Swan song

HELP modified

A small but zealous squad on this blog loves to speculate about Black Swan events.

Whazzat? Generally speaking, something which comes as a shock to most people, has profound consequences and which, in hindsight, everyone thinks they should have seen coming because it was so damn obvious. Like 2008. Or Nine Eleven.

These days the Swaners speculate it might be Crimea. Or the ramping-up of US debt. Or the time bomb called the derivatives market. They worry such a thing could blow up the global economy, collapse banks, crush currencies, freeze credit and make people with caches of toilet paper the new aristocracy. The Cottonelle Class.

However, we are now just 28 days from a swan event uniquely Canadian, and potentially consequential for everybody, especially the idiots engaging in bidding wars for 15-foot-wide properties in a crappy part of town. And if it happens, you can toss part of the blame at Pierre Karl Peladeau.

On April 7th it looks like the separatist PQ government in Quebec will win a majority (or so say the polls). The grandmotherly Pauline Marois, who sold here 12,000-square-foot mansion, ‘La Closerie’ last year for $6.5 million, is committed to another referendum on taking the province out of Canada.

Boring, right? Been there, done that. But this time she has Peldeau fisting the air beside her, crying “Un pays!” It makes all the difference, because he’s a home-grown billionaire who happens to control what 40% of what all Quebeckers see and read. He’s the majority owner of a media empire which includes the Journal de Montreal, the TVA television network, cable giant Videotron plus the Sun newspaper chain.

Peladeau has immense street creds. In an instant on the weekend, his candidacy as a PQ government member changed the dynamic of a race which was already pushing Marois over the top. Now she can point to a guy whose family was always federalist, and a leader of the business community that’s forever been anti-referendum and say, “Voila. Il est temps.”

So what?

A big PQ win will likely lead to a vote on independence, the outcome of which is always unknown. The very act will have the usual consequences – the dollar will fall further, investment capital will steer clear of Canada, the stock market could wobble, and interest rates will rise as investors demand more yield for holding higher-risk debt. None of that do we need with a slowing economy, a massively indentured population of house-lusty peasants, slagging job creation and a dollar which has already tanked, breeding more inflation.

But the real dirty swan comes if the referendum is not clear-cut in its results, and leaves the door open to the renegotiation of the country. Quebec accounts for 19.7% of the Canadian economy, as opposed to 17.1% for Alberta and 12% for BC. Quebeckers are responsible $137 billion worth of the Canadian federal debt, and the province makes up 15.5% of the entire country’s geography (Ontario is 11%). The inevitable chorus of ‘Let ‘em go…’ always comes from people (usually west of the Peg) who think the country can cleave and nothing will happen except the drive to Halifax gets shorter.

Well, if you were a global bond fund manager with a few billion to invest, would you then choose the US – now in the flower of a slow but steady recovery – or a country whose GDP might be lessened by a fifth and endure a messy partitioning? Exactly. Investors hate surprises. This is the ultimate.

Remember what a black swan is? Something which comes as a shock to most people, has profound consequences and which, in hindsight, everyone thinks they should have seen coming because it was so damn obvious. Just sayin’.


Now, here’s something useful coming out of Quebec. His name is Etienne, a 33-year-old engineer who, like all engineers, gets horny when he thinks of spreadsheets. However, he still has a girlfriend, a baby, a dog and a cat and rents a house on the south shore of Montreal, and has also worked in Nevada and Alberta.

Etienne has devised a worthy little rent-or-buy? Calculator which he is generously sharing with Greater Fool readers so they can plug in numbers and them shame their condo-pumping mothers.

In his own words:

This spreadsheet emerged from lively arguments with colleagues where I was trying to explain that my choice to rent was not only for the mobility and worry-free factor but also a sound financial choice. Working in an office with hundreds of engineers, I needed a tangible and quantitative proof of what I was saying, so I created a basic Excel spreadsheet to show them (engineers tend to believe only hard numbers/facts).

Then the sheet spread (sorry for the bad joke) around and I have made it better and better. Now I don’t even argue with anyone, I show them the spreadsheet and let them play with the numbers. Of course they will always lower the numbers for closing costs and selling fees, but in the end, unless you keep your home for a long period or the price keeps rising, you are MUCH better renting. Now that the tool provides buying-equivalent price, it’s easy to see how much a house (or half-a-house) I can afford with the rent I currently pay.

See, we need to keep these dudes in the country. You can play with Etienne’s calculator by going here.

Bonne chance.


#1 polecat on 03.11.14 at 6:01 pm

I remember the last referendum. Not fun. Can’t we focus on getting Harper out instead of this crap. Wonder how he’s gonna deal with this if it goes through? Legislate back to Dominion laws? Could make 2015 one hell of a burner. Lord help us.

#2 Oceanside on 03.11.14 at 6:14 pm

#1 polecat on 03.11.14 at 6:01 pm
I remember the last referendum. Not fun. Can’t we focus on getting Harper out instead of this crap.

I think Harper loves anything that takes his actions towards the Canadian people out of the spotlight..

#3 Nat on 03.11.14 at 6:19 pm

It is truly absurd how many Canadians think a sovereign Quebec would not affect them or even be a good thing. It will be an economic disaster for all of us and you are absolutely right to point it out. It is an event that could turn a correction in the housing market into something closer to a collapse.

#4 craig on 03.11.14 at 6:28 pm

hmmm… if i change the time frame from 5 years to 20, and add some appreciation of the property at 3%, the chart shows that it is $400,000 cheaper to buy. not to mention that after 25 years the mortgage is paid off and your expenses drop much further…

#5 Canuck on 03.11.14 at 6:29 pm

The last thing I ever want to see is Quebec leave Canada. Canada includes Quebec and always should – but if they really want to, I hope our leaders will make clear to them that the subsidy money flow to Quebec stops. Period. Independence is independence.

#6 Happy Renting on 03.11.14 at 6:34 pm

Go, Etienne. Spreadsheets rock. Even bad jokes are less bad when spreadsheets are involved.

Can’t help but feel Quebec independence is a thorn that will never go away. They’re expensive (have-not province) and ungrateful for the benefits of being Canadian. Isn’t it better to rip the band aid off quickly and just let them leave? We could repatriate the federal assets, carve out their chunk of the federal debt, and move on with our lives.

#7 Srt-what on 03.11.14 at 6:35 pm

Finally some love words for Quebekistan !

Oh and I think I know Etienne. What a small world !

#8 Smoking Man on 03.11.14 at 6:36 pm

That’s funny, most of the Quebec brain drain has already happened, smoke and mirrors all designed for more hand outs.

They get a yes vote, what ever little the have left will be in a convoy on the 401, 1st Uhalls loaded.

Prices of SFH in GTA will rival London’s.

#9 T.O. Bubble Boy on 03.11.14 at 6:40 pm

So – keep some $USD handy for when $CAD tanks… got it.

Imagine how bad the credit rating of Quebec would be as a nation!!!

#10 mitzerboy on 03.11.14 at 6:42 pm

wood anything happen to my good ole Saskatchewan if all this quebec separating takes place…….teeheeheehee

#11 polecat on 03.11.14 at 6:43 pm

You got a point Oceanside. And #3 , there isn’t much to gain with separation, Quebec is already a distinct society anyway, don’t understand how they think it is a better path. Having been to the former Yugoslavia I’ve seen how ugly it can get, don’t think it would resemble that extreme example but the economic consequences would be just as bad for Canadians who don’t know any different. Thank’s for bringing it up Garth, bringing back all kinds of bad memories from the nineties.

#12 gladiator on 03.11.14 at 6:44 pm

@3 Nat:
economic disaster? Have you seen the cold hard numbers showing that Quebec is the largest receiver of federal funds over the years? 7$ per day daycare in Quebec and 40$ in Ontario. Where is the money coming from?
If they separate, after seeing what caca they got into, they will come back begging to be again part of Canada, or their people will vote with their legs. More fuel for Toronto RE.

#13 Shawn on 03.11.14 at 6:44 pm

Who is Responsible for the Federal Debt?

Quebeckers are responsible $137 billion worth of the Canadian federal debt

I doubt that. The Federal government, and only the federal government owes that debt.

It can tax Quebecers and others but the debt is NOT owed by individual Canadians and certainly not owed nor will it be paid equally per capita.

Any federal debt the Quebecers would take with them is purely a matter of negotiation.

#14 Shawn on 03.11.14 at 6:49 pm

Divisibility is as Divisibility

If Canada is divisible, is Quebec also?

Actually, I believe confederation was a one-way deal. There is no escape clause. Canada could send in the army to quash the treasonists (I mean separatists).

(There, now that message ought to calm things)

But seriously, let ’em go, who needs ’em.

Can rest of Canada please have a vote to kick ’em out?

#15 Shawn on 03.11.14 at 6:52 pm

Viva Alberta

Quebec accounts for 19.7% of the Canadian economy, as opposed to 17.1% for Alberta and 12% for BC.

Can that be right for little old Alberta? Amazing. Glad I moved there from the Maritimes about 25 years ago.

#16 hohoho on 03.11.14 at 6:54 pm

An independent Quebec means conservatives will get to stay in power for the foreseeable future.

#17 Shawn on 03.11.14 at 6:54 pm

Hot Retirement

Currently in Cancun. I don’t think I could retire to this heat. Maybe 6 months Canada and 6 months New Zealand would be the ticket. About 75 F is nice. 80’s make me sluggish.

#18 AisA on 03.11.14 at 6:55 pm

It is truly absurd how many Canadians think an overpriced house would not affect them or even be a good thing. It will be an economic disaster for all of us and you are absolutely right to point it out. It is an event that could turn a correction in the economy into something closer to a collapse.

#19 Steve on 03.11.14 at 6:57 pm

I’m sitting in an A&W in a flu stupor waiting for the inspection to finish on my house. Three hours long. 2-5pm. I’m sick, I’m stressed, I’m amazed that I found someone willing to settle my debts. Here’s hoping…

#20 TurnerNation on 03.11.14 at 6:57 pm

For Watchdog, Nosty, SM, if you search online, hold nose and can find a site with the compiled the works of late UofT Prof. Robert O’Driscoll to buy, he was a pre-internet sht disturber who gather intel hand-to-mouth.

You might get put on a list for reading this book…
His info suggested Quebec as the key to controlling our Country’s chaos.

Examples come to mind: Meech lake, Religious headwear ban, QC election night shooting, Le Magnetic train disaster (interesting corporate hijinx afterward), Seperatism, FLQ event, abortion, most PMs originate from there, language laws, and so on. Makes a point.

(We’ve had decades of this, they are turning us into another Israel-Gaza maybe? Et tu, H?
Who knows what chaos is planned but they’re not letting up.)

#21 TurnerNation on 03.11.14 at 7:00 pm

Separate? Well at least the drive to Newfoundland will get shorter in distance

#22 Tri-Guy on 03.11.14 at 7:06 pm

dear diary…jackpot

#23 hohoho on 03.11.14 at 7:06 pm

Black Swan – Crimeans vote to stay in Ukraine.

#24 Keith in Calgary on 03.11.14 at 7:07 pm

The economy of la belle province is based on four cornerstones……

-Fruit pickers


-Maple Syrup

-Taxpayer extortion

If governments had any balls, the next time this loser province rattled the separatist sabre they’d kick them out of the country…….without a referendum.

That would fix them………..

See what I mean? — Garth

#25 Cici on 03.11.14 at 7:08 pm

Garth you are absolutely right when you said “he’s a home-grown billionaire who happens to control what 40% of what all Quebeckers see and read.”

He’s even been sending me (and therefore everyone else in Quebec) free copies of Le Journal de Québec / Journal de Montréal over the past few days.

Very influential indeed.

But by the way, if Quebec separates, this time round it will be thanks to Herr Harper, who has been royally pissing the population off for the last five or six years, and three or four especially. You can only give someone the middle finger so many times before there are consequences. Of course, he’ll probably be happy by the outcome. If Péladeau leads, Quebec will a republican state. Calgary will be the next to annex from Canada, and will also be declared a republican state. Harper and the US tea party crowd will love this, it will put more and more pressure on the Obama administration, which will ultimately fall to republican denomination. The domino effect will continue until we are all under global republican rule.

OK, you may be thinking I’m nuts by now, and that I should take off my tinfoil hat…but just to humour me, take note of everything I’ve said, and do a recap of the situation in five years.

#26 Alberta Ed on 03.11.14 at 7:13 pm

A sovereign Quebec would be an economic disaster both for Quebec and TROC. There would be many, many unintended, unpleasant consequences besides the predictable job losses in Quebec from federally subsidized industries. Even if Quebec would keep Peladeau’s FIL.

#27 Calgary Conditional Owner on 03.11.14 at 7:15 pm

Etienne validates my decision to buy, calculating that is $3,290.05 cheaper ($54.83 per month) than renting. There’s something about us 33 year old Engineers I guess!

#28 BullionTastesGood on 03.11.14 at 7:15 pm

Since inception, PQ has been in power more than half of the time:

-Have francophone gone richer in these years: YES
-Have francophone gotten more literate: YES
-Is Montreal on the list of bidding war hotspots: NO
-Has Quebec separated: NO

Garth, I would advise to start piling toilet paper. It’s easier than to guess Black Swans.

Believe me, I speak from experience..

#29 blobby on 03.11.14 at 7:15 pm

If we get rid of quebec, does that mean we can stop putting french words all over stuff?

#30 Tim on 03.11.14 at 7:19 pm

The spreadsheet seems to be a bit buggy. Try entering that you have $100,000 on hand (B3) and leave everything else as is. Your monthly payment drops to 0. Since that’s 20% of the purchase price, I’m guessing there’s a problem related to the CMHC insurance.

#31 Smartalox on 03.11.14 at 7:20 pm

I sure hope PKP places his investments and other assets into his blind trust before the markets tank. So as to better feel the effects.

Of course he’ll have to cash out in Gold, or bitcoins, because the loonie will be devastated, and the “piastre” will take years to find its footing, and the optics of denominating all his holdings in USD would be catnip to his opponents.

Of course, cashing out his billion-dollar empire in Gold would surely get the crazy vote.

#32 Uh Oh Canada on 03.11.14 at 7:23 pm

Having lived in QC for a number of years, I can see that the provincial government has been preparing for a separation from Canada for many years. Our economy is self-sufficient with many local businesses preferred over national ones. Aside from Montreal, which is bilingual, most cities and towns in Quebec are strictly French speaking, so really, nothing will change here. But a black swan in our housing correction? I doubt we have the power to alter the stupidity in Vancouver and Toronto.

#33 Mrs Bluesky on 03.11.14 at 7:23 pm

Hmmmm… I’m in the middle of transferring a Sunlife LIRA and an RRSP account from the bank to self-directed plans. All the mutual funds will be first converted to cash. Maybe instead of investing it all again into EFT’s right this second, I should wait a month? Then when everyone is doing their black swan freak-out, I could buy low?

#34 Son of Ponzi on 03.11.14 at 7:25 pm

I thought it was Accountants who get horny when thinking of spreadsheets.

#35 raisemyrent on 03.11.14 at 7:25 pm

I was going to say, the real Firsts of note today will be the first to say something along the lines of ‘now we can stop giving them our money’
but too late

#36 dan on 03.11.14 at 7:28 pm

Spreadsheet has an error in it. last argument in the formula should be “,1) otherwise it won’t work if you have large enough downpayment (false in the If statement returns 0)

Correction: IF((1-B10)>0.8,1.018,1)

#37 House squatter on 03.11.14 at 7:35 pm

I live in Richmond, BC, a bridge away from Vancouver. New houses in West Richmond on a standard Vancouver-sized lot (33 by 120) are listing at around $1.3 million and selling fast now that spring is in the air. I said to my wife this guy Garth thinks renting makes more sense. So I took the challenge — to see one paper if we sold our house and invested the proceeds at 5 percent yield, could we rent a comparable house and be better off. Our house in only 5 years old and, 2200 Sq ft. We own it almost outright. So let’s let’s assume we net $1 million after closing costs, and paying out what’s left of the mortgage. A 5% investment yield would generate around 50K a year, assuming the investment portfolio does not shrink. Now I turn to finding a decent rental, and here is where theory hits the wall of reality. We have two kids and pets, so we need room. Houses on Craigslist are renting for between $1800 and $3000. But even the highest cost rental house is no where near as nice as our current house, and is not even located on the west side of Richmond, where we live. So I look at upscale large condos. There is a nice one with offered with housing 3000 Sq ft for rent at 8k a month — the numbers don’t work. There is a new three bedroom townhouse for rent on the river, but a meager 1200 Sq feet, for $3200 per month. For this to work, we would have to take a reduced standard of living. Which means it doesn’t work, not here in Richmond anyway. I was shocked that my little experiment failed to concur with all the bubble statistics regularly trotted out. There is no way we’d sell our house and use the investment yield to rent a less desirable property instead. What is the point?

#38 David McDonald on 03.11.14 at 7:36 pm

I am worried as well. What better argument for sovereignty could Marois have than to point out how unsuitable Harper is to represent Quebec on the world stage. Harper’s government hardly has a presence in Quebec and is associated with actions like abolishing gun control and silencing the scientists in Environment Canada. This may play well in the oil patch but Quebecers are not amused.

If the PQ get a majority, count on a referendum before the next federal election: the PQ wants PM Harper to make their case for them.

#39 waiting on 03.11.14 at 7:41 pm

Wow, didn’t have that on my radar. Thanks for the post Garth.
I thought I’d check out the history of the dollar to see if I could find any defining moments
and found a huge one:
Nov. 15, 1976 – Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois win landslide election victory setting off alarm bells in currency markets around the world. The loonie began a slide that lasted through the 70’s and 80’s … sinking over 30% in 10 years.
Here’s the link:

#40 Potato on 03.11.14 at 7:42 pm

Hi Garth et al, for the real spreadsheet addicts don’t forget about my buy-vs-rent calculator, which lets you also project out changes in interest rates in the future.

Etienne’s is much more compact if you just want a quickie.

#41 D on 03.11.14 at 7:44 pm

My question is, Should Quebec vote for separation and carry through will Ottawa allow foreign national to work for the Canadian government?

If not I imaging Ottawa real-estate prices will rise as massive numbers people refuse Quebec citizenship to keep jobs.

#42 Jimmy on 03.11.14 at 7:46 pm

Mr T.
Any chance of that promised discussion on insurance?
Feels like it’s been around an 8 month wait.

#43 Montrealer on 03.11.14 at 7:48 pm

Fixed the spreadsheet, sorry for the inconvenience… Here’s the correct link:


#44 Observer on 03.11.14 at 7:50 pm

Scots go to the polls 18th of September…..many parallels…

#45 Montrealer on 03.11.14 at 7:51 pm

And placed it on a normal hosting so we donT’ have to remember the weird google drive links:


#46 Larry Laffer on 03.11.14 at 7:53 pm

@Keith #24
“The economy of la belle province is based on four cornerstones……”

Congratulations. Reading such moronic nonsense is exactly why Quebec people could finally realize that they’re better off without people like you.

@Smoking Man #8
“That’s funny, most of the Quebec brain drain has already happened, smoke and mirrors all designed for more hand outs.”

Brain drain already happened… really! Bravo SM, you’ve just outdone yourself. Because you post a lot on this blog doesn’t mean you actually know what you’re talking about. More like the opposite actually…

#47 Freedom First on 03.11.14 at 7:54 pm

Yes, Quebec is a possible sh!tstorm. It will not be good in the short term no matter what the outcome is, and possibly even very not good in the short term, and the long term consequences of a separation would be our worst nightmare. Don’t kid yourself.

Also, our Canadian $ has already dropped significantly on the world recognizing Canada’s wobbly economy, insane consumer debt levels and our way overpriced housing market. MONEY does not like instability, and Canada is about ready to be committed to the asylum unstable.

I like Etiennes’s spreadsheet, and why am I not surprised there is already comments from above arguing against it. And I mean above my comment.

#48 Tony on 03.11.14 at 7:54 pm

The French have already cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars in price markups due to items in both English and French as well as lost money from people shopping south of the border due to no selection of anything in Canada due to the French. Of course their debt and annual handouts will keep them a part of Canada probably forever.

#49 Signe noir on 03.11.14 at 7:57 pm

this idea is not remote enough to be considered a black swan. Quebec join Russia, yeah that is more like it.

#50 Paul on 03.11.14 at 7:59 pm

Well I guess if they talk separation will Rupert’s land come back to Canada as Canada gave it to Quebec to join confederation I believe.


#51 espressobob on 03.11.14 at 8:00 pm

#33 Mrs Bluesky

You might want to consider an advisor? Fee based, obviously. Good luck.

#52 Macrath on 03.11.14 at 8:04 pm

After 40 years of PQ separatist drivel, I`m definitely suffering from separatist fatigue. I don`t even visit the relatives there anymore. When I want French I go to France.

#53 D on 03.11.14 at 8:05 pm

Unfortunately if Justin gets elected he will give Quebec everything it demands and much more!

#54 Jason on 03.11.14 at 8:06 pm

Of the 20% to the CAN economy Quebec brings in, how much of that is from Federal gov’t jobs? I’d expect those to leave the belle province should they decide to go.

You are embarrassing us all. — Garth

#55 Dr Wu on 03.11.14 at 8:09 pm

Independence requires financial sovereignty of currency. That won’t happen in Quebec or in Scotland without blood in the streets. Artificial television sound bite independence- yes. Freedom has to be taken, it can’t be given. The problem is that the ruling elite need slaves, and cant envision life without them. When they gave artificial ‘freedom’ to the USA blacks it was a ruse, because they replaced ‘ownership’ of human beings with an economic overlay that included Every human being , so the plantation just got bigger. Back in the day it was illegal to teach blacks how to read or write. But today they teach everyone how to read and write so they can read the ‘Sumerian Swindle’ or Google about Who? brought the slaves to America. The scam is simple- every parasite needs a host, and too many parasites results in cannibalism.

re: 911- that was a media hoax psyop sold as a Black Swan to the masses. There weren’t even any ‘attacks’.

#56 calculator is broken on 03.11.14 at 8:09 pm

this calculator is broken.. you can amort for 30 years with 20% down payment..

as soon as you put 20% down payment, the calculator ceases function.

engineering fail

Think he just tweaked it. — Garth

#57 nonplused on 03.11.14 at 8:12 pm

Who would want to drive to Halifax????

#58 Keith in Calgary on 03.11.14 at 8:15 pm

Quebec is to Canada as Greece is to the EU.

If we unilaterally remove this cancer from the body our outlook improves greatly……..by letting is metastize, is just, well, plain stupid.

#59 tkid on 03.11.14 at 8:17 pm

What is your recommendation, Garth, if the PQ gets in power?

Get money out of Canada and into a US bank?
Invest outside of Canada but leave money inside a Canadian bank?
Prep alternative living location if things get very ugly?

Hoard croissants. — Garth

#60 Nemesis on 03.11.14 at 8:20 pm

Bonjour, MesAmis… Je me souviens:


Après le déluge:



#61 rod forb on 03.11.14 at 8:23 pm

Let them eat cake! short term pain, long term gain

#62 Longterm on 03.11.14 at 8:25 pm

#37 House squatter on 03.11.14 at 7:35 pm

I think you are confusing the size of your house with standard of living.

$1 million invested providing the income for the freedom to live almost anywhere on the planet and have countless experiences and pursue untold dreams. Or a nice house costing $590 a square foot a flood plain near Railway?

Open your eyes to the possibilities man. It’s not even a contest. Not to mention that in a few years your nice house might be only worth $800,000 or crumble in an earthquake that liquifies the Fraser delta.

You have in your hands the keys to a life that 99.99999% of the people on the planet would kill for and I’m not talking about the house keys.

Open your yes, open the door and walk out and go see what the world has to offer when you are financially free.

#63 Nemesis on 03.11.14 at 8:26 pm


Québec, Je t’aime … nous vous aimons. S’il vous plaît ne pas aller.


#64 nonplused on 03.11.14 at 8:27 pm

So if Quebec votes to separate from Canada, can the reserves separate from Quebec?

Anyway I’m not too concerned about this whole separation thing. They aren’t going anywhere. People from all over will still flock to Montreal for the great table dancing, so the economic impact should be minimal.

These days I seem to carry more US money in my wallet than Canadian and I get paid in US dollars. So I say let them separate! As long as they don’t vote to join Russia what’s the big deal?

And we could get rid of these silly dual language laws after they go too!

But just to be serious for a moment, separation would probably be a big deal for Quebec, and not necessarily in a good way. Without Canada’s dual language laws, they are a lonely 4 million fighting to save their culture from the US machine with no help. Plus, I figure it could drive real estate in Montreal into the ground while buoying the rest of the country as the Italians, Greeks, etc. head for the exits. Montreal is very multi-cultural, and many of the residents may react badly to their new found oppression.

Anyway, divorce is always messy, but in the end it’s better to be separate than to live under duress and blackmail.

If I ever put my kid in language school, it would be Spanish or Mandarin, not French. Although I have to say traditional Chinese cooking is a bit rough for me, I prefer Mexican.

#65 Cici on 03.11.14 at 8:27 pm

#6 Happy Renting

What a moronic comment that one was. Try to think a bit, even if it hurts you!!
And ask yourself: “If Quebec were really such a thorn in the rest of Canada’s side, why did numerous federal politicians and every single prime minister with the exception of Harper, work so hard to keep them in the country? Can you not read the numbers above? Quebec accounts for 19.7% of the Canadian population…hope for your sake that you are not a business person, because if you are you will probably be toast unless that business is all local.
And in terms of being “expensive,” Quebec contributes a lot more to the economy than many other provinces, and once had one of the highest per-capita economic outputs (back when we had a manufacturing sector).
By the way, in terms of economic potential, there’s a lot more of it in the one province you’d be so delighted to give a quick kick to the curb: Quebec students have the highest math scores in the entire country, and rank sixth in the world.

#66 jan on 03.11.14 at 8:33 pm


#67 Chickenlittle on 03.11.14 at 8:34 pm

I guess the name “loonie” referring to our dollar isn’t far off the beaten path.

I think the people saying that buying is cheaper are not taking into consideration the amount of time and effort it takes to save for a down payment.

It’s easy to put 20% on a spreadsheet, but to actually come up with, say, 100k, is another thing.

#68 Bob Rice on 03.11.14 at 8:42 pm

Quebek will separate this time.. believe me. Peladeau means business..

Quebeckers haver never really given a shit about the Canada most of you hold near and dear.

Here’s the good news: Life will go on.

Good luck to you, Quebec. Please don’t forget to pay cheque. you owe us, especially Ontario, a LOT of money for keeping your cute little culture alive.

As opposed to your rich contribution? — Garth

#69 jan on 03.11.14 at 8:44 pm


#70 Sponge Rob on 03.11.14 at 8:48 pm

I believe in freedom. I believe that if Quebec votes to separate then they should be free to do so and I wish them all the best. Having said that thank god we don’t have a Quebec born prime minister negotiating for Canada.
Separation would be stressful at first but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Life would go on.

#71 PoltawaDiva on 03.11.14 at 8:51 pm

#23 Black Swan – CrImeans vote for Ukraine.

You may be closer to the truth than you realize. Unreported in the Western media was the fact tha Sunday the highest authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, (analogous to the Pope) the monks on Mt Athos in Greece,a pronounced an ” anathema” on Putin, the most influential members of his government, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and all of its bishops,and archbishops for inciting the Russian people to war and aggression. This is stronger than an excommunication, more like a curse.

I don’t a know how widespread this will be known in the near term in Russia, but forUkraine and Crimea this is the joker card, considering the role of the Orthodoc Church and the superstitions of the general population.
On the other hand, the votes in the referendum have already been counted.

#72 Rob on 03.11.14 at 8:55 pm

It’s interesting to note that Queen Pauline hardly mentions the referendum card within Quebec itself and that rather it is more often commented elsewhere in Canada. I figure that is because she knows that the PQ stand a better chance to win their majority by playing the religious headgear edict card, which many of the rural Pierre and Pierrette Poutine types are solidly for. And economic issues are off the table as the average citizen doesn’t need to be told how much their economy is quickly going down le toilette. Having lived in Montreal half my life (before getting my Head Office transfer “get out of jail free” card), all this separation chatter is so repetitively deja-vu – their own brand of Chinese Water Torture – drip, drip, drip – repeat it often enough over the years and hopefully one day it will come to pass – that is the PQ strategy. Now if Quebec should have happened to have been located off Newfoundland … that might have made the “kiss off” difference, eh? Mind you, should Quebec separate, any bets that Montreal will then separate too – and join up with the rest of Canada. I wonder then who will play the Canadian Vladimir Putin role.

#73 PoltawaDiva on 03.11.14 at 8:59 pm

Here is the link for listening to the “anathema” There are hundreds of names – the complete hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and the government:


#74 Vancity on 03.11.14 at 9:01 pm

After playing around with the spreadsheet for a bit, I see that the LESS you put into the down payment, the more the calculation tilts towards BUYING. Does this result surprise anyone else besides me? Sort of explains why the people who are buying today are precisely those who can barely afford to.

#75 Smoking Man on 03.11.14 at 9:04 pm

Head line from Washington post.

March 11, 2014 7:59 PMThe Malaysia Airlines Disappearance Shows Technology’s LimitsRadar, Satellites Are Powerful Tools but Still Have Limited Reach


WHAT? WHAT!!!!!!

Pre 911 o well when an aircraft turns off its transponder we can’t find it…

The confusion, did it divert course or didn’t it.

Pilot to Pilot 5 years ago before Hatfield got famous, I asked him point blank, I’ve seen shit, ufos, it’s not a question of do they exist but are they little green men.? He laughed and said actually little Grey men…

Peter Mansbridge interviews him a few months ago, very sincerely and hounest till the ufo topic is raised.

You should see his body language change, Vladimir find the clip, he’s a bad lier and you can clearly see it.

Today CBC at five, randomly in between two in related stories, Ufo sightings way up in Canada.

Why today,?

#76 sheane wallace on 03.11.14 at 9:05 pm

How about series of black swan events?
1. pick oil and energy and decline of fracking
2. demise of the dollar
3. peak debt and decline of bonds
4. housing crash (in Canada)
5. trade and currency wars
6. blow up of derivatives and gold at 10k/silver at 500?

#77 Son of Ponzi on 03.11.14 at 9:05 pm

the spreadsheet has an error in it.
It told you:
Accountants do spreadsheets.
Engineers do CAD.
And, remember always check your work.

#78 Smoking Man on 03.11.14 at 9:06 pm

How about Grey Swan

#79 800 RMK on 03.11.14 at 9:07 pm

On behalf of good ol boys from Alberta and Saskatchewan I say screw Quebec, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Big welfare state, nothing but a bunch of leeches sucking the wealth from Western Canada, always have been, always will. All their socialist bs programs are paid compliments of hard working Albertans.

Like they said in Alberta when the Feds implemented the national energy program, ” let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark.

Sincerely, Western Canadian Oilman.

#80 Bob Rice on 03.11.14 at 9:07 pm


#81 montellino on 03.11.14 at 9:08 pm

I love lamp…

#82 Not 1st on 03.11.14 at 9:08 pm

Garth your stats are totally bogus. Quebec is nowhere near that portion of our GDP. 10 billion in transfers has profound skewing on that stat.

And you are TOTALLY reading the tea leaves wrong on this one. The west is the powerhouse now and we are totally prepared to go it alone. Not one tear will be shed. Ont and the maritime a can do whatever they want.

So Quebec I just dare you to vote yes. The west won’t even notice and you can go on to your negotiations with Ottawa and the native bands. Party like its the 1500s. Meanwhile the west will be hooking in its power base to tbe up and coming pacific rim powers.

Funny. You don’t sound confident. –Garth

#83 saskatoon on 03.11.14 at 9:10 pm


Make this spreadsheet into a webpage (flash?).

#84 Holy Crap Wheres The Tylenol on 03.11.14 at 9:12 pm

If I recall Canada ceded quite a bit of northern land to Quebec back around the early nineteen hundreds. Most of that land is owned by aboriginals. I am sure that either Canada and or the aboriginals will want to decide thier own fate. So there goes Quebecs grand plans. Wait till they have their own separation, by the way it’s quite a large chunk of mineral and hydro rich land.

#85 Godth on 03.11.14 at 9:13 pm

Don’t worry it’s all under control.

#86 waiting on 03.11.14 at 9:18 pm

After two referendum calls
1980 – 59.5% voted “No” and 40.5% voted “Yes”
and the very close
1995 – 50.58% voting “No” and 49.42% voting “Yes”
most people only remember that the referendums didn’t pass, not how perilously close Quebec came to separating.
The next time may be different and it will be a huge shock with profound consequences.
If the numbers are still similar, either way, Quebec will be either a province or a country divided.

#87 Vamanos Pest on 03.11.14 at 9:20 pm

I’m not aware (not that I would be) that a provincial government can hold a referendum to separate from the country and then unilaterally act on it. I really don’t think it works that way.

So unless this mechanism is in place, it doesn’t matter what the outcome of a provincial referendum is. They’re stuck with us, and us with them.

#88 Worried realtor on 03.11.14 at 9:20 pm

Most of you realtors here are an embarrassment to the profession. Quebec leaving is not a good thing for Canada or Canadian RE. It would without a doubt crash RE values across Canada and yes even the GTA. The Gta is already heading for a correction and this will continue for some time. Sellers need to wake up or your property will not sell. Smart realtors and sellers are pricing it right and selling. What a home sold for last year will not sell for the same inflated price. A bubble is a bubble. Price it right or watch it sit on the market for months. You will find many on mls that haven’t sold in months and in some cases over a year.

#89 Pope Snugglebums the 666nd (aka Nosty) on 03.11.14 at 9:29 pm

#20 TurnerNation on 03.11.14 at 6:57 pm — “His info suggested Quebec as the key to controlling our Country’s chaos.”

Evidently, it seems you are correct — Uno, Bingo, Bongo and Bungo.

Famines, poverty etc. are part of the things he was investigating. Guess he was onto something. Was he silenced?

Of note: Just as the Crimean govt. voted 78-0 to join Russia (the public referendum will be held in a few days), why doesn’t Obama and the rest of the west threaten Canada with sanctions if Quebec leaves by its own free will?

This planet is in relatively good shape. It’s the dumbass, brain-dead dimwitted dickheads (or sheeple) who haven’t got the foggiest of what they’re doing, esp. politicos / lobbyists.

#90 DreamingInTechnicolour on 03.11.14 at 9:31 pm

Separation to a Quebec separatist just means “more leverage for negotiation” with Canada – oldest tactic in the book! They have cried wolf too many times already.
Good riddance.

#91 Not 1st on 03.11.14 at 9:35 pm

Quebec separatism? To use one if Garth’s many snarky comments “not in my lifetime”. And I will worry more about climate change…..more real

#92 Phil on 03.11.14 at 9:35 pm

Quebec will be one of the biggest country in the world, with a tiny population. This means loads of natural resources, and low unemployment in a world were ever fewer people are needed. It has already mastered hydro-electricity decades ago and is the world leader in the field, on the dawn of an era where every car is not running on Middle East oil but on electricity, which will all be generated locally and exported to the north-eastern US, and maybe Canada too if they stop pouting.

The Altarima Quebec Growth ETF, which tracks companies that are headquartered in Quebec has gone up 250% in 5 years. Quebec is a powerhouse, and its potential has been undermined by corruption which at least has surfaced and is being uprooted, unlike in the ROC. Its urban population is internationalizing, Quebec City is growing significantly which will diversify Quebec’s economy instead of making it overly reliant on Montreal.

It’s only the beginning really.

#93 lee on 03.11.14 at 9:37 pm

I personally believe it would be a shame, and a disappointment if Quebec separated, or otherwise lessened its ties with Canada. It has contributed economic and cultural diversity. I will assure you when people abroad think of traveling to Canada, Quebec is first on their list. Many of Canada’s economic, political, legal, entrepreneurial and artistic leaders and visionaries are from Quebec. And finally, where is the first place people from Ontario want to go when they are old enough to drink? Aside from the economic consequences, we will almost all regret it if Canada loses a province. Rather than ridicule quebecers, find reasons to convince it to stay put.

#94 Plugger on 03.11.14 at 9:39 pm

If Quebec leaves, how will the HAM get into Vancouver through the side door……more importantly, will they be forced to refer to themselves as Le Jambon, or collectively Les Jambons?

#95 anonon on 03.11.14 at 9:39 pm

@ #65: Cici
“And ask yourself: “If Quebec were really such a thorn in the rest of Canada’s side, why did numerous federal politicians and every single prime minister with the exception of Harper, work so hard to keep them in the country? Can you not read the numbers above? Quebec accounts for 19.7% of the Canadian population…”

According to the 2013 stats, the province of QC has 22% of the Canadian population. Interestingly, the GTHA (is that what we’re really calling it?) has 17% of the Canadian population. And the GTA is growing. Upper and Lower Canada don’t matter anymore. It’s all about the united wards of Toronto. Maybe we should become an independant city state. That Mel Lastman was ahead of his time.

#96 Quebec friend on 03.11.14 at 9:46 pm

Do not worry that much my follow canadian friends.

A recent poll from Quebec suggest that 61% of Quebeckers don’t want to hear about separation.

From my point of view, separation in Quebec as become an old dream only carried on right now by a remain of the baby boomer generation. The younger generations do not buy into this. And the Quebec society has become a lot more diversified that in the 80’s and 90’s = the arrival of a great number of imigrants who really don’t buy into that separation thing either.

Pierre Karl Peladeau is viewed alot like a child king or a Daddy’s son. An opportunist.

#97 Mihai on 03.11.14 at 9:49 pm

Very interesting post and the same for the comments section.

As some have said, the separation subject has been beaten to death by Quebec boomers. My younger generation who are slowly climbing the latter are not into it as much.

What pops out the most to me is the fear that is generated by the thought of another referendum.

I am shopping for a house (waiting patiently) and the outlook is good as houses on the West part of Montreal (mainly anglophone) are becoming more affordable everyday as opposed to the East (mainly francophone) where the bubble keeps holding.

As the author of this blog has pointed out many times, fear is a very powerful emotion when financial decisions are to be made.

#98 Mark on 03.11.14 at 9:53 pm

This time around, Canada is not running deficits, nor is vulnerable to an external funding crisis. So don’t expect a repeat of the mid 1990s when commodities were in the toilet and Canada ran trade deficits. Housing is in the process of going down with declines recorded in nearly every Canadian city on an ‘identical property’ basis. Quebec will only hurt themselves if they separate, but the rest of Canada may actually be strengthened through such.

Naïveté overwhelms us tonight. — Garth

#99 Goldie on 03.11.14 at 9:55 pm

As a west coaster, by far the most anti-Quebec stuff I hear (which is not much to begin with) comes from easterners who have moved here from Ontario. The same holds true for anti-Americanism. Not sure why.

#100 Notta Sheeple on 03.11.14 at 9:59 pm

One minor correction:

The Sun Newspaper chain, owned by Pile-of-Dough and VP’d by a former Harper mouthpiece, does not, in fact, print newspapers.

In reality, it is a manufacturer of printed cat-box liners whose target audiences are illiterate, red-neck, knuckle-dragging, anti-government, anti-taxation, pro-Ford, Neanderthal, simpleton, brainwashed, tea-party wannabes who are incapable of informed and independent thought.

Just thought I would clear that up…

#101 MagnumMtl on 03.11.14 at 10:10 pm

If Quebec separates from Canada then Montreal will separate from Quebec.

#102 Goldie on 03.11.14 at 10:14 pm

Just finished reading the comments so far.

Quebec, je taime vu. Please don’t leave the family. And to all the old codgers here who are trashing them, you are less welcome in MY Canada than Quebec is.

#103 Jon B on 03.11.14 at 10:15 pm

Indeed. Let’em go.

#104 Nemesis on 03.11.14 at 10:20 pm

Prêtez-moi vos oreilles, Chiens Précieux. Paraboles ne reçoivent pas plus emphatique que ce:


Il est près de minuit …

#105 2or3orsometimes7 on 03.11.14 at 10:22 pm

yes! my family has a similar dilemma (although we are renters who desire a bigger space in a different province). Basically, there are no well-kept-up, single detached houses in the desirable neighborhoods. It’s either expensive condos or older, dated, drafty houses. Occasionally a house comes up that is nicer, but it’s listed for sale on mls, which means having to move on a regular basis.

#106 Waterloo Resident on 03.11.14 at 10:24 pm

Thanks for that Calculator, I’m saving it on my external hard drives (storage drives). I never actually save any files on my computer’s hard drive because the hard drive in a computer is constantly cycling as the computer is using the programs that are running the computer. That’s why the hard drives on computers fail after 5 to 7 years. Now when that happens ALL of your stuff is lost, so I have 2 external hard drives, both with copies of the same stuff that I don’t keep on the computer itself (2 of them, so if one of those external drives goes bad, I still have the backup).

Yes, is Quebec votes for separation that will be bad financial news for us, but that won’t happen for at least a year, so don’t worry about it right now if you rent. Now if you own a house, well, that’s different.

Sold off all of my holdings of UPRO this morning at $100.25 Maybe this is a bad idea or maybe not, but for now I’ll be waiting on the sidelines for the next few weeks. Went from 85.50 to 100.25 in just a little over 4 weeks. 17% return on investment in 5 weeks is not bad. Do that 4 times a year and you get 80%+ per year returns. Sure beats the 1.65% return you get on 15 month GICs.

#107 jan on 03.11.14 at 10:29 pm

Naïveté overwhelms us tonight. — Garth

Whom are you trying to impress fancy talker.
Why don’t order yourself a nice 5 star meal…lol

#108 TheCatFoodLady on 03.11.14 at 10:32 pm

The ultimate messy divorce – where both ‘spouses’ lose big time in the short term if separation were to go through.

Canada’s population, its resource base, its land mass – all shrink.

