought him to Tinseltown. Well, things have changed, as Bob Dylan so succinctly put it. Baruchel has moved to Toronto, for work and personal reasons. Here he talks about what prompted him to do what so many anglo Montrealers have done in the past four decades and make the move down the 401. RELATED Jay Baruchel will roll with the punches in Goon sequel Montreal Gazette: So you’ve made the move to Toronto? Jay Baruchel: I’ll be perfectly honest: I’ve kind of moved here for a while. MG: I did hear rumours. Advertisement JB: I just bought a house here. There’s a few contributing reasons, not the least of which is between the movie (Goon: Last of the Enforcers, Baruchel’s upcoming feature directorial debut) and my TV show (Man Seeking Woman), I was here as of September, then shot to Christmas, went home (to Montreal) for about a month and a half, and then I’ve been here since. There’s going to be basically a month between the end of the shoot of our movie and the start of Season 2 of Man Seeking Woman, so I’m going to be here a s—load. And I won’t lie — Quebec’s politics did my head in. My mom calls it a five-year plan. I’m giving it five years to try to live somewhere else. I’ve never done it, really. MG: Yeah, because we’ve talked about this for years, ever since we’ve known each other. You were basically couch-surfing when working in Los Angeles and you always said you didn’t want to move to L.A. JB: And I didn’t. MG: So what happened? JB: A few things happened. I realized that not only did I not hate it in Toronto, but I quite like it here. I was bred to hate it. My parents fed me with all the Montreal anglo stuff — the “it’s where we go to die” stuff. But I also realized I had never spent that much time here. It was when I was here two or three winters ago doing RoboCop, I had a lot of time off and I realized I’d never spent more than five days in a row here. Between that and doing the TV show and a lot of my friends living here, I won’t lie — I fell in love with it a bit here. It’s just a bit of an easier place to live than back home. The last election was very traumatic in a way. MG: Why? JB: I was faced with a truth: I either will just swallow it and make peace with it, like I always have, that this is part and parcel of what it is to live in Montreal, the political climate as it is. It was either shut up or move. It was untenable. It was my fault if I keep living someplace that keeps giving me a headache. MG: Well, obviously the Liberals won that provincial election. So what I take from that is that separation, the referendum, was one of the big issues in that election, and it’ll be a big issue in the next provincial campaign, and you can’t deal with that anymore. JB: And it always will be. Aside from that silly stuff, which I wish would just go away but it won’t, it was less that than the kind of poisonous ethnic dialogue, which really, really left a sour taste in my mouth. It didn’t feel like the place that Mom wanted me to live in. She wanted me to grow up in someplace multicultural and to see every complexion of the world on the street, and to hear all the languages, and for that not to be a defeat or a sacrifice, but a good thing and a strength. You come here and it really is a pretty diverse place. Just some of the issues, some of the editorial subject matter in Quebec — it’s from 100 years in the past, man. I wake up here and I’m just a dude in a city. And when I go outside and speak English, it’s not a loaded or political deed of any kind. I’m just living. There’s just way less headaches here. Everything is a bit easier here. MG: I realized after spending a fair bit of time in Toronto myself that it’s not such a bad place, and I came to the conclusion that the Montrealers complaining the most about Toronto are people who haven’t been there since 1974. JB: That’s it. It’s not Toronto the Good anymore. It hasn’t been that for a long time. Also, the other thing is, if I want to put my money where my mouth is and be a filmmaker in Canada, as opposed to the States, I gotta be honest and realize that the vast majority of the ideas I have are in English, and that’s why it makes much more sense for me to be here. That being said, I still have my house in Montreal, and so I’ll always keep one foot in N.D.G. It might just turn into a pied-à-terre, but I’ll always have one foot there. That’s the other thing I realized: I don’t have a particular (passion) for the province of Quebec. I have a great deal of love for Montreal, but really, more than anything, it’s just my neighbourhood — it’s just N.D.G. So I miss that, but it happens to be located in a pretty difficult part of the world. MG: Obviously you’re a Leafs fan now? JB: Oh, f— you. That’s part of the fun of being here — being part of the Habs expat scene. It’s massive. Once upon a time you were scared to wear Habs s— in Toronto, and we just run this town now. There’s just nothing they can say. Very sad. :mtl:
