Why Quebec Should Be Selfish AND Save Itself Billions

quebec.jpgBy Don R. Campbell

Fact #1: Quebec’s oil imports totalled $13-billion at the end of last year. They represent more than 60 per cent of the province’s $21-billion trade deficit, according to Institut de la Statistique du Québec figures.

Fact #2: Billions of dollars are projected in savings if Quebec refiners switch to Alberta oil.

Logical Extrapolation of Selfishness: Let’s think this one through a bit, shall we?

“Billions of dollars are projected in savings for Quebecers if Quebec refiners switch to Alberta oil.” OK, so buying Alberta oil would reduce trade deficit substantially AND save tax payers billions of dollars. Sounds like a logical choice. But let’s take it further to see where it begins to get even BETTER for Quebec than the initial savings: 

We begin with the irony that those “billions of dollars saved” are actually dollars they receive in equalization transfer dollars that originated in Western Canada (just like the energy would). Now, put aside however you feel about that program for a second and consider the logic that the Quebec government should be considering.

Oops, I know logic and government in same sentence often don’t coincide, but let’s give it a go. If the Quebec government wants to be strategic, selfish and get re-elected, then the strategy would be to make the brave decision to buy Alberta oil. Then Quebec will receive more free money in equalization payments from Western Canada due to the increased income Alberta would receive from the oil.

This means that not only would they save money and reduce their trade deficit – they’d also receive even more money into the government “general revenues” to support their other programs. The more they buy, the more money they get. This is instead of them handing this money to regimes around the world who limit human rights, suppress women, foster violence and have very few environmental rules. In other words, Quebec would show themselves as world leaders by making this decision AND promoting it that way – thus making it an easy re-election platform. A true win/win/win. How is this then not the logical choice for Quebec? We don’t know. Let’s hope that logic wins.

Here are the details on the forecast report on “Billions in Savings”.

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