From sql*kitten's journal:
In Italy, the productive North wants independance from the idle South. In Belgium, the hard-working Flemings want to split from the lazy and debt-ridden Walloons. And it cannot be long now before the support grows among the decent folk of the South East for independance from the dead wood in the rest of Britain.
Canada has set up a system in order to, as he put it, 'redistribute the wealth', called 'transfer payments'. The richer provinces pay a certain amount of money, based on their GDP, to the federal government, and that money goes to support the poorer provinces.
Result: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and BC are paying to support the Atlantic provinces. The money that Alberta earns (and Alberta is freaking rich) goes to pay Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, who apparantly have been pissing it down the drain. When I got to Nova Scotia, I was appalled. There are 50 km sections of paved road (in many places) that has crumbled so bad that gravel or dirt would be preferable. There is a dearth of culture, and layer upon layer of bureaucracy (a friend who works at the local tourist attraction can look forward to weeks of waiting for authorization if he wants to run a perl script on the web server). It's sadly mismanaged, and it's mismanaged with my tax money.
I'm not a fan of the whole separatist ideal - Canada is Canada, it's a family of provinces and I think we should stick together. Still, I'm tired of these provinces being a sinkhole for money that goes only to support the welfare bums of Cape Breton and Newfoundland. I'm not surprised Alberta is talking of separating, really.
The Atlantic provinces hardly hold their own weight, and it's not just hard luck either. The fishermen in Newfoundland knew ten years ago that cod stocks were running drastically low. Yet last month, when the cod fisheries were closed, putting hundreds out of work, it was as if it was some kind of surprise injustice, as if they hadn't been told this would happen ten years ago. But did they listen? Did they bother to look around and try to figure out something new they could do? No, they continued fishing as much as they could, buying $300,000 homes, yachts, cars, and everything else, and now that there's no fish, they're crying to the government about it.
Nova Scotia has discovered huge oil reserves. So they decided that they should be developed. However, since they were too goddamn stupid about it, they sold the rights to a New Brunswick company. Now half the houses in Fredericton have Natural Gas, the most efficient way to heat a modern home. In Nova Scotia, where the pipeline was built, no one has anything. New Brunswick is getting rich, and Nova Scotia is sitting around whining about it.
But don't think New Brunswick is full of geniuses. The federal fisheries minister lowered day quotas on crab fishing, so people aren't allowed to haul up as much. The reaction? The crab fishermen decided to go on strike. They weren't going to haul anything up. In fact, they prevented anyone else from going out there too, so no crab were getting fished. They didn't realize, however, that if they don't bring in crab, they don't get paid. So what do they do? The logical thing: riot. Though no one was injured, four boats, three belonging to the government and one belonging to the Big Cove First Nation, were torched. Along with that, they burned down one of the three fish plants, a warehouse, and tried to burn down the federal Department of Fisheries office.
When I lived out West, I thought that people in the Maritimes were all NDP-voting welfare recipients who never actually contributed to the country as a whole. Now I know they're all right-wing backwater Conservative welfare loonies who don't contribute to anything except the beer industry. I'm fairly certain there's not a useful one among them.
They say better the devil you know than the devil you don't, but I say better to think the devil than to know the devil. When I lived out West, I thought they were useless. Now I know they're counter-productive. They waste their money, and then they waste everyone else's money, and the best they can hope is to stay where they are without falling back down the slope to poverty.
Maybe I sound bitter, but believe me, if you found out that the parts of your country with the most potential couldn't reach that because they have to pay to keep the lowest-potential parts afloat, you'd be upset too. I don't know what could be done about it, other than terminating the transfer payments over time. After all, they're meant to help provinces in need, but only as a hand up, not a hand out. These people should have some pride and learn to stand on their own. Unfortunately, it seems they don't have much of an interest in it.
Maybe it's time we do like BC did to its welfare recipients: start making them prove that they're looking for a job. Make them show us that yes, they have tried to get their economy to be self-supporting, and it's just not working out quite yet, but they're trying. Then I'll be satisfied. But until then, you bet I'm going to be bitter.