28 juillet 2016

Dépendance ou indépendance?

Quelle option est la meilleure?

Pour répondre à la question, ce blogueur compare deux états très similaires à plusieurs égards: l'Islande et Terre-Neuve. Il y a 60 ans, le premier a choisi l'indépendance et le second, la dépendance. Voici le résultat:

Over sixty years ago, Iceland and Newfoundland were both colonies, dependent on the motherland.  In 1944, Iceland, a desperately poor place, took its independence from Denmark. Five years later, Newfoundlanders went in the opposite direction and voted to join Canada

Iceland and Newfoundland share more than their rugged appearance. They are isolated. They are similar in size. 

(...) But that's where the similarities end. Although Iceland was much worse off than Newfoundland, since winning their independence Iceland has prospered while Newfoundland hasn't fared as well. Unlike Newfoundland, Iceland has very few resources, save the codfish. Yet, it is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Unlike Newfoundland, Iceland is not losing its young people for lack of work. And Iceland still has a thriving cod fishery, and a bright future.

(...) So, why did Iceland prosper and Newfoundland stagnate? History has rarely given us such a perfect test case. Both countries were heavily dependent on the cod industry in the 1940s. Independent Iceland took complete control of its vital industry, managed it well and it is still going strong today. Newfoundland, however, handed over an industry that represented 80% of its GDP to the Canadian government in 1949, since fisheries is federal jurisdiction.

The result has been called “managed annihilation,” “Confederation’s greatest failure,” “a national embarrassment, a national shame.” The demise of the cod fishery off Newfoundland is now legendary as an environmental and economic disaster. Over 19,000 fishers and plant workers laid off indefinitely, another 20,000 jobs directly impacted – the biggest layoff in Canadian history. And yet, for most Canadians the loss of the Northern cod is at most a distant misfortune – something that was probably inevitable and had nothing to do with them.

(...) Soon both Canadian and foreign vessels were dragging the ocean floor for the largest catches in history. In 1968, a record 810,000 tonnes of northern cod were harvested – more than three times the estimated maximum sustainable catch at the time. These vessels vacuumed up the fish and took over the markets. 

(...) In 1992, the Canadian government imposed a moratorium on Newfoundland's cod fishery. This closure ended almost 500 years of fishing activity in Newfoundland, and it put over 35,000 people out of work. Fish plants closed, boats remained docked, and hundreds of coastal communities that had depended on the fishery for generations watched their economic and cultural mainstay disappear overnight.

Iceland, on the other hand, was far more protective of its cod industry. In the 1970s Iceland nearly went to war when British boats began fishing in its waters. When cod stocks starting depleting on both sides of the Atlantic, Iceland took pre-emptive measures, slashing quotas and protecting its waters from other European boats. That approach has payed off today. Iceland still has a cod fish industry. But despite a nearly 25 year moratorium, Newfoundland's cod industry has yet to recover.

The real power brokers in Canada don't live in Newfoundland. Most of them live in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe. To them the economic engine of Canada has always been Southern Ontario and now, to some degree, Alberta. Other regions are mainly for extracting resources and fishing has never made up more than 1% of Canada's GDP. Should we really be surprised that Newfoundland's cod industry was mismanaged? No one will look after your interests better than you will. It's a basic lesson you learn once you're out of childhood.

(...) I think the answer to the question of why Iceland prospered while Newfoundland stagnated is obvious. Newfoundlanders made the colossal mistake of handing over their sovereignty to the Canadian government and in return they got mismanagement and neglect. Then came the welfare checks and the derision in the Canadian media for being beggars and welfare bums; a derision that is usually reserved for Quebecers.

Quebecers should learn the lesson of Newfoundland and Iceland. Independence for Quebec is not just for cultural reasons; it is also for economic reasons. No one will look after our economic interests better than we will. It's that simple. Iceland, a country with very few natural resources, doesn't need handouts from anyone. They are masters of their own destiny and we should be, too.

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