  14. Montreal’s economic development lags behind that of other Canadian cities and it needs greater political and economic powers to turn around its sagging fortunes, says a new study. It’s time to realize that Montreal is a motor of the Quebec economy that contributes more than it gets back, said BMO President L. Jacques Ménard, the chancellor of Concordia University. He unveiled the 162-page study by BMO Financial Group, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group, on Tuesday. “Montreal finances more than half of the public spending across Quebec, even, in fact, the Colisée,” said Ménard, referring to controversial plans to build a new arena in Quebec City. Yet Canada’s second-biggest city has no more powers than small towns like Ste-Adèle or Mascouche, Ménard said. Forced to rely on property taxes to finance repairs to its crumbling infrastructure, Montreal needs to be recognized and promoted as Quebec’s metropolis, he said. “We have to get away from the unfortunate idea, I think, that wrongly presents the development of Montreal as being antithetical to that of the regions,” he said. With slow population growth, stagnating personal income and sagging economic growth, Montreal has lost 20 per cent of its major head offices in 20 years, the report noted. A comparison with five other Canadian cities shows that Montreal’s GDP grew by only 37 per cent over the past 15 years, compared to 59 per cent on average for Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver. Montreal’s population only grew by 16 per cent compared to 33 per cent for the other cities. Unemployment remains at about 8.5 per cent in Montreal compared to 6.3 per cent in the other cities. And Montrealers’ disposable income has risen by only 51 per cent in 15 years, compared to 87 per cent for residents of the other five cities. “It has to do with the lack of us trying to create a milieu where ideas, people and technology conjugate to create innovation and to contribute to what you could call the new economy,” Ménard said. “One has to try and imagine what is Montreal going to look like 10 years from now? What are the new things we’re going to be doing and exporting that we’re not doing today?” he asked. For solutions, the report looked to seven world cities that have successfully regenerated their economies after going through periods of decline. They are Boston, Manchester, Melbourne, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle. Researchers identified strategies all of the successful cities used to become more competitive in the global economy, Ménard said. They included strong municipal leadership, support from higher levels of government, centres of excellence that acted as catalysts for growth, improved quality of life and transportation, a focus on human capital at universities and colleges, and development of a strong identity or brand for the city. With its effervescent cultural scene, cultural diversity, cheap rents and key industries like aerospace, technology and medical research, Montreal has enormous potential to thrive, the report said. Ménard said one way to achieve that potential is to unleash the talent and expertise concentrated in its five universities (including the Longueuil campus of the Université de Sherbrooke) instead of treating institutions of higher learning simply as service centres. “Montreal is a revolving door,” he said, noting the city loses as many residents as it gains. Even though the city has a huge student population, it retains few graduates because most leave in search of better opportunities, the report found. Corruption scandals and the divisive debate over the charter of values also make the city a less attractive and welcoming place, it said. Researchers interviewed more than 50 community leaders from a variety of fields, including cultural industries, education, finance, industry, health, community organizations, politics and technology to delve into challenges facing the city. Ménard emphasized the initiative is non-partisan and said it was only a coincidence that the report, which was 18 months in the making, is coming out just before a provincial election campaign. Premier Pauline Marois is expected to call an election in the coming days or weeks. “They say coincidences can be lucky. If the revitalization of Montreal is part of the debate in the coming weeks, I think it will be good for Quebec,” he said. Ménard said Montreal is sorely neglected by other levels of government. “When you look at the Champlain Bridge, the Turcot Interchange, the state of our roads, I don’t think they would have tolerated that in Ottawa, or in Quebec City, or even in Toronto,” he said. He said he hopes Montreal will be front and centre in the coming election campaign. “If they mention the word Montreal more than 100 times, I’m going to break out the champagne because it doesn’t happen very often,” he said. Ménard said he hopes to rally citizens from all walks of life to join the effort to revitalize the city. A public meeting is planned for June 13 at the Palais des Congrès and will include people from business, higher education, social agencies, the arts and youth organizations. Mayor Denis Coderre said he fully support the initiative and will do all he can to achieve the dream of putting Montreal back on the road to prosperity. “I’m inspired today,” he said. [email protected] You can download the report, in French, here: http://www.bmo.com/ci/files/Creer_un_nouvel_elan_a_Montreal.pdf « PREVIOUS 1 2 View as one page NEXT » © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette