The rioting Quebec students face no such fate. They are the children of affluence – overwhelmingly middle- to upper-middle class. The government subsidizes their tuition costs by $60,000 to $75,000 over the course of their undergraduate careers, according to Carleton University’s Archibald Ritter. Few will ever have to stint on mochaccinos, or work with their hands. I’d feel sorry for them if unemployment among young adults was 50 per cent, as it is in Spain. In fact, their job prospects are among the best in the world.
The Quebec model promises that the state will literally take care of you from cradle to grave, from $7-a-day daycare to your dying breath. Quebeckers pay the highest taxes in the country for this privilege, and they’re proud of it. There’s just one problem. This model maxed out a while ago. In France, which many Quebeckers feel more connected to than they do with the rest of Canada, growth has stalled and generous entitlements have far outrun the government’s ability to pay. The same has happened in Quebec. But it gets a helping hand from the rest of Canada in the form of equalization payments, which will amount to $7.3-billion this year. A great deal of this money comes from the booming resource economy of Alberta, whose social and economic model is despised by millions of Quebeckers – especially the protesting students. If they had their way, they’d shut Alberta down.At which point, they really would be more like the Greeks.