For the 4th time in our very short lived century, the city of Montreal plans to dump billions (8 to be precise) of litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. The city assures everyone that the impact to the river and municipalities downstream will be completely negligible and that there’s no cause for concern. Considering the city is, at the very same time, putting up signs forbidding any use of the river (fishing, swimming, boating, etc.) seriously calls into doubt how sincere the negligibility of the dump actually is.
The reason the city is giving for this unfortunate decision is that a major construction project is forcing them to close off a sewer pipe that transports sewage to a treatment plant. This will cause raw sewage to be transported by interceptors directly into the river for an entire week. I’m not a city planner nor am I an expert in construction, so any comment I would make about that explanation would be completely speculative, but I think it should remind us, and especially Quebecers, of the need for transparency and accountability in our leaders.
The Charbonneau Commission was setup to investigate corruption in Quebec regarding the awarding of construction contracts. There was evidence that organized crime had infiltrated the industry and that several mayors were involved in getting kickbacks. The need for this commission highlighted a larger problem in Quebec which has given it an unfortunate brand, among some, as the most corrupt province in the Country. So, when the city of Montreal confesses that they must do something heinous to accommodate a construction project, it should raise eyebrows. Corruption may not be at play here, but one of the first signs of corruption is incompetence. When people are getting easy favours, there’s less incentive for them to be hardworking and diligent. This is especially a problem in the construction industry because it effects our living spaces and infrastructure which can significantly impact the welfare and quality of life of our citizens. For me, the explanation that the dump is necessary, provokes my skepticism because I can’t imagine a scenario in which the city would shut off power to a large section of the city for an entire week in order to accommodate a construction project. If they did, the voting public would be furious and the politicians would be out of a job before long. In a scenario like that, they would find a way to make the project work without shutting off power. In this case, the incentive isn’t as strong and so they’re just taking the easy way out.
I don’t want to pick on Quebec or use this as a kind of opportunity to say, “I told you so,” but I do think it points to a political and ideological reality that we should all be conscious of. It is that whenever a minority of the people control the majority of wealth and power, corruption is inevitable. Quebec is a province that is strongly influenced by socialist sentiments. Socialism is predicated upon the idea that everyone should have an equal stake and say in the governance of the system, but in reality, you end up with a small political bureaucratic class who dictates the distribution of wealth and power. Politicians are known for being corrupt and power hungry. Socialism, in effect, hands over all the wealth and power to this segment in the hopes that they will be trustworthy. Unfortunately, their track record is against them.
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The strongest criticism against unbridled capitalism is the same as I have given for socialism.
The strongest criticism against unbridled capitalism is the same as I have given for socialism. In unregulated capitalism, it is the capitalists who are positioned to control all the wealth and power which again creates injustice. Socialism, as I hope I’ve argued, is no solution to that. It simply transfers that same control from one class to another. The majority and the middle class are left empty handed. We, who are polarized between capitalism and socialism, think that one is a solution to the other when, in fact, they are two sides of the same coin and both are employed by those who would seek to consolidate power and wealth. I make no claim to knowing what the solution is, but Canada seems to be at its best when we establish a healthy balance between the market and the government. Quebec’s longstanding love affair with socialism is splitting at the seams and sewage is spilling out. I hope that the rest of us can learn from that warning and always strive to vote for a healthy and balanced approach to supporting our leadership in industry and government.