More than five years since 9/11, Osama bin Laden, at mid-life, terrorizes
us still. Also in the issue hitting newsstands starting today: Le
Deadbeat - Quebec is in economic peril - and doing very little about it
TORONTO, March 8 /CNW/ - It is unlikely that Osama bin Laden will
celebrate his 50th birthday this Saturday in a particularly raucous fashion.
Music is probably out, as he once declared it to be "the flute of the devil."
There definitely won't be any dancing. Good food is also unlikely. Bin Laden,
when he enjoyed millions of dollars to spend as he wished, shunned the comfort
even of drinking chilled water. The Prophet Muhammad enjoyed no such luxuries,
he reasoned, and besides, the more one gets used to modern extravagances, the
more difficult it becomes to leave it all behind to pursue jihad in the
"The truth is," reports Maclean's senior writer Michael Petrou, "the
terrorist leader has much to celebrate. With the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he
sowed fear throughout the West and forced the institution of new security
measures that have - perhaps irreversibly - disrupted daily life." Instability
grips the Middle East as never before; his greatest enemy, the United States
is bogged down along with its partners in messy conflicts in Afghanistan and
Iraq - all of that is thanks, in large part, to bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the
terrorist organization he founded. Its role in Afghanistan and Iraq appears to
be increasing, even as al-Qaeda enjoys a resurgence-contrary to the misguided
belief that it was mortally wounded in the U.S.-led war on terror that
followed 9/11. The American population, meanwhile, confronting a steady stream
of body bags arriving back home, is losing the will to fight. Four years ago,
U.S. President George W. Bush talked about transforming and democratizing the
Middle East. Now many Americans want to abandon the whole region entirely.
Le Deadbeat: Quebec in economic peril
Quebec is in deep, deep trouble. For years now, productivity has lagged
while debt soared. It is expected to hit $127 billion by the end of next year,
or almost $17,000 for every Quebecer. Provincial budgets rely heavily on
federal transfer payments, and efforts to reform the economy have been
shackled by powerful unions and an unwavering dedication to the province's
cherished but expensive social system, wreaking havoc on public finances.
Things are so bad that Quebec's GDP ranks 54th out of 60 provinces and states
in North America - behind many with a fraction of its population and
Quebec's economic crisis is about to be thrust onto the national agenda,
reports Maclean's. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has hinted that the March 19
federal budget will take steps to correct the so-called "fiscal imbalance."
Translation: a hefty transfer payment to Quebec, which already gets
$2.2 billion a year more from the federal government than it contributes. The
trouble now is that Canada is subsidizing a province that is not only in
financial trouble, but not all that interested in fixing itself.
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