23 September 2007

From the files: Parizeau, pure laine and doing it like bunnies

Parizeau's family plan: Triple baby bonus

The Gazette
Tuesday, March 15, 1988
Page: A1
By: Jennifer Robinson

CORRECTION to original story: Child payments start at $29.64: It was incorrectly report in The Gazette March 15 that family allowance payments for the first child are $44.30, of which $32.38 is paid by Ottawa, the balance by Quebec. In fact, the allowance for a child under age 12 is $29.64, of which $20.70 is contributed by Ottawa. The federal amount rises to $28.65 for a child aged between 12 and 17, bringing the total to $37.59. As the story said, the allowances rise according to the number of children.

In the grande finale of his ideological "strip-tease" on the way to the Parti Quebecois leadership, Jacques Parizeau said last night he would more than triple family allowances and give lavish tax breaks to encourage Quebecers to make more babies.

Unveiling his family policy, the last of a series in his four-month solo run for the leadership, Parizeau said that if Quebec were sovereign he would increase family allowance payments for the first child to between $150 and $175 a month; for the second, from $175 to $200; and for the third, from $250 to $300.

Parents now receive $44.30 from Quebec and Ottawa for the first child, with the bulk, $32.38, paid by the federal government. The allowance for each additional child increases slightly (See correction above).

Parizeau is expected to be acclaimed PQ leader Saturday at a special party meeting. Nominations for the leadership close Thursday and no last-minute candidates are expected.

During his "striptease" - as Parizeau called the progressive unveiling of his policies - the former PQ finance minister has promoted Quebec sovereignty, a crackdown on minority language rights and a toughening of language laws, free trade with the United States, government-owned industry, and a minimum-income scheme.

Yesterday, the focus was on the family and Quebec's declining birth rate.

"We need a good system of parental leave, we need a good day-care system, we need an excellent system of family allowance," he told about 400 partisans who jammed a Longueuil high-school gym.

The current Quebec and Ottawa governments can't provide those things because they don't have Quebecers' interests at heart, he said.

The whole system must be improved to encourage women to have children, he said, but he gave no details except for the family allowance figures.

"We owe it to ourselves to organize our lives the way we want," he said, building up to a pitch for Quebec independence.

"Thirty years ago, Quebecers were like rabbits . . . with one of the highest birth rates," Parizeau said.

Quebec now has the second lowest birth rate in the western world, with 1.44 children per woman. Parizeau said the financial burden of raising children is partly to blame.

Parizeau said that if he were elected, his government would negotiate with Ottawa to get taxing powers to pay for tax breaks and incentives for parents.

He said Quebec's and Ottawa's deductions and child-tax-credit systems are complicated, confusing and contradictory.

Parizeau wrapped up his "striptease" in the riding of Marie-Victorin, a PQ stronghold that neighbors the riding of Taillon, formerly represented by PQ founder and past premier Rene Levesque.

Former labor minister Pierre Marois, who quit the PQ government in 1983 over a dispute with Levesque, made his return to public life last night by introducing Parizeau with a thundering pro-independence speech that criticized Premier Robert Bourassa's government for selling out the interests of Quebecers.

"We're dyed-in-the-wool (pure laine) Quebecers. We know we're able to develop our potential," Marois said.

"Sovereignty is not an end in itself. It's the beginning," he said.