Open letter from Dominique
Building the Quebec of Tomorrow
Open letter from Dominique
After a year of hardships, spring has finally sprung! The COVID-19 pandemic struck Quebec at its very heart. Close to 11,000 Quebecers have died and all Quebecers have been affected in one way or another. Many suffered from solitude or isolation, lost their job or had to watch their business falter or even close.
The crisis is not over yet, but our focus is slowing starting to turn to the post-pandemic world. What will our post-COVID-19 economy look like? What changes will we want to make to our ways of living, working and our consumer habits? Will we go back to the status quo and to “business as usual”, or will we seize the opportunity to make the changes we need for building the Quebec of tomorrow?
These are some of the fundamental choices for Quebec politics in the coming years.
Some might be tempted to start things back up as though nothing had happened. To promise economic development based solely on the race to maximum profitability. To focus on the short term and reduce the value of each item to its mere cost. Affirm that we are concerned by social vulnerability and environmental depreciation, sure, but without the courage to actually change the economic rules of engagement.
Thankfully, a new economic vision is emerging both here and elsewhere. The evolution began prior to the pandemic, but has since accelerated. For many, the crisis provided clarity about the need to offer a new social contract that benefits everyone. Of providing ourselves with a State that is effective, transparent and agile. To set out for a society that is fair to people, equitable for our regions, and sustainable when it comes to the environment. That will require reversing the economic and political trends of the past four decades. Let’s be audacious and idealistic, but realistic as well, and choose an economy that is worthy of the 21st century.
A Simple Idea
A very simple idea is behind this modern vision: economic activity must be at the service of humans and the planet, not the reverse. Progress cannot be reduced to its accounting dimensions alone. We must immediately begin to reflect and act within a wider framework, one that considers economic, social and environmental progress as indissociable. Our economic rules need to serve Quebec society as a whole: our ideals, our prosperity, our regions, our language, our ecosystems and our families. Our workers and our businesses all have a vested interest in starting to prepare for the economy of tomorrow.
This change to the economic rules of engagement will yield a number of advantages. A Quebec Liberal Party government will abandon the rule of the lowest bidder and will add criteria for quality, origin, as well as social and environmental impacts in its calls for tender. Public investments will follow the same logic. We will use new indicators for progress that will compensate for the GDP’s blind spots. We’ll require new types of mission-based companies, new labelling standards, and disclosures about social and ecological impacts. This will require an exemplary State, whose methods, rules and taxation encourage a modern vision of public interest.
This new vision also rests on a novel partnership with the private sector, which is also being called upon to contribute in this transformation. It is not for the government to micromanage businesses or to asphyxiate them with invasive taxation or regulations, but rather to play a proactive role in aligning economic incentives that fall within the kind of society we want to live in.
Our ambitions are lofty, but Quebec can build on its solid foundations. We are an innovative, resilient people. The social and cooperative economy has been engrained in us for over one hundred years. We have the intelligence, the resources and the courage to undertake this exciting and necessary shift. And if we believe the hundreds of thousands of people, young and old alike, who took part in the climate march in September of 2019, Quebecers are eagerly waiting for this change to happen.
In 1960, our parents and grandparents yearned for openness and modernity and elected Jean Lesage’s Liberal Party, which led Quebec to fully become a part of the 20th century. Sixty years later, it’s time to rediscover that momentum so that we can build the Quebec of the 21st century.
Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party