Weekly Commentary  

A tale of more than two cities

Ever wonder if people in Quebec's towns and cities are radically different from those in BC?

Okay, okay, I won't be naïve. On the really big issues of life, I know there are some things between us that will never change. Like the fact that the percentage of consenting adults in Quebec who choose of their own free will to cheer for the Canadiens will always be hugely larger than the percentage of Hab fans here in Lotus Land.

Aside from those irreconcilable chasms which yawn between our two great provinces, are the gut issues really all that different? I had yet another opportunity to be confronted with that question this week.

On Friday I had the honour of addressing the elected reps of all BC municipalities and regional districts at their Annual Convention in Vancouver.

Then, on Saturday I was equally privileged to be in La Belle Province in St. Sauveur to speak at the 100th Anniversary of the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce.

The representatives of both groups work hard to reflect the views of 'The Streets' and 'The Rural Routes' of their respective provinces. By the way, in case any of you are wondering whether your local reps work hard at these annual out-of-town meetings, I can tell you, they do.

I get to see them in action speaking up for you and attending the sessions on your behalf. Yes, even the early morning workshops and presentations. They are there.

I chatted with people like Mayor Dan Ashton and Dan Albas from the south of our riding to keeners like Westside's Doug Findlater and Carol Zanon and Shelley Sanders in the north and everybody in between (apologies to the long list I didn't mention).

And guess what I heard in the hallways and the meeting rooms at both events before and after my presentations?

“Keep our taxes low. Don't bury us with over-regulation. Keep those infrastructure bucks coming. Don't let the deficit get out of control. Take care of the unemployed, but don't coddle abusers of our social programs.”
Oh, and one more recurring theme "We do NOT need another federal election right now."

These two groups met 4,890 kilometers apart and spoke in two different languages. It was reassuring to hear first hand, yet again, that the concerns and anxieties, the hopes and dreams of Canadians across the Great Divide are strikingly similar. Equally reassuring was the fact that our programs at the federal level largely (I didn't say 'perfectly') address those issues.

Don't take my word for that. The International Monetary Fund recently reported Canada leads the major industrial countries in being best prepared going into the global downturn and coming out of it.

The OECD says we've got the most competitive tax structure in the G-8.
And the World Economic Forum continues to report that we have the most stable banking system in the world. Add to that the release of last week's employment figures. It's true we are still suffering from the effects of the global downturn. However, for the first time in 30 years our unemployment numbers are lower than those in the US.

I'm not saying we've got it all figured out. We don't. There's still stuff that needs work and improvement. But on these big issues, the ones I heard about in both provinces within a 24-hour period, we seem to be on the right track.

So we'll keep listening to these groups and their representatives like BC’s outgoing UBCM President Robert Hobson and Quebec's Francine Bertrand.

Why? Because after all, they're simply telling us what they're hearing from the severely normal citizens they deal with every day.

So be assured we'll keep taking our marching orders from the "Streets and Rural Routes."

Oh, and did I mention, they do NOT want a federal election.

P.S. - A travel hint for BCers. The St. Sauveur region in the Laurentians, north of Montreal is a spectacular place this time of year with the autumn leaves in full blazing colour. Val did the two hour drive from Ottawa with me. She said "OK, it was worth having to share our 38th anniversary with the Quebec Chamber just to be able to experience the stunning beauty of a Laurentian fall." (And of course, being with me, I’m sure she meant to add.)

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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