In Quebec, we have often done things differently. Our recent history is filled with great, even bold, triumphs. The nationalization of Quebec's hydroelectric power, the implementation of the CEGEP system, and the development of a childcare services network are but three examples.
The make-up of Quebec society is characterized not only by its strong solidarity, but also by its social programs and public insurance plans that are more advanced than in the rest of North America. These characteristics are such that they offer a comparative advantage for companies wanting to do business in Quebec.
However, when we look more deeply into our collective roots, we also find a history of colonization and of resource exploitation for the benefit of others. The days when Duplessis was selling iron ore for a penny per ton are not so long ago. Our natural resources are still being sold at bargain prices to corporations abroad, only to return here as finished products.
The Plan Nord, launched last May by the Quebec government, is both disconcerting and promising at once. On the one hand, the project seems exciting, offering a ray of hope for the employment situation in a fragile global economy.
However, the concerns are also real. Are we being paid a fair share for our non-renewable resources? Will Quebec's population benefit as a whole? Are we maximizing the economic benefits available? What are we leaving to future generations?
Greed has raised its ugly head and the government is prepared to move heaven and earth to attract investors to exploit our resources. But is it looking ahead to the long-term consequences of this strategy?
Development with vision means ensuring that all Quebecers will benefit from mining development in Quebec, through the creation of jobs, positive economic spinoffs, increased tax revenues and a better quality of life.
Development with vision means going beyond the political refrains, thinking of all Quebecers no matter where they live, and building a better future for Quebecers. It means maximizing the use of our resources to create quality jobs. And it means making sure that the profits stemming from these natural resources are used to help fund the social programs and the government missions that make Quebec stand out from the rest of North America.