With an election looming, the separatists in Quebec are making loud noises about increasing royalty taxes on mines in the province. This site summarizes the situation:
Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, appearing in a televised debate with Charest and CAQ leader Francois Legault, said if she won the election she would raise royalty rates to stop natural resources being sold off at a discount. ‘We will really create wealth and share it for all the population, not only for a few mining firms,’ she said. ‘I am for the development of the North, but not for development of the North which will let a few foreign mining firms enrich themselves.’ The Parti Quebecois - which wants to win power and then hold a referendum on breaking away from Canada – says it would impose a minimum 5 percent royalty rate on the gross value of all mining output. It would also slap a 30 percent additional tax on all mining profits which exceeded a certain unspecified level. Marois, noting that 10 of the 19 mining companies operating in Quebec currently pay no royalties at all, said she wanted half the royalties from all resource extraction to go towards paying down the province’s large debt.
Ever since I have been Canadian, the separatists in Quebec have been hogging headlines. Most people I speak to in English wish they would separate and just go away. They would be the losers and most other Canadians seem to believe the rest of the country will be the winner. There are no slaves in Quebec so no over-riding principles to fight another civil war.
Of course if Quebec goes tribal on us and imposes Chavez style impositions on mining, mining will there grind to a halt and then maybe the politicians will come to their senses or the nationalists will starve in a poverty of their own making. Can’t have much sympathy for them if this happens.
I cannot really believe what I have just said. Maybe there is something askew when only 10 of 19 are paying royalties. What convoluted history and law makes this possible?
Then I recall that most mines in Quebec are in places claimed by First Nations who would be only too happy to see the French fuck off and leave the profits of new mines to them and not those European exports. Can’t blame them. So maybe there are peoples in Quebec we would have to go to civil war to protect from the rampant tribal racialism of rabid and greedy politician of European descent. Sad.
All of which succinctly raises these fundamental questions currently unanswered by professors and sustainability advocates:
- Are ore bodies owned by the original peoples of the land?
- Are ore bodies owed by the colonial overlords, French or otherwise who impose themselves, on the first nations?
- Are the resources of earth there to enrich and pay down the debt of those who happen to live in the vicinity of the mine at it most profitable?
- Are the potential profits of distant mines owed to those with courage, intelligence, and capital to make it happen?
- Are international norms and agreements valid in places like Quebec which is, afterall, reasonably well-governed, or do local laws take precedence over northern natives?
All rather contentious and with answers that depend on your prejudice and language. We will watch with interest and maybe tomorrow reassess our holding in companies looking to grow rich mining Quebec.