Quebec Liberals thinking BIG

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Ironically, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard may have finally found a way to get his name in the history books with his decision last week to switch milquetoast education minister François Blais to the Employment and Social Solidarity portfolio.

Blais, who was singularly unimpressive and maladroit in education, was given the mandate of piloting Quebec towards becoming one of the first guaranteed minimum income states in the world. But that’s a subject that Blais has mastered, as the author of  Un revenu garanti pour tous, a 2001 tome that explores exactly how such a system might work.

The Basic Income Guarantee, or BIG, is one of those rare beasts that garners support from politicians and economists on both the left and the right. It’s championed by the Canadian Green Party, Quebéc solidaire and liberal economist Paul Krugman, yet is also supported by people like free market economist Milton Friedman, Canadian conservative icons Robert Stanfield and Hugh Segal, National Post columnist Andrew Coyne and the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton.

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