L. Jacques Ménard deplores the widespread apathy that afflicts Quebec: Quebec's New "Refus Global": Please Do Not Disturb - constitutes impediment to progress



    MONTREAL, June 9 /CNW/ - "Quebecers need to break the silence that
stifles every attempt to change things in Quebec," said L. Jacques Ménard,
President of BMO Financial Group, Quebec, and author of Si on s'y mettait...
in a speech today to the Canadian Club of Montreal.
    "Quebec has already gone through one Refus global or Total Refusal, a
milestone event that marked the beginning of the Quiet Revolution. Today it is
clear we are going through another. But this time, it's change that we are
refusing," he said.
    Mr. Ménard was discussing the significant challenges facing Quebec and
the approaches likely to help reestablish a level of wealth creation equal to
Quebecers' aspirations. Published last spring, Si on s'y mettait... explores
the perceptions of young people (ages 18 to 35) regarding Quebec society as
well as their values, ambitions and willingness to get involved in a dynamic
and promising society.
    "I am convinced our young people are our hope," said Mr. Ménard after
decrying the apathy that afflicts Quebec's opinion leaders in various fields.
    "I call on you to make yourselves heard, because I believe that nothing
threatens us more these days than this kind of omerta that surrounds any
attempted change," Mr. Ménard said. "Even to suggest that we begin to think
about taking action is seen as an attack on what we hold most dear: collective
social tranquility."
    Mr. Ménard also issued a call to action to everyone who has ideas and
thinks that Quebec needs to shake off its torpor and immediately begin
tackling the enormous challenges confronting it. "I believe we haven't been
claiming our proper place," he said. "And by 'we' I mean everyone who's aware
of Quebec's economic, social and political situation. Everyone who's worried
about our children's future. Everyone who's prepared to help get the ball
rolling in Quebec. There are many more of us than you'd imagine based on the
small space we occupy in the public debate."

    
    Mr. Ménard also provided several examples of the type of society Quebec
could become if we got going with it...

    -   A society that cuts its high school dropout rate in half;
    -   A society that restores university funding to a level equal to the
        Canadian average;
    -   A society that makes Quebec a province that contributes to
        equalization instead of whining in order to get the biggest possible
        slice of the pie;
    -   A society whose per capita income is in the top quartile in North
        America;
    -   And a society whose government debt is less than 25 per cent of its
        GDP.
    

    "Our young people are deeply involved in most of the technological
innovations that enrich our lives today. With the courage and boldness
appropriate to their age, these same young people will be deeply involved in
the social innovations that my generation finds so frightening but that
today's Quebec so urgently needs. It is then that our society will finally
come into its own and realize its full and enormous potential," Mr. Ménard
concluded.





For further information:

For further information: Ronald Monet, (514) 877-1873,
ronald.monet@bmo.com


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