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Kevin Richard

Kevin Richard is a freelance writer with a background in criminal justice. He lives in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Social solidarity must be voluntary

It is often said that Manon Massé performed better than expected in the debates, and that this has resulted in a newfound curiosity with Quebec Solidaire, as demonstrated by a hike in support according to recent polls.  Beyond good debate performances, support for sovereignty, and promises of free services, what exactly are the principles by which this party is guided? The answer, in part, is found in its title. QS claims to be a movement of social solidarity, and its main objective, according to its website, is for all action to be based on the real needs of the population.  So there it is, QS wants to use the legislature and the machinery of the state to address and satisfy our real needs. At first glance such principles can seem noble.  But once the nature of the state is properly understood, one can only conclude that QS’s program is not only destined for failure, but also for the impoverishment of the province, and that behind its veil of nobility lies a patronizing and ideological autocracy. Consider, for example, the many ways one can help respond to the real needs of the population.  One can create voluntary associations and charitable organizations; one can hold fund-raising events; and one can lend a hand and volunteer.  The folks at QS, however, have opted to spend their energy fighting for control over the state. Why?  Wouldn’t their energy be spent more efficiently doing other things?  Yes, but the state possesses that which changes everything, a monopoly over the legitimate use of force.  With an appearance of legitimacy and with the threat of imprisonment, only the state has the power to confiscate and redistribute wealth as it sees fit, and only the state can coerce certain forms of human behaviour through the force of law.… Read More

The purpose of the state

You know summer is indeed over when Parliament goes back to work. For some, this signals little more than the return of bickering background noise. For others, this signals a passionate call for a return to arms. Regardless of the extent to which we pay attention to what goes on, and regardless of the extent to which we engage, as it begins to unfold, we would do well, I believe, to reflect on what the role of the state is and what it should be. What is its task and in what areas should it intervene? There are many disagreements over this most important question. Answers vary from “as much intervention as possible” to “as little intervention as possible.” I suspect, however, that a great many parliamentarians go about their business on an issue to issue basis. They do so mostly out of good will no doubt, but also without being able to provide a principled and robust explanation as to why the intervention which they support, be it an action, policy, or program, should even find itself within the jurisdiction of the state in the first place. Interventionists generally believe society’s ills are the result of design-flaws within its power structure. Such flaws allow the wrong people to wield power, hence the contempt with which the term one-percenter is uttered. In their view, this deficiency inevitably leads to exploitation and it prevents society from progressing and reaching its full potential. With a deep concern for progress, therefore, interventionists see the state as the only instrument powerful enough to remedy such flaws. Consequently, in an effort to give the best and brightest the necessary tools to lead and carry us forward, they believe state power should grow and its reach should expand. Non-interventionists generally believe society’s ills are the result… Read More