There are a number of challenges that Quebec will have to face in the coming years. The Quebec Liberal Party’s Interim Leader, Mr. Pierre Arcand, seized the opportunity presented by the upcoming election campaign to solicit help from the various political parties on the federal scene to support Quebec as it faces these challenges.
The agricultural sector is currently going through a significant period of transformation and uncertainty due to recent international trade agreements with Europe and Asia. The Quebec Liberal Party has always been supportive of these types of agreements that open new borders to our farmers. The farmers cannot, however, be on the losing end of the bargain and the federal government must ensure that compensation is offered for the possible losses that are generated.
The federal government made a first step by announcing $1.75B of funding over 8 years to support dairy farmers. Work still needs to be done as this assistance will not be enough to absorb the farmers’ losses which are estimated at $450M per year, and there is nothing included for processors.
The trade dispute between China and Canada is also worrisome for Quebec’s agricultural sector. Grain and pork farmers are heavily impacted by this situation. The federal government needs to commit to compensating them for their losses, otherwise the consequences for our farmers will be disastrous.
Taxing Internet Giants
The parliamentary committee on the future of media which took place last week led to the consensus that Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (GAFAM) need to pay taxes like everyone else. As it stands, these giants benefit from information produced by Quebec media without having to pay them a single cent. It is unfair and unjust.
The former Minister of Finance, Carlos J. Leitão, was able to ensure that Netflix pays Quebec Sales Tax (QST). The federal government could do the same, they just need to show firm political will to deal with this issue.
Increase Funding for Public Transportation
The climate emergency will undoubtedly be an important aspect of the federal campaign. If they are serious about wanting to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) parties need to commit to increasing their investments to public transportation.
The transportation sector is the main producer of greenhouse gas emissions so naturally we need to reduce the number of cars on our roads and encourage people to use public transit. To succeed, we have to provide the consumer with an interesting offer.
A number of projects are on the table in Quebec, for example the light-rail train in Gatineau and high frequency train between Quebec City and Windsor to which the federal government could quickly commit.
Readjusting Health Transfers
The aging of Quebec’s population will create increased pressure on the health system. Despite this reality, the federal government has decreased its health contribution over the last few years. Quebec’s shortfall is estimated at $14B over 10 years. The transfers need to be readjusted to their previous levels, that is to say 25% of the total expenses.
Strengthen the Rules for Identity Theft
The theft of millions of Quebecers’ personal information this summer made the importance of improving security clearer than ever. The current sentences associated with this type of theft are not sufficiently severe.
The criminal code needs to be revised so that the sentences associated with financial crimes are increased and therefore have a real dissuasive effect. The events that occurred over these last months demonstrate the urgent need to take action and protect the public.
The federal election campaign will be called at any moment and now is the ideal time to make Quebec’s priorities known. The demands that we have made are directly linked with the realities Quebecers are facing. It is because we want what is best for the population that we have called upon all of the different political parties. The federal government cannot put off taking action in the sectors we have brought to their attention. Now is the time for them to show that they understand Quebec’s reality. It’s time to walk the talk.
–Pierre Arcand, Leader of the Official Opposition and Interim Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party