Quebec has to take on the ‘start up’ role… with a lot of expensive issues to sort out – good time & place to be a lawyer if this goes through.

Borders – which historical borders are selected?

Do First Nations have the right to stick with Canada? What if certain municipalities or townships want to stay Canadian?

How do we negotiate use of the seaway, rail lines through Quebec?

I was born in Quebec, am a proud CANADIAN. How are matters of citizenship handled?

How is the transfer of major national assets dealt with – military bases, federal buildings & complexes? Pensions? Banking?

Quebec would have to negotiate, in their own right, all treaties in which they participate as part of Canada.

For Quebeckers wanting to ‘return home’, they might do well selling a home in TO & buying in Quebec. The other way around? Not so much.

Quebec’s standard of living will dip big time for a while – they already have a lot of infrastructure issues kicking them in the ass.

Some nations have managed the whole splitting up deal without too much internal chaos – I hope we could do the same but nothing is guaranteed. I can’t see that Quebec would genuinely vote for independence without being presented a solid plan to deal with all the above issues & far more. This isn’t something where you can wing it.

#109 chris on 03.11.14 at 10:37 pm

Anyone who didn’t see 911 coming was a fool and an idiot. The same fools can’t see real estate prices plummeting into the abyss. It’s happening here already. Nothing is moving, and when it does it’s barely for the price of the land.

#110 John in Mtl on 03.11.14 at 10:38 pm

Like I said the other day… here we go again on the merry-go-round of yet another provincial election. I was just shocked to hear PKPeladeau decided to take the plunge into politics and join the PQ, of all parties! He’s one of the most crass kind of boss and business owner, caring only for the bottom line – money, rather inhuman in his dealings with his fellow humans, and as openminded as a fire hydrant.

For me, this is a defining moment in Quebec politics and I sure as hell now know who I’ll never vote for!

I had this fantasy that M Peladeau is playing ball with the liberal party instead; the party having asked him to join the PQ to make sure he’s the last nail their coffin. When the election is over, he’ll just go back to his office and run his business as usual.

No one in their right mind would vote for this man and this party unless you wanted to see your life diminished and toil in misery for the next 4 years. Although, if he cleaned up the province’s finances, it would be a good thing in the long run. Just don’t do it on my dime!

Quebec’s motto is “je me souviens” (I remember). You can be sure that the 200,000 strong red student wave of 2012; the cable company monopoly’s former employees that lost their jobs & benefits, the labour unions as well as the many more who know what this man is all about, won’t cast their ballot in their favour.

If I was younger and had almost nothing to lose, I’d move outa here, like my dad did in 1976, like the Anglos also did back then.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my province and my country, and we are “different”. But I can’t accept this government’s ideas and ideals any more. The world is a different place now.

Garth is very right on this one – Canada doesn’t need this huge “problem” at this time. I wonder if Harper will hire busloads of cheery Canadians (“Quebec! We Love You! – 1995 referendum) to help us make the “right” choice.


#111 Blacksheep on 03.11.14 at 10:39 pm

What….we can just vote ourselves out? And Shawn says, with no debt burden?

OK then, I want a referendum to vote BC out of this chicken shit outfit and sell to the highest bidder.

Pricing starts at 1000 oz of gold bullion per BC resident.

I figure we are on a clear path to annexation by the US, anyway, so lets just accelerate the process and get some dough out of the deal.

#112 VICTORIA TEA PARTY on 03.11.14 at 10:40 pm


So M. Peladeau is fronting for the separatistes.

Big deal.

Like all media barons, he’s probably toting up his balance sheet right now and wondering which divisions to pitch and which to boost. The tsunami of change being wrought by the galloping internet is making mincemeat out of all “established” media outlets, still, and it’s getting worse.And then there’s the crappy local Quebc economy.

Is he really a new-born separatist or just some worried baron wanting sell more stuff to protect his hard worked-for turf? Can’t blame him one way or another. Poor laddie.

As for the argument that if Quebec can separate from Canada then is Quebec also divisible within its own borders?

That argument was floated during the last referendum and I can’t remember the outcome of that debate or if the federal government at the time since was able to move in any particular direction on such a suggestion.

In sum: If a referendum is held it would be a disaster for the rest of us if Quebec decides to “leave” whatever the heck that would mean.

Nevermind all the usual unintended consequences such as a US takeover of Quebec where they’d be ordered to learn how to speak Spanish? Why not? It’s easier to learn than French!

Throughout the world there are many separatist movements: Ukraine/Russia, Chechnya, etc., some strong lobby groups in the USA, China (always a pot that can boil quickly and has in times past), Spain/Catalonia, Western Africa, the Sudans and more. Human suffering is incalculable in many of those countries.

Separatism is seen by many as a cure for various local economic ills. Right now the world is very economically sick and it’s not getting better.

Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face is utter foolishness for which there is no turning back, once the dirty deed is done.

Sovereign narcissism is beyond dangerous. Quebec, and its cooler heads, please take note.

#113 AK on 03.11.14 at 10:40 pm

#48 Tony on 03.11.14 at 7:54 pm
“The French have already cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars in price markups due to items in both English and French as well as lost money from people shopping south of the border due to no selection of anything in Canada due to the French. Of course their debt and annual handouts will keep them a part of Canada probably forever.”

Let’s mark this day on the calendar.

I finally agree with Tony on something. :-)

#114 Republic_of_Western_Canada on 03.11.14 at 10:42 pm

#101 MagnumMtl on 03.11.14 at 10:10 pm

If Quebec separates from Canada then Montreal will separate from Quebec.

We’ll take Montreal as a sort of Falklands outpost, and the rest of Quebec can be leased to a consortium of lumber and maple-syrup companies set up by Carl Icahn.

#115 KommyKim on 03.11.14 at 10:45 pm

RE: #30 Tim on 03.11.14 at 7:19 pm
The spreadsheet seems to be a bit buggy. Try entering that you have $100,000 on hand (B3) and leave everything else as is. Your monthly payment drops to 0.

That is not a bug. The spreadsheet is from Quebec, and the missing money comes from a hidden federal subsidy. ;-)

#116 takla on 03.11.14 at 10:46 pm

remember reading many yrs ago the last time the quebec separatist had the referendum the nay sayers were going on about the financial aspect of quebec leaving,”how are they going to make a go of it,wheres the money for social programs ect ect”.Then it leaked out that there were clandestine plans to dame off the north end of james bay and voila…..unlimited source of fresh water for quebec to sell to the states big$$,eastern sea board of U.S will be a big fan of this separation im sure .Some more of our resources will be going south,now for the betterment of a separatist gov state.

Would this be a card up their sleaves of the separatist and became a reality??You betcha!

#117 Inglorious Investor on 03.11.14 at 10:47 pm

I remember the Québec love-in rally in 1995. In addressing the multitude of Canadians who scampered from places across the country to la belle province in order to beg it not to say “adieu”, Jean Chretien proudly proclaimed, “You have come in plane… on train… and in car.”

I kinda miss the little guy from Shawinigan. You gotta respect a politician who can defend himself by bodily taking down an unruly protestor with a ‘Shawinigan handshake.’

#118 Tri State Pat on 03.11.14 at 10:51 pm

TVA regularly has opinion polls asking about many issues all the time. The one from the 10th of march caught my attention,


Basically 5600 people voting with a 79% majority that they did not want to hear anything about a referendum during this election. And this is not “La Presse”, which usually has a federalist position…

They don’t have the popular vote on separation and they know it. People are just more concerned about the economy and housing right now.

#119 John in Mtl on 03.11.14 at 10:51 pm

@#79 800 RMK

Objection, your Honor. This is defamatory.

#120 Snowboid on 03.11.14 at 10:54 pm

#79 800 RMK on 03.11.14 at 9:07 pm…

As a former co-worker of mine, the late Ralph Klein used to say: “We’ve learned you well, my friend, we’ve learned you well”

It was actually a play on words as his role as a reporter at CFCN-TV, but maybe you will still get the point.

#121 Keith on 03.11.14 at 10:57 pm

Quebec will not separate, a referendum wil not pass. The separatists took their best shot last time, and it failed. Jacques Parizeau screamed “the ethnics let us down.” He was right, so they did. The Canadian policy since before that time has been the highest level of immigration in the western world, because Ottawa knows full well that most immigrants settle in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, and they don’t vote in favour of separation.

The separation movement barely exists in Montreal, it is overwhelmingly rural, xenophobic and doomed to failure.
If Quebec’s anti business policies haven’t scared capital away yet, separation is not going to make much difference.

#122 Inglorious Investor on 03.11.14 at 11:01 pm

…btw, mon Canada inclut le Québec.

#123 Carpe Diem on 03.11.14 at 11:03 pm

I found another bug in the spreadsheet. If you increase the rent , it seems you save more as a renter!

Never trust an engineer to do business or financial work. That’s why we have management degrees.

I rent and I have a master budget spreadsheet that rocks!

If I owed a house where I rent, I’m not sure how my budget would balance.

#124 Hawk on 03.11.14 at 11:04 pm

What $1 million buys in Texas (ofcourse that’s greenbacks)



#125 Republic_of_Western_Canada on 03.11.14 at 11:07 pm

#93 lee on 03.11.14 at 9:37 pm
[…] Many of Canada’s economic, political, legal, entrepreneurial and artistic leaders and visionaries are from Quebec. […]

Not to mention 3 lousy lawyers which did their best to screw over everything west and north of the manitoba border. And who were instrumental in creating both C-68 and the NEP.

#126 BG on 03.11.14 at 11:12 pm

I’m french, from France.
I’ve moved from Paris to Montreal almost 5 years ago.

One of the things I really liked when I arrived was the duality french/english as well as the “live and let live” attitude.

As time passed I noticed things were more complicated. I’m sad to see Pauline Marois in power. I don’t like what she represents.
Defending the francophone culture should be done by promoting it rather than enforcing stupid rules.
The “charter of values” is a mistake. I understand the motivation being it but this kind of rules only creates tensions in society.
I’ve seen the same happening in France, with very poor results.

If Quebec was to separate, I would probably move out to somewhere in the rest of Canada.
Canada is the country I immigrated to.
I appreciate the Quebecois culture, but I wouldn’t like being 100% immersed in it.
What makes Montreal so interesting and unique is its multiculturalism with a strong presence of Quebecois culture. It would become much less interesting (to me) it it was 100 Quebecois.

I will sit back and watch, as I don’t have the right to vote. I hope the young generation will understand it is not their best interest to separate.

#127 Inglorious Investor on 03.11.14 at 11:13 pm

RE: Black Swans

Nothing that is widely recognized as a potential threat today is likely to trigger the next crisis. By definition, a black swan cannot be anticipated.

Oh sure, there are those who can predict a potential crisis. For example, there was Brooksley Born, former head of the CFTC, who warned about unregulated derivatives markets, and was shut down by Greenspan and Wall Street. Or Peter Schiff who warned about the US housing bubble, but was laughed at by CNBC.

Or John Garth Turner, who warned about Canadian consumer debt loads, house mania and lack of diversification.

#128 Republic_of_Western_Canada on 03.11.14 at 11:15 pm

#92 Phil on 03.11.14 at 9:35 pm

Quebec will be one of the biggest country in the world, with a tiny population. This means loads of natural resources, and low unemployment in a world were ever fewer people are needed. It has already mastered hydro-electricity decades ago and is the world leader in the field, on the dawn of an era where every car is not running on Middle East oil but on electricity…

It certainly has potential. Rather like France, but with more resources and less industry. However both are struggling, and will continue to struggle compared to their neighbors.

Probably due to an entrenched central kleptocracy more interested in maintaining a near-mafia like self-interest rather than interest of the population as a whole.

#129 quebec economist on 03.11.14 at 11:15 pm

#90 DreamingInTechnicolour

Seperation is not a political strategy but a romantic goal. Pierre Karl and Pauline dream of having their names in history text books as the people who made Québec un pays. People on the streets think it would be great time if they became a nation. Obviously they do not realise the consequences…

This time I am worried, la séparation is a réality.

From a RE perspective I think that Montreal will have great bargains. I regretted not buying after the last referendum…prices dropped 40% on the island and jumped back up withine 2 years.

BTW: Québec is a powerhouse with some super mines in developpement. They have Hydro Québec + Some of the best Lithium deposits in the world (to make batteries for the Telsa cars)…not to mention iron, titanium, diamonds. I think the economy will take a major blow, but it will not be the end of the world….or the end of Québec. Some smart people are here to keep things going…Marois is not one of them.

As others have mentioned, I don’t think Harper will put up much of a fight to keep Québec, this will benefit him and his party.

Like I have mentionned, I just hope Québec keeps the TFSA idea when independent.

Not sure how I will vote yet…


#130 Obvious Truth on 03.11.14 at 11:16 pm

Quebec could never leave. Imagine trying to pay that Provincial debt with whatever currency they make up. Would drop 50 % day one. Imagine all the big funds thinking they’ll get paid back in Quebec francs.

Smoke and mirrors. But what billionaire wouldn’t want to run their own country. His money will be in greenbacks and he’ll buy the rest of the province. Nothing in it for the average joe. They’ll be back to fur trading.

#131 Ruben on 03.11.14 at 11:18 pm

#65 Why indeed. Politics is the answer as in keeping oneself in office. You ever watch a federal election unfold? By the time they make it to Toronto the election is over. All the seats that will make or break a potential PM are concentrated in the east. That is the way it is, dates back to upper and lower Canada days. Ancient system that desperately needs to be updated but fat chance that will happen any time soon.

#132 Andrew Woburn on 03.11.14 at 11:18 pm

#99 Goldie on 03.11.14 at 9:55 pm
As a west coaster, by far the most anti-Quebec stuff I hear (which is not much to begin with) comes from easterners who have moved here from Ontario. The same holds true for anti-Americanism. Not sure why.

Many people on the West Coast have never been East so they have no real opinion of either Ontario or Quebec. I grew up in Ontario where people think they are Canada and Quebec separatists are therefore a personal affront.

Ontario was originally settled by United Empire Loyalists who fled America after the revolution. Then there was the war of 1812 with America. That is the deep source of anti-Americanism in Ontario. People in BC and Washington state have always mingled and intermarried so no animosity developed. People from Victoria used to find it easier to travel to Seattle than Vancouver before the modern ferry service started.

I have noticed a considerable increase in young Quebecers visiting Vancouver over the last twenty years. I assume this means they feel at home in Canada unlike their parents. My guess is if the separatists lose this time, they are done.

#133 questionmark on 03.11.14 at 11:21 pm

If Quebec separates from Canada please make sure not to use the highway 401 in Ontario’s direction, it will be a traffic jam of Haul trucks all the way long.

#134 tim on 03.11.14 at 11:28 pm

Re #1 I agree, we should focus on getting Harper out. He is the worst PM this country has had. His proposed “Fair” Elections act was disgraceful, and is exactly what the Republicans are trying to do in the States. Maybe Harper can run for the Tea Party in the US.

#135 Bottoms_Up on 03.11.14 at 11:29 pm

#87 Vamanos Pest on 03.11.14 at 9:20 pm
I agree. What would the mechanism for separation look like? Would the USA allow it? Could Britain do something to stop it?

Wouldn’t Harper just say that any referendum vote isn’t recognized by the federal government? If I’m in his shoes, even if it’s 50%+1 ‘yes’, isn’t it more an act of symbolism, rather than a legal mechanism to separate?

And in the extremely unlikely event that Quebec separated, I think it would be quite chaotic as many people (immigrants, anglophones) would flood across the border into Canada; we’ll have to set up refuge camps; the pressure on services will be unlike anything we have ever experienced; the property market will explode to the upside.

Francophones, currently occupying 29% of public service jobs (76,000 jobs) could be cut:


And what would border-area Quebeckers do for healthcare???

#136 Yuus bin Haad on 03.11.14 at 11:29 pm

Oh Pauline, quelle princesse coquine !

#137 devore on 03.11.14 at 11:30 pm

Typical engineer, with a strong NIH attitude. There are hundreds of rent-vs-own calculators already, many of them verified by hundreds of people.

#138 omg on 03.11.14 at 11:34 pm


The election of another Quebec separatist will be an absolute HO-Hummer.

Nothing will happen – Quebecers are more tied in than ever to English Canada.

#139 to_be_frank on 03.11.14 at 11:34 pm

One more tweak to the spreadsheet: “Taxes+Insurance+Maintenance” costs increase every year, surely as much as rent. Edit cell C13 to =FV(F12,B6,B13) to correct this. Also, utilities costs are sometimes included in rent but are always borne by a homeowner, so add these into cell C12 if they are included in the rental property you are comparing against.

#140 Bottoms_Up on 03.11.14 at 11:35 pm

#75 Smoking Man on 03.11.14 at 9:04 pm
Quite funny isn’t it? They can tap Merkel’s cell phone, eavesdrop on Petrobras in Brazil, follow every single word on Canadian blogs and newspaper comment sections, track your every move by your cell phone metadata, bomb terrorists on the other side of the globe from an unmanned drone with the push of a button.

But track the location of a huge honkin’ airplane (i.e. weapon of mass destruction) with 239 people on board?

Not a chance.

#141 devore on 03.11.14 at 11:36 pm

Quebec isn’t going anywhere. Funny how as soon as the feds try to treat Quebec as a regular province that it is separatists get into power. Squeaky wheel and all that.

#142 to_be_frank on 03.11.14 at 11:37 pm

Correction – change cell C13 to =FV(F12,B6,-B13)

#143 mikef on 03.11.14 at 11:39 pm



I’ve lived in Quebec for 48 yrs.

*In Quebec today 250 to 300 people turn 65.

*There are more people in Quebec today that are over 64
than they are under 16.

Too many old people waiting for a pension.

I remember ex-Quebecer comedienne Carolyn Bennett
making a joke about the GST refund,well the PQ held focus groups after the referendum and many poor people told them they couldn’t let go of their GST refund.

*Separation is not a burning issue among the young


*The last CROP poll had YES support at 39%


Will Princess Pauline hold a referendum?

So why is she talking about it?

To peel off votes from Quebec Solidaire,Verts (Greens)
and Option National that get support from idealistic
young left-leaning francophones that used to automatically vote PQ in days gone by.

Much like Republicans in the States that talk up abortion
and gay marriage to sir up their base.

One thing for sure,Peladeau’s candidacy is a
game changer in Quebec politics that has not been
seen in 50 years.Indeed since the founding of the PQ
45 years ago.

*Peladeau is the right wing fox in the left wing henhouse.

*Peladeau crushed the unions at Quebecor to the point
where many of the PQ left leaning union base are
re-evaluating their vote


*The Lucides have their man in place.

The Lucides are a group of prominent Quebecers that have
sounded the alarm on Quebecs economy,lack of
competitiveness,debt and public finances.

The Journal de Montreal the last several years are full
of these Lucides people from the YES camp (Bouchard,Facale) to the NON (Ravary,Aubin,Mario Dumont,Samson) who harp on the fact that we can’t
go on like this.
Peladeau of course gave them an audience



Bottom line:

Much like Belinda Stronach,Peladeau didn’t get into politics to be a backbencher or a mascot.

He wants to be THE MAN

The PQ has definitely moved to the right since they can’t
out promise Quebec Solidaire.

If you love to see Canada remain united should you be worried ?

If you are a public service worker living in Quebec with
debt and a mortgage should you be worried?

#144 Not 1st on 03.11.14 at 11:40 pm

Garth have you ever lived in the west for any significant amount of time? If not i suggest you do then it won’t be long until you realize that when it comes to Quebec separating or even trying to cut a better deal, this time will be very different.

There will be NO concessions and if it crashes the economy, so be it. We can weather it and will emerge much stronger for it.

#145 omg on 03.11.14 at 11:45 pm


What you easterner do not understand is that it is most important to you that Quebec remain in. And by easterners I mean anyone east of Manitoba.

During the last referendum we had an informal working group of civil servants in the western provinces talking potential strategy if Quebec voted to negotiate new terms.

We came to the conclusion that the west could approach it as “what’s in it for us”. After all confederation has the greatest benefit to provinces east of Manitoba, so they should pony-up with some real concessions if you want to have the west agree to new confederation terms.

Unfortunatley, the NDP government in BC at the time was scared sh*tless about Canada breaking up, so would have given the farm away to appease Quebec.

Not so now. The rest of Canada has never been so far removed economically from the west as it is now.

So bring it on Quebec – let’s settle it once and for all and get a new deal for all of us.

So bring it on Quebec, lets

#146 45north on 03.11.14 at 11:48 pm

nonplused : But just to be serious for a moment, separation would probably be a big deal for Quebec, and not necessarily in a good way. Without Canada’s dual language laws, they are a lonely 4 million fighting to save their culture from the US machine with no help. Plus, I figure it could drive real estate in Montreal into the ground while buoying the rest of the country as the Italians, Greeks, etc. head for the exits. Montreal is very multi-cultural, and many of the residents may react badly to their new found oppression.

they are a very lonely 4 million. In contrast to the Spanish in the US – I don’t hear or see any Spanish in upper New York State nor in Detroit but there is simply a huge presence in New York City, Florida and Phoenix. To me it’s obvious that Quebec separation would be the end of the French language within a generation. I don’t think Pauline Marois cares. (elle s’en fiche!)

in both Ontario and Quebec, federal interests are diverging from provincial. It is in the interest of Ontario’s Liberal Government et celui du gouvernment PQ that house prices remain stable – or go up! The federal Conservatives can cut them off at the knees by tightening mortgage standards.

#147 Pope Snugglebums the 666nd (aka Nosty) on 03.11.14 at 11:51 pm

Jes’ wunderin. Would this be the reason why the US has the hotties for Russkyland?

SMan — It appears the machine is training sheeple to be good and obedient borgs. Not me! Rebel without a clue!

#148 Captain Yankee on 03.11.14 at 11:52 pm

nice spreadsheet, kinda chunky though but a good basic look I suppose.
This NYT page/applet is WAY sexier and has more perimeters to enter for a far more accurate number, including return on investment from otherwise squandered down payment. It even shows how long it takes to ‘zero out’ on a slick graph.
I mean who doesn’t love graphs on this blog!
I’ve commented and provided a link to this in the past but, alas, generated no interest or off color commentary.
I do show the page to anyone I meet when we argue rent v buy here in Vancouver. I always win the argument but only because I have the maths to back it up!

Keep up the good work Garth; say hi to your dog; (not the blog dog)


#149 R on 03.11.14 at 11:56 pm

# 93 Lee:
Not to mention , NHL Goalies also

#150 Mr. Reality on 03.11.14 at 11:56 pm


The big question is will the First Nation peoples of Quebec choose to leave Canada?

The answer: No, and all hell would break loose dealing with the outstanding land claims.

Now that is the real black swan which would turn the country of Quebec into an even worse welfare state.

Mr. R

#151 Bottoms_Up on 03.11.14 at 11:57 pm

#37 House squatter on 03.11.14 at 7:35 pm
If you give your money to Garth to manage, his position is that he could spit off $6000-7000 per month over the years. That certainly has got to rent you something better than your current 2200 sqft house? And obviously his recommendation doesn’t apply to everyone, everywhere. If you live in a small town that doesn’t have a decent rental stock, then obviously it makes no sense to follow his plan, or you would have to move to a different town.

#152 Investigator on 03.11.14 at 11:57 pm

I for one would be sad to see Quebec leave. It would be a mistake, and it would hurt everybody, just as in a divorce. Real-estate, if QC leaves, and if you own a house kiss its equity goodbye… Quebec is beautiful, and yes does have resources. Most of its people are just like you and me, trying to get by… and most are wonderful people too! But like in a divorce, life will go on, albeit changed forever. Sad, very sad….

#153 Bottoms_Up on 03.12.14 at 12:03 am

LOL the economist used flawed data in showing Canada’s housing market is in a bubble relative to rents. They based it on Statistics Canada CPI data, and from the horses mouth:

“Like the CPI in general, the rent index provides a measure of aggregate price change holding the quality of products constant (i.e., ‘pure price change’),” a Statistics Canada information officer said by e-mail. “Inferences concerning the change in the average prevailing market rents is not something that the rent index is designed to provide.”


Looks like the 30% overvalued (relative to income, which can be accounted for by low interest rates) is a more likely scenario than the 88% over-valued when looking at “average rents”.

#154 sasquatch on 03.12.14 at 12:05 am

From a economic stand point it always seemed that Quebec separating from Canada would be mutually destructive. I understand that separatists have a dream and that means reason be damned. Especially these days I question what and how much Quebec would gain from this. Especially being a have not province with ingrained organized crime.

One aspect I never hear much about is if it happens, who gets what in this divorce. Would Harper take pretty much every thing that has a maple leaf on it, and isn’t bolted down?

The Montreal Canadians would have to change their name?

#155 Calgary Conditional Owner on 03.12.14 at 12:25 am

#40 Potato on 03.11.14 at 7:42 pm

The spreadsheet you provided at


shows that renting will only catch up to owning by year sixteen (Alberta). The numbers work out for renting to be more profitable in the very long term, but looking at things from a net worth perspective, one big element to consider is that hopefully, one will continue to have a liquid portfolio with a certain return rate being produced aside from real estate. I believe owning a property out right is a very big part of being able to retire on the rest of your financial assets, plus is the best possible protection against inflation (moderate or galloping), which will most likely occur in the long run as well.

Thanks a lot for the calculator!

#156 airhead princess on 03.12.14 at 12:27 am

The Quebec question is little more than a rubber duckie…hardly a bold black swan. Don’t forget how the pollsters had the NDP ahead by a mile in the last BC election. You have to ask yourself….who are the pollsters….how are they funded…and what questions are they asking. Apparently in the last election poll in BC…they only polled the doped smoking derelicts at various east side bustops. Politicians and bias media spin out polls to attempt to assuage the public opinion…..a trick…hardly science…….never right….not even close.

Don’t think for a minute that the entire geography of Quebec goes along with the deal. Are you thinking that all those good little citizens and natives are going to go quietly into the night towards a citizenship of rascist xenophobes? A new Quebec would end up being two barns and a gas station….with Marois and the PQ lifting their skirts in the back room…..Black swan……please. Seriously peladeau is no Vladamir Putin…..he’s an inheritance case….no self made driven billionaire or leader in waiting.

#157 Whinepegger on 03.12.14 at 12:31 am

Though I in no way wish to see Quebec separate, I do wish them the PIA the First Nations community would be if they voted to secede. Get a bit of their own medicine forced down their throats. The part of Quebec that actually would become a country would be as small as a postage stamp.
Canada would be forced to go into ‘Quebec’ to defend the First Nations land if they wished to remain part of Canada – something which the First Nations have indicated in the past they’d want to do. Supreme Court would no doubt rule that ‘Canada’ would have a responsibility to defend First Nations land.
The PQ can wave whatever flag they want in the face of the RoC but if the RoC comes back with an unequivocal “We’ll defend the land of our country and the First Nations that helped establish it” the PQ might take a second breath before they spouted about independence and how easy and doable it is.

#158 Setting the Record Straight on 03.12.14 at 12:38 am

Just for the record, a millionaire is someone whose annual income is at least a million dollars.

#159 JL on 03.12.14 at 12:40 am

Good spreadsheet, I made a similar one in comparing renting vs buying and also in evaluating properties for investment.

As I’ve been consistently stating on this blog, for Calgary you put in honest numbers and it comes out in favor of buying about half the time and renting half the time.

I used the calculator on a couple of condo’s I currently own.

1) Worth $205,000, and rents for $1400 per month. Buying is up over 5 years and 10 years.

2) Worth $330,000, and rents for $1900 per month. Buying is up over 5 years and 10 years.

Thank you renters for paying my mortgages.

#160 James on 03.12.14 at 12:58 am

It so obvious that owning the long term is the better way financially. I can also share a spreadsheet without bias taking into account all costs.

#161 JL on 03.12.14 at 12:58 am


Exactly what I’ve been saying about the b/s Price to Rent Ratio outfits like the IMF and Deutsche Bank have been using for Calgary.

The ACTUAL price to rent ratio for Calgary is in the 14-20 range.

$320,000 properties consistently rent for $1600-$1700 per month (price to rent of 16.6)

$400,000 homes rent for $2000 per month (price to rent of 16.6)

$200,000-$220,000 condo’s rent for $1300-$1500 per month (price to rent of 12-13)

IMF and Deutsche Bank talk about Calgary having a price to rent ratio of 30! They are so full of crap; garbage in garbage out as they call it in the stats world.

I’m not making an argument on prices going up or down, or rents going up or down, I am talking about the current reality on the ground. The price to rent quoted as 30 is garbage, its off by a factor of 2!! Not 20% or 30% which could be explained away, but they are not even remotely in the ballpark.

The fact that Garth has used these quoted numbers previously as part of his argument is sad.

#162 sad on 03.12.14 at 12:59 am

I really hate it when quebec elects separatists. Let’s face it Quebec really is the only province with any class.

All the english speaking provinces can be summed up as american pick up truck loving, BBQ meat eating, date your sister cowboy wannabes.


Please don’t leave Quebec. We are stronger united.

#163 Scully on 03.12.14 at 1:18 am

As someone who has lived their entire life in BC I sincerely hope Quebec does not separate. Quebec has enriched and is responsible for many positive historical, cultural and economic aspects that makes up this country, and losing Quebec will feel not like losing a limb, but a major organ. As the ancients say, Hubris brings tragedy. Not because of arrogance, but the lack of perspective.

#164 Sherri on 03.12.14 at 1:20 am

#37 Ditto!

We, too, are trying to do the right (smart) thing and rent but are having trouble finding reasonably priced, well maintained housing, that isn’t offered for rent while listed on MLS…it’s hard moving a family of four every year because the owner decides to sell………..again…….lease be damned

#165 sad on 03.12.14 at 1:47 am

I really hate it when quebec elects separatists. Let’s face it Quebec really is the only province with any class.

All the english speaking provinces can be summed up as american pick up truck loving, BBQ meat eating, date your sister cowboy wannabes.


Please don’t leave Quebec. We are stronger united.

#166 Kilby on 03.12.14 at 1:59 am

#96 Quebec friend on 03.11.14 at 9:46 pm
Do not worry that much my follow canadian friends.

A recent poll from Quebec suggest that 61% of en talked about but most don’t want to leave Canada.

Just had dinner with an ex Montrealer who echoed the same thing, he said it has always been talked about but is just talk…

#167 OttawaMike on 03.12.14 at 2:06 am

Dispatch from a Canadian in Japan.

National Black swan event anniversary yesterday marking 3 years since the most costly disaster in modern world history.

Having spent the first week renting a Tokyo apartment Shibuya district I got to experience real Tokyo living. I am feeling somewhat like a Caucasian extra in Blade Runner with the sci-fi architecture and vibe here. My apartment is a typical 60s build 200 square-foot living space located immediately behind the main train station.
These condos sell for around $130,000 CAD and rent for $1500 CAD on a short-term basis. Tokyo’s real estate bust took over 10 years to play out. For reference, the Ginza district which is a 20 minute train ride away, was fetching $130,000/sq ft in 1989.

The evidence of Abenobics is everywhere as infrastructure projects abound and cranes are visible everywhere. The 2020 Olympics is a big discussion in the city.

As a weekend respite, I traveled to the historic Alpine mountain town of Takayama. Comparable in size to Kelowna and a four hour bullet train ride away, beautiful 1600 ft houses on large lots may be purchased for around half $1 million Canadian. Top notch mountain skiing is 1 hr away and costs 40$/day.

Deflation seems to be all the young generation here knows as they have never experienced rising prices only falling for the past 15 years. For example a lunch bowl of noodles in Tokyo sells for less than four dollars, half of what it cost in 1998. An American style hamburger also has dropped in price over the last 15 years.

#168 saltpony on 03.12.14 at 2:12 am

I just had this thought..

If the condo market is way over-flooded in 416; the new ones tiny and pricey with no resale, older ones needing $$ assessments.. there is no sound and solid entry market for the traditional way of thinking.. (uni residence -> renting with roommates -> back to parent’s basement -> renting again with girl/boy friend -> first condo purchase -> marriage + baby plans -> sell condo and first house purchase, yada yada).. well I was thinking that if the condo part is removed in this common viaduct all that is left is the semis that are going for $100000 over asking.

Nobody ever wants commodities that are in surplus. Nope.. we all want something that is rare and coveted, no matter what our demographic. I’ve not been to Toronto (West Coast and Prairie girl..), but I get the sense that there isn’t a glut of semis in the core hip 416 areas.

It doesn’t matter how you say it.. If you are a renter, you’re a loser.. and if you buy a ubiquitous condo, you’re just a plain stupid dumb idiot. So pick one.. Loser? Idiot? or Government + Financial-institution-sanctioned Debt and your in-laws/parents beam with pride? Emotion knows no bounds. Besides you get to pick out paint colours for the baby’s room!! (..and put it on your HELOC, oh yeah!)

PS.. Rebalance e-series funds? and get out of the Canadian Index before April 7? I’m new at this part.

#169 Happy Renting on 03.12.14 at 2:17 am

#99 Goldie on 03.11.14 at 9:55 pm

Prolonged exposure via proximity.

#81 montellino on 03.11.14 at 9:08 pm

“Loud noises!” Love your comment!

#65 Cici on 03.11.14 at 8:27 pm

The Quebec independence thorn I refer to is like a spouse constantly threatening to leave a marriage. Tiresome, and after decades of unsuccessfully trying to make the other happy one tends to examine the benefits of granting the endlessly-requested divorce.

As you said, “You can only give someone the middle finger so many times before there are consequences.” You meant H to Quebec, but the same thing goes for Quebec to the ROC. The other points you raise in comment #65 are not compelling in their logic.


#97 Mihai on 03.11.14 at 9:49 pm

Agree, interesting comments tonight.

#170 Angela on 03.12.14 at 2:24 am

Great post tonight, Garth, and last night, as well. We live in a duplex and hate having to tiptoe around the people downstairs when our kids wake up at 5am. We pay $1150 right now. My husband is like, “$1700 for a full house is out of the question. We’ll get a townhouse.” I ran the numbers on a townhouse or on a rental of a full house and the house comes out ahead. He saw the light when I put it this way: You’ll still have cash in the stock portfolio to manage and research; and you get a workshop/man cave and a garden! $1700 is stupid expensive for a rental, but it would be $2,600 to own a similar property at 5%.

#171 Future Expatriate on 03.12.14 at 2:39 am

Pick and choose….


#172 Future Expatriate on 03.12.14 at 2:41 am

Just think, all of this could have been avoided by taking Celine Dion, Bieber, and the Cruzes back…

#173 Fed-up on 03.12.14 at 3:00 am

Now we need a another threat of Quebec separation to correct our real estate market.

I guess common sense, intelligence and restraint were just far too easy.

#174 Exurban on 03.12.14 at 3:26 am

“Now she can point to a guy whose family was always federalist…”

I don’t believe that is accurate. Pierre-Karl’s father Pierre Péladeau was known as a PQ sympathizer. He gave Rene Levesque a job as a regular paid columnist in theJournal de Montréalin the 1970s — when the newspaper had no editorial content or regular political columnists, and Levesque was leader of the PQ but not an elected MNA.

#175 Eaglebay - VI on 03.12.14 at 4:35 am

#79 800 RMK on 03.11.14 at 9:07 pm
“On behalf of good ol boys from Alberta and Saskatchewan I say screw Quebec, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Big welfare state, nothing but a bunch of leeches sucking the wealth from Western Canada, always have been, always will. All their socialist bs programs are paid compliments of hard working Albertans.
Sincerely, Western Canadian Oilman.”

Hey big Oilman…
I’m from Alberta, hard working? No. Money hungry and no life? Yes. You sure can’t play hockey.
If you were smart, a big if, you should worry more about finding customers for “your” oil. An Eastern pipeline to Quebec to start. More likely than a Western pipeline or the XL pipeline.
How does it feel to be stuck between Saskatchewan and BC?

#176 John Shih on 03.12.14 at 5:53 am

Of course quebec would have to take their 137 billion of the debt with them. Don’t forget that Quebec is still a debater nation and they will still have to sell their future debt abroad. What international bond holders would dare buy up any Quebec debt in the future if they knew that quebec reneged on their existing debt.? Good luck with that. And setting up shop while floating 137 billion plus whatever their own cumulative provincial debt would be is not a good way to start a new nation. Seems to have parallels with 20somethings buying 700k homes in 416. This whole separatism nonsense will always be cloud hanging over canada. PQ, it is time to get over yourself and focus on running a tight ship rather asking others to subsidize your university students and day care. It is pay as you go like it is for everybody else.

#177 Buy? Curious? on 03.12.14 at 6:17 am

Most of Quebec’s revenue is due to blackmailing the rest of Canada. I’d let them go, give them a portion of Quebec and tell the to go watch Sing-a-long shows while eating poutine to their hearts content.

#178 liquidincalgary on 03.12.14 at 6:24 am

#55 Dr Wu
re: 911- that was a media hoax psyop sold as a Black Swan to the masses. There weren’t even any ‘attacks’.

really? doctor, my prescription for you: stop listening to ‘goast2goast am’.

#179 Montrealer on 03.12.14 at 7:02 am

FYI, I have updated the file again for small corrections. Same link so just re-download.

@#83 saskatoon on 03.11.14 at 9:10 pm: I will check if it’s possible, but the formulas are not *that* simple, especially the one to calculate the buying price equivalent to rent.

#180 Boombust on 03.12.14 at 7:05 am

If Marois and the PQ are so certain that people in Quebec want independence, they would run on the same platform the PQ adopted in the early 1970’s.

“A vote for the PQ is a DIRECT vote for independence”

It won’t happen and they know it.

#181 Steven on 03.12.14 at 7:16 am

Frankly I am surprised Canada isn’t a source of real estate refugees. Then again may be some are also priced out of the means of escape.

#182 truth seeker on 03.12.14 at 7:17 am

I truly hope that Quebec does not separate as it would be a huge loss for Canada. They contribute greatly economically and culturally (just look at all the Olympic athletes from Quebec).

My family and I have travelled to Quebec many times and immensely enjoyed the culture, food and breath-taking scenery. It is such a beautiful province.

As the saying goes “united we stand, divided we fall”.

#183 Not 1st on 03.12.14 at 7:45 am

Calgary real estate will soar now that it will be the capital city of western Canada.

#184 Buy? Curious? on 03.12.14 at 7:48 am

If Quebec leaves, can we start developing a new industry like Colorado has?


#185 Montréalais on 03.12.14 at 7:48 am

If the PQ holds a referendum, real estate will tank. But if real estate tanks first, the PQ won’t hold a referendum…

#186 gmc on 03.12.14 at 7:54 am

I thought this was settled by the way of what the land division of the New Quebec would end up with.
The Natives CLEARY said they would never separate and would stay with Canada. Wasn’t the NQ wedeled down to a fraction of the land their claim, so much for the revenue from that vast OIL well called James Bay.?? Just saying….

By the way, yes 1 miilion in sunny Thailand would give you a care free King’s life style, backed by better medical, dental, food, etc… and never have to shovel

#187 pbrasseur on 03.12.14 at 8:17 am

Regarding the Québec election.

It doesn’t look good for the Liberal at the moment, their campaign and leader seem particularly inept this time around, they seem to give reason to the widely shared perception that their party is tired and has nothing special or interesting to offer, all that surrounded by a well deserved aura of corruption.

The PQ is doing better, still in the thick of it, they have scored big with PKP who is despised by unionized medias but fairly popular within the general population, I don’t think attacks on him will yield much gains to the PQ’s opponents and are rather a waste of time which would benefit the PQ.

That leaves the CAQ, I must say that at the beginning I was prepared to vote Liberal, to me the lesser of evils, but I must admit I like what François Legault is saying about the hole that we are in and the challenges that we face, the state being too big, taxes too high, etc, he even said he would confront the unions, which is not common in these part.

So the CAQ is the wild card here, normally it has no chance of winning and a good performance by them would simply insure that the PQ would remains a minority, which would remove the possibility of a third referendum.

Yet surprises are possible, Quebeckers are fed up, angry and a wave similar to the federal orange wave is possible.

At his point I would give the possibility of a PQ majority a 50% chance and indeed it would be a disaster. Surely it would bring us to the bottom of the barrel, but in the end maybe that is what we need to get rid of this threat once and for all.

#188 241A65 on 03.12.14 at 8:31 am

Re: Quebec Referendum

Enough already with the separation BS!

The separatistes drove me, my parents, my brother and all my friends out of Quebec with their racist language laws and never-ending existential angst about their place in Canada. Fine, blow, take your share of the debt with you.

Garth – This could be like the ‘velvet divorce’ between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Don’t be so negative on ROC

#189 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 03.12.14 at 8:38 am

I can’t help but wonder if they (Quebec) contribute more to the Canadian economy than they cost. If they were to separate, after all was said and done, might the Canadian economy, even though suffering a 17% haircut of the gross, have a better bottom line?

Time to collaborate or separate Quebec.

#190 Bob Rice on 03.12.14 at 8:38 am

For the record, folks, an apostrophe is not required when referring to years. Example; 1980s NOT 1980’s. Apostrophe signifies possession..

#191 sven plunder on 03.12.14 at 8:39 am

This spreadsheet is unreliable. Just used the ‘fixed’ version. Consider our situation:

Cash in hand for cashdown / investment $300,000.00
Interest Rate (Fixed rate) 3.70%
Amortization (Max 25 years) 10
Number of Years for calculations 5
Enter Sale Price $850,000.00

First Year Monthly Rent $3,000.00

And it says: Renting is cheaper by $421,313.58

No way…

#192 };-) aka Devil's Advocate on 03.12.14 at 8:42 am

Sorry I meant 19.7%, although I always question those GDP and such numbers. How do they actually account for that with such accuracy as they purport? Seriously… but of course we believe as there could not possibly be a hidden agenda they want to support };-)

#193 Zeeman1 on 03.12.14 at 8:44 am


#194 PeterfromCalgary on 03.12.14 at 8:55 am

How do you say “don’t let the door hit you in the ass” in French.

#195 Steven on 03.12.14 at 9:05 am

As an Ontarian I hardly notice Quebec. Quebec is only important for Quebecers, brainwashed Canadians and the politicians. If Quebecers want independance I say fine. I want independance also.

#196 Jay on 03.12.14 at 9:21 am

Garth: where did you get all these interesting pictures? They make your blog better than most.

Family snaps. — Garth

#197 rosie "moving forward" in the knowledge that, "this won't end well" on 03.12.14 at 9:36 am

I especially like the source of this. Fraser institute as reported by Sun news.


#198 Daisy Mae on 03.12.14 at 9:40 am

#5 Canuck: “The last thing I ever want to see is Quebec leave Canada. Canada includes Quebec and always should – but if they really want to, I hope our leaders will make clear to them that the subsidy money flow to Quebec stops. Period. Independence is independence.”


If they want independence, it must be 100% independence….and can Quebec make it on THEIR own?

#199 Holy Crap Wheres The Tylenol on 03.12.14 at 9:52 am

At the time of Confederation, the province consisted only of the southern part of what is known as Lower Canada (Now Quebec). Almost half the population (42.5%) lived in the Montréal area. Elsewhere in the province, most settlers lived along the shores of the St. Lawrence, but settlements were beginning to take root in the Laurentians, on the shores of the Ottawa, Saint-Maurice and Saguenay Rivers, and in the Eastern Townships. When Confederation came into effect in 1867, the Hudson’s Bay Company began the transfer of the North-Western Territory and Rupert’s Land to the new Dominion of Canada. Canada in turn transferred about 50-60% of this land to the province of Quebec around the 1900’s. Just wait and see if they do separate how that goes when the Dominion of Canada and the native peoples say “we are not going with you”. The Cree are just looking for an excuse to kick Quebec in the poutine for the James bay hydro project, oh I forgot that’s in the land deal that the Dominion of Canada gave Quebec. We want it back. There goes your cheap hydro power PQ. Independence is a bitch if you can’t take all of your toys with you.



#200 Network Admin on 03.12.14 at 9:56 am

Try this spreadsheet. It is more mature in my opinion and has better defaults.

#201 Smoking Man on 03.12.14 at 9:57 am


Teranet numbers out…

Sorry basement vouch smith’s… No good news to report. No hockey stick formation for Toronto.

Above link has a chart where you can see, Toronto and what a hockey stick looks like.

#202 Montrealer on 03.12.14 at 10:02 am

#190 sven plunder on 03.12.14 at 8:39 am: No way why?
Your $300k plus closing fees of $17k generates a total of $406,824 at the end of 5 years. This is substracted from the rent and insurance cost of $187k so a real cost of housing of -$218k (true out of pocket of $187k plus cash in hand of $406k).
On the buy side, you will have spent $688k in mortgage, cashdown, clsoing costs, maintenance, etc. and have %507 left after selling… for a total cost of housing of $202k (and no cash in hand)
the difference between $202k in the hole and $218k left in your hand is really $421k difference.
Sorry if you don’t believe the numbers…

#203 jd on 03.12.14 at 10:09 am

Joke of the day:

#204 bigtown on 03.12.14 at 10:10 am

Quebec will not separate. Pauline Marois is not out to do her Quebec any harm. When we look at how Canada is now changing before our eyes I appreciate Pauline Marois’s effort to come to grips with this new Canada. There is major shifting coming out of Ottawa and Pauline Marois sees what the rest of Canada is missing. Always convenient to shoot the messenger. Quebec knows the reality of their economy and cannot be blamed for doing as much as possible to secure their future.

#205 Penny Henny on 03.12.14 at 10:13 am

Hey all you owners out there!!
Just for fun try pluging in the rent vs buy numbers appropriate for your situation when you actually purchased your home. So if you purchased in 2006, use 2006 numbers and see how much further you are ahead.

#206 Aggregator on 03.12.14 at 10:17 am

Quebec's GDP share is 19.2% as of Q4 2013; household debt as a share of total Canadian household debt is about 12.5% (Q3 '13), and their share of CMHC's portfolio is 19.7% (Q3 '13), that is enough to wipe out CMHC's tangible common equity if their housing market crashes.

They couldn't possibly secede without an economic disaster. So yes, Quebec matters.

#207 TSL on 03.12.14 at 10:27 am

#37 House squatter

Absolutely spot-on comment about renting. For most Canadian families with children (over 50% of households) there is NO rental stock, especially not in good neighbourhoods.

To the absolute discredit of the housing economists who keep parading out the rent vs.own scenarios, they are basing almost all their data on apartment and basement suite rentals.

Garth, the obvious reality for families with children is that there is no supply of appropriate housing as an alternative to ownership. None. I began a survey of 2 regions I lived in (North Burnaby and Halifax) and the % of family size rentals compared to owned housing was almost 77:1.

Rent vs. own is probably the most abused housing stat right now. In the US after the meltdown mortgage write-downs occurred precisely because there is NO market for family size rentals.

#208 Paul on 03.12.14 at 10:35 am

Well I have figured it out the most despised person in Canada according to the people on this blog must be a Realtor from Quebec! Sacré bleu!

#209 Dupcheck on 03.12.14 at 10:39 am

They can take little Justin Trudeau with them when they are out.

Do you really think the rest of Canada profits more from Quebec than they profit from the rest of Canada? We should have a calculator for that to really see what they are worth!

No country is strengthened by breaking apart. There’s a great deal of stupidity on this blog today. — Garth

#210 Brian Smith on 03.12.14 at 10:47 am

Use NYT’s calculator – much nicer: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html?_r=0

#211 jess on 03.12.14 at 10:57 am

CON fiddlence

re: http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/map-history-dollar/

The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s (commonly dubbed the S&L crisis) was the failure of about 747 out of the 3,234 savings and loan associations in the United States. A savings and loan or “thrift” is a financial institution that accepts savings deposits and makes mortgage, car and other personal loans to individual members – a cooperative venture known in the United Kingdom as a building society. In 1995, the RTC had closed 747 failed institutions, worth a book value of $402 billion, with an estimated cost of $160 billion.[1] In 1996, the General Accounting Office estimated the total cost to be $370 billion, including $341 billion taken from taxpayers.[2]

William K. Black wrote that Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve helped create a criminogenic environment for the Savings and Loans in 1979 by doubling the interest rate (to reduce inflation): S&Ls made long-term loans at fixed interest using short-term money. When the interest rate increased, the S&Ls could not attract adequate capital and became insolvent. Rather than admit to insolvency, some CEOs of S&Ls became “reactive” control frauds by inventing creative accounting strategies that turned their businesses into Ponzi schemes that looked highly profitable, thereby attracting more investors and growing rapidly, while actually losing money. This had two effects: it meant that the fraud continued longer and substantially increased the economic losses involved, and it attracted “opportunistic” control frauds who were looking for businesses they could subvert into Ponzi schemes.[3] For example, Charles Keating paid $51 million from Michael Milken’s junk bond operation for Lincoln Savings and Loan, which at the time had a negative net worth exceeding $100 million.[4]

11.Jump up ^ Bodie, Zvi. “On Asset-Liability Matching and Federal Deposit and Pension Insurance.” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review. July/August 2006, 88(4), pp. 323–29.

#212 Ret on 03.12.14 at 11:01 am

Quebec can’t separate. What would we do with all those French immersion teachers?

#213 r1200c on 03.12.14 at 11:02 am

the New York Times published a fantastic Buy vs. Rent calculator a few years back: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html
I have yet to find a better tool that incorporates all fields that should be considered into purchasing a home (including personal rate of return, speculative movement of increases in rent or property values etc…)

and nifty graphs too… ;)

#214 Ralph Cramdown on 03.12.14 at 11:03 am

Nemesis, well said about Quebec. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I think I’ll take the wife’n’kidney for a short visit to Montreal tomorrow..

As to nuclear power, if I have to watch Kurt Russel in movies to get it, than so I shall — but I won’t enjoy it.

#215 jess on 03.12.14 at 11:03 am

the ballot question:

immediate “reunification” with Russia,

adopting the “1992 constitution” — which gives parliament the power to vote to join Russia.

where’s the third?

#216 JT on 03.12.14 at 11:08 am

what a great spreadsheet … thanks Etienne and thanks Garth for posting it. This kind of contribution makes blogs like this very useful and a good resource.

#217 JT on 03.12.14 at 11:10 am

Etienne — what about making up a similar spreadsheet to weigh the pros and cons of buying a property as a rental versus putting the capital in a balanced portfolio? Might be interesting for some of us.

#218 Enthalpy on 03.12.14 at 11:17 am

The newyork times has a useful online tool for this reason.
But this is still cool to have as well. Thanks for sharing!

#219 Marc on 03.12.14 at 11:22 am

The calculator appears to be wonky if I decide to pay cash. Say townhouse cost 300000 and I pay 299000 down payment (however unlikely) the spreadsheet blows up in favor of renting?

I do love the calculator Etienne maybe I’m doing something wrong :-)


#220 april on 03.12.14 at 11:24 am

According to Auzzie Durock with the new marijuana rules starting in April people with rental real estate are going to see a lot more grow-ops happening in their rental investments.

#221 Castaway on 03.12.14 at 11:24 am

If this were to come to pass and Quebec seperated both parties would lose, big time. Foreign investment dries up, dollar craters, adversarial negotiations and the list goes on. However one thing is certain, the biggest loser would be Quebec.

This isnt about culture or respect, it is about a handful of people living in the past wanting to cement their legacy in the history books. Pauline, wake up, it is 2014, not 1990!

#222 pinstripe on 03.12.14 at 11:35 am

The prairie wheat shipments are based on wheat being 13% protein and 87% politics, whereas the Quebec noise is based on 100% politics.

Where I live we have a mish mash of English, german, French, Ukrainian, polish, Italian, muslim, etc. Everyone is in favor to let Quebec go and do what they perceive as their future.

If quebec should go, nothing will change in our daily lives. The sun will rise and the sun will set.

The fear mongering is coming from the politicians themselves. Who wants their name in the history books, as being the leaders, when the plug is pulled on quebec?

Not the sun you should worry about. — Garth

#223 mr-b on 03.12.14 at 11:48 am

Ok, tried the calculator. Didn’t work for me. I bought a house outright for $75k. No mortgage. Broke the calculator. Rent @ $1k per month is 12k per annum.

$75k invested @ 5% gives me $3750 per year less investment fees. How would renting be better when I save $8250 in pre tax dollars in the first year?

Houses are not increasing 2% per year here.

#224 Petty Marois on 03.12.14 at 11:52 am

“Federal meddling with mortgage rules a threat to Canada’s housing market: report”

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/federal-meddling-with-mortgage-rules-a-threat-to-canada-s-housing-market-report-1.1725670

#225 Ogopogo on 03.12.14 at 11:53 am

Love the calculator. More ammo against house pumpers among my friends and family. Even after pushing the time frame to 20 years I’m still saving 1,546.00 per month.

In the 5-yr. frame, I’m saving $3,275.00 per month. Realtors, cry me a river.

#226 Spiltbongwater on 03.12.14 at 12:18 pm

I couldn’t care less if Quebec leaves. They are the adopted red haired child that nobody wants. They will turn out like the French, where they don’t want to fight in any war, but want the rest of the allies to save their sorry behinds when they get occupied.

Ever heard of the Van Doos? — Garth

#227 TRT on 03.12.14 at 12:21 pm

Vancouver and Calgary SFD homes have again set record highs!!!!

Still perplexed why after a decade of run up in prices????

Its immigration stupid. something that is forbidden to be discussed on this blog

if it was lax cmhc rules, low interest rates. etc…..Montreal would rival Vancouver and Toronto in price.

Zero evidence immigration is the cause. BTW, Montreal receives far more new citizens than Vancouver. — Garth

#228 Raginnn on 03.12.14 at 12:26 pm


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be eliminated and private interests would be on the hook for the first ten percent of mortgage losses under a bill that leaders of the Senate Banking Committee plan to introduce within days.

Yes we need less Government meddling and more free market!

#229 Montrealer on 03.12.14 at 12:34 pm

#223 mr-b on 03.12.14 at 11:48 am:
Calculator works. If you put 75k as cashdown and buy a 75k house, the total cost of housing is $11k once sold at the same price. So it costs you 181 a month.
If you rent at $1k and invest $75k plus closing costs of $1500, then you have $98k in your pocket after 5 years and have spent $63k in rent.. thus having a net gain of $35k at the end.
Not sure where you believe it’s not working.
The more cash on hand you have, the best renting is, which is normal as your cash generates interest where the cashdown doesn’t if the house doesn’t increase in value.

#230 Montrealer on 03.12.14 at 12:37 pm

#219 Marc on 03.12.14 at 11:22 am:
It’s because your large amount of cash for a cashdown generates a large amount of growth. If you check in cell F19, it tells you the cost of rent, but if you use that then you need to factor in that you have the amount in G18 in your bank account.
That’s why the more cashdown you put, the best renting is.
Someone that has 1 million dollars and rents can rent and still make money in the end. Where if they buy a house and the house sells for the same price in 5 years, that money has not gained interest.

#231 Montrealer on 03.12.14 at 12:38 pm

#218 Enthalpy on 03.12.14 at 11:17 am:
Mortgage payment sin the US are not calculated the same was as in Canada. So the NYT tool is not accurate. It doesn’t have CHMC either.

#232 bad sheet on 03.12.14 at 12:43 pm

The sheet is not valid. It doesn’t include investing the difference of the rent monthly cost – buy monthly cost

#233 Ray Skunk on 03.12.14 at 1:03 pm

I applaud the creativity of the sheet, but I have to echo others in that something is wrong.

Etienne’s sheet shows that – unless RE appreciation is 1% or less – I’m better off buying.

This is for a $500k house with 20% down.
Current rent is a whopping $750/mo.

The NY Times calculation shows that buying NEVER comes out ahead for me, which is what I would have thought given my peanuts rent.

#234 Cici on 03.12.14 at 1:05 pm


Your friend Will Dunning suddently thinks that Canadian home prices are fairly, if not UNDERvalued, and that Ottawa should stop “meddling” by trying to slow it down. Of course, he doesn’t suggest that Ottawa stop meddling by handing out wads of cash hot off the CMHC printing presses…

The endless idiocracy continues:

#235 Panhead on 03.12.14 at 1:09 pm

#190 Bob Rice on 03.12.14 at 8:38 am
For the record, folks, an apostrophe is not required when referring to years. Example; 1980s NOT 1980′s. Apostrophe signifies possession..


Well that’s good to know …

#236 Dave D on 03.12.14 at 1:14 pm

Would be amazing to get rid of the mandatory french writing on all products sold in Canada. Also make it easier for US companies to export products to Canada, they wouldn’t have to print separate labels. It definitely is a small part of why things are 30% cheaper in the USA, even when the dollar was at par.

#237 Fodork on 03.12.14 at 1:19 pm

With China cracking and a shadow banking system which is N times GDP, a tight credit squeeze is already on in China. It is very possible that rich Chinese will have to unload property investments all over the world, to pay their business bills locally. Worth watching how this plays out. Watch copper as it reflects China and its shadow banking system quite well.

#238 Holy Crap Wheres The Tylenol on 03.12.14 at 1:21 pm

Shouldn’t her sign say “aider” ?

#239 Lurker on 03.12.14 at 1:25 pm

#37 House squatter:
You need to look for rentals around the last few days of the month into the first few days of the new month. Otherwise, only the overpriced/unrentable stuff is available. You may need to look for several months before finding something suitable to your needs. My family rent a nice place in Burnaby for 2k month and it took us a few months to find it.

#240 james on 03.12.14 at 1:25 pm

Just had a chance playing the spreadsheet.

Cash in hand for cashdown / investment $200,000.00
Interest Rate (Fixed rate) 5.00%
Amortization (Max 25 years) 25
Number of Years for calculations 25
Enter Sale Price $800,000.00
Appreciation [% Yearly | Total] 5.00%
First Year Monthly Rent $2,200.00

Buying is cheaper by $1,062,045.87 ($3,540.15 / month)

#241 Julia on 03.12.14 at 1:35 pm

Hoard croissants. — Garth

Haha! Too bad a great French croissant doesn’t stay fresh and delicious much longer than a plate of poutine.

I agree with those who say in the end Quebec won’t separate. I think most Quebecois want to stay and those who are on the fence will come to realize they have more to lose than to gain by going.

I don’t blame them for threatening though. It’s been a very effective power play in the past for getting heard. I feel bad for francophone communities outside Quebec. They only stand to become more marginalized without Quebec.

#242 toronto landlord on 03.12.14 at 1:37 pm


#243 LP on 03.12.14 at 1:39 pm

#236 Dave D on 03.12.14 at 1:14 pm
Would be amazing to get rid of the mandatory french writing on all products sold in Canada. Also make it easier for US companies to export products to Canada, they wouldn’t have to print separate labels.
Many of the labels on US products also feature Spanish since that is the language of much of their population. If you think they’ll print unilingual labels for our small market then I would suggest you are deluded.

#244 Not 1st on 03.12.14 at 1:51 pm

Garth you sound like the same sympathizers from 1995 encouraging people to ride the buses to Ottawa to plead for a “non”.

Times have moved on. Yup it’s not great for a country to be divided but eventually the reality if two different people’s who are this far apart needs to be realized. Ukraine, Scotland, Sudan Canada and probably the Deep South if the USA too. Nothing to be scared of just reality.

If there is an economic impact to be felt it will be 10 times worse in Quebec especially when those transfers stop and 20% of the debt is transferred to them. Then the native bands separating from Quebec to rejoin Canada.

Try the experiment Queen Pauline. You will be running back to ROC with hat in hand in a matter of years.

#245 LP on 03.12.14 at 1:54 pm

#158 Setting the Record Straight on 03.12.14 at 12:38 am
Just for the record, a millionaire is someone whose annual income is at least a million dollars.

I believe you’re wrong. A millionaire, whose holdings throw off annual growth sufficient to live on and not eat capital, remains a millionaire without needing “income” of $1M annually.

#246 Chickenlittle on 03.12.14 at 1:57 pm

#117 Inglorious Investor:

I miss ol’ Jean myself.

He was a good guy. How many Quebeckers would say that about him? As Rick Mercer once said about him,”Just one look at that man’s face has most Quebeckers running straight for the Immodium bottle.”

It was also a lot of fun to watch the parodies of him on 22 minutes and Air Farce.

Hey, Garth! Were you ever parodied on one of those shows? If so, publish the link.

#247 EB on 03.12.14 at 2:00 pm

It may be inevitable at some point – there’s nothing sacrosanct or inevitable about the current confederation, and lots of countries have gone through similar things. If it ended up going there, I’d like to see Canada be an example to the world of how you do it in a reasoned, civilized way.

#248 Victor V on 03.12.14 at 2:02 pm


A legacy of plant closings is part of the mess former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney left behind when he departed for the Bank of England last year, says CIBC World Markets economist Avery Shenfeld.

Mr. Shenfeld slammed Mr. Carney for allowing a “serious overvaluation” of the dollar by not stemming a flood of “hot money” into Canada as the country’s trade deficit ballooned between 2010 and mid-2013.

A spokesman for Mr. Carney said the Bank of England governor would not comment.

“In effect, monetary and exchange rate policy traded off more condos for fewer factories,” Mr. Shenfeld argued – a rare shot at the widely praised Mr. Carney.

“The legacy of … plant closures will be with us for years to come.”

#249 TRT on 03.12.14 at 2:05 pm

Zero evidence immigration is the cause. BTW, Montreal receives far more new citizens than Vancouver. — Garth

So why do most live there less than 2 years and move? Or put another way, where are the immigrants in Montreal? Or where the heck did the ones in Vancouver appear from (out of thin air?)

The evidence is there if you wish to see it. But, you already know that.

#250 TheCatFoodLady on 03.12.14 at 2:05 pm

‘Aider’ is too generic. ‘Au secours’ is more the equivalent to ‘HELP!’

#251 Nemesis on 03.12.14 at 2:09 pm

#DansD’autresNouvelles #ChantDuCygne #RepérerLaDifférence

Aujourd’hui: http://tinyurl.com/nxty2lg

‘Hier’: http://youtu.be/8l6KhHROT_s

#252 srv on 03.12.14 at 2:11 pm

“the US – now in the flower of a slow but steady recovery”

U know that kool aid is really bad stuff Garth!

Link to Wall Street profits graph, showing the real “recovery” target (they recovered all the losses in 2009 while the rest of the world economy was reeling).


Bankers got the entire recovery thanks to Ben B (who is now rewarded with $250,000 for a single speaking appearance… and many more to come). The so called recovery is simply crumbs falling through the cracks!

. Heinz outgoing CEO gets $110M bonus as company closes plants and lays off 3,400 workers “to boost profit!”

. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon gets $10M RAISE as JPM pays out record $20B in fines… for cheating customers and breaking most every regulation enacted to control them.

. JP Morgan in house trading desk has zero losing days in 2013 (think they may have some kind of unfair advantage)… say it ain’t so Joe!

. HFT house Virtu reported one losing day in 4 years of trading… that’s 1238 trading days. Of course they pay the exchanges to “co locate” their computers with the exchange’s… the better to fleece you with my dear!

Would you “invest” your retirement funds in a poker game where the dealer starts off with two aces every hand?

It’s a small, closed tribe and you’re not in it… please don’t feed the beast… no matter what some Greater Fool tells you!

#253 Same story since 2007 on 03.12.14 at 2:15 pm

Not everyone can use the same criteria in the spreadsheet… I have amortized for 40 years with low monthly payments ( nearly half of rent), but can pay 20% additional each year… Planning to clear the mortgage in 5 years. Already 40% cleared in 2 years. So after 5 years majority of the costs are eliminated and can invest after that with no debt.

#254 learningfromyou on 03.12.14 at 2:16 pm

#37 House squatter on 03.11.14 at 7:35 pm

?What is the point?
Is this your question?
So I tell you my version if I was in your shoes.

I pass one week looking from places in Canada or US where to live from my investments, at the same time that in rush I try to sell the freaking house.

I have a friend living in a nice neighborhood in Central Florida in a freaking nice house with swimming pool, he bought it cash and he told me that with 3000 dollars per months he is king there. Your investments will pay for your expenses big time.

Then you bought something more important in life read it carefully buddy


you can do in the daily basis whatever you want.

And now you tell me that you want to keep living in your neighborhood?
Your problem is not about money, it’s about perception and priorities.

Think about it.

#255 heineken on 03.12.14 at 2:20 pm

good bye quebec
who needs you anyways.
i have a french canadian neighbour who speaks to me in english. as soon as 1 of his french buddies comes along. he starts speaking french canadian and stops talking to me in english.
they are all rude like that.

Maybe it’s you. — Garth

#256 Bad news for Condo Pumpers AKA Brad Lamb on 03.12.14 at 2:22 pm

TD report just lowered the boom on Condos…would love to see Brad Lambs “revised” condo flyer now after the last one showed 280% returns in 5 years LOL!


#257 Hamsta on 03.12.14 at 2:22 pm

Black Swan.

I too don’t really care about Quebec. However, separation would be the nuclear winter for the Canadian economy.

I don’t think it will really happen and here’s why….

Primarily, I don’t see the young men of the province up in arms (literally) crying out over some kind of intolerable injustice being foisted upon them. When you see some demonstrations with male and female protesters, well that’s just a dating opportunity. When you have pissed off 19 year-old males with AK-47 machine guns and pipe bombs – well THEN you have real trouble.

From here in Ontario, the young men of Quebec seem generally satisfied with life, booze, poutine, video games and girls. They want a nice life and will likely get one if things stay the same. No revolutionary zeal there. But that’s where real revolutions originate.

Its funny to listen to the ongoing conversation about Quebec which is like listening to a bickering couple contemplating divorce. Pensions, property, who gets the dog… Any if anything still needs to be resolved, well, “we’ll go to court!”. Yeah like breaking up a long standing country is going to happen by calling in the high priced lawyers. Not exactly like we have an Arab spring on our hands, right?

Quebecers are being lulled into the sense that it really IS going to be like a velvet divorce, and afterwards they are still friends but get to date other people and maybe take a tolerable financial hit. Someone needs to wake them up and soon.

Also, I don’t think the US would appreciate a wild card on the border that is broke and subject to undue influence from unfriendly countries with money. Nuff said.

The true picture is likely to be bloodier than most nice Canadians would see in their worst nightmares. And everybody loses.

The boomer generation in Quebec that wants to split are the chattering classes who feel left out. Let’s face it – no one really listens to them outside of Quebec. How awful that the world can’t appreciate their awesome awesomeness. We need to hold out till they die off.

A referendum itself will be costly. A won referendum will be worse. A breakup of Canada – not likely.

#258 Nemesis on 03.12.14 at 2:38 pm

#QuelleSurprise! #AuRevoir, Vancouver #LaNouvelleBulleCalifornieDuLlogement

[LAT] – Housing prices surpass bubble peak in some Southland ZIP Codes

…”Home prices in a dozen Southern California ZIP Codes have passed their peaks during the housing bubble, according to research firm DataQuick. Most are either in the San Gabriel Valley, a magnet for buyers from Asia, or on the Westside, where the technology industry is booming.

Across the region, home prices remain far below their peaks despite an explosive run-up in the first half of 2013. But nominal prices in some affluent neighborhoods have entered uncharted waters.

The return of bubble-era pricing could foreshadow a spillover effect, experts said. As buyers get priced out of prime areas, they may look to adjacent neighborhoods — juicing demand there and pushing up prices.

“A lot of the action is at the higher end of the market,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner at Beacon Economics. “That is what is driving the show.”

Many other regional markets have stalled since last summer. Higher prices and mortgage rates, along with a shortage of homes, have turned off many would-be buyers. Sales have tumbled overall, but they continue to climb in wealthy communities.

Of the 12 ZIP Codes where the non-inflation-adjusted median price has passed its bubble-era peak, six are in the San Gabriel Valley and one is in affluent Irvine. All are hubs for buyers from China looking to move to the U.S. or invest here.”…

#259 Nemesis on 03.12.14 at 2:40 pm


#260 BillyBob on 03.12.14 at 2:47 pm

My god, the necks are pretty red in the comments tonight. Thankfully there are a few levelheaded ones evening things out, but seriously I have to wonder how many of the people wishing for a breakup of their home country have passports. Or speak a word of another language other than their own. Or have been to Quebec. Hell, have ever been more than 30km from their home town.

I’m working overseas for a company that employs over 48,000 people from 160 different nationalities. In my own particular job there are people representing 83 different nations. Everyone gets along, and the work and living environment gives new meaning to the term “multi-culture”.

Yet, there are those in Canada who feel the situation will be enhanced by the loss of one of the founding cultures?

A gent from Quebec offers up a spreadsheet he made himself as a gift to the forum and the same readers deride his home province? It’s embarrassing.

I love Canada, but seriously the place is looking more and more like amateur hour and duelling banjos.

Don’t know how you do it, Mr. Turner. Patience of a saint. I’d have turned my back in disgust long ago.

#261 Spiltbongwater on 03.12.14 at 3:00 pm

#260 BillyBob on 03.12.14 at 2:47 pm

I have a passport, speak 2 languanges. English, and Tagalog. I was born in Quebec City, and can understand French, but cannot speak it well enough to hold a conversation.

If the Quebeckers vote to leave, then I say good riddence to them. Good luck having an economy releying on Hydro, maple syrup and cheese curds.

Ever heard of Bombardier, BCE, Alcan or CN? — Garth

#262 jess on 03.12.14 at 3:14 pm

#237 Fodork

….the latest entrants into banking…all competing for those depositors /sellin’high-yielding wealth management products rational to help those small to med. enterprises

CBRC approved are:

#263 Sheane Wallace on 03.12.14 at 3:24 pm

It seems houses in Canada are actually undervalues:


Such stupidity hurts.

#264 Anthony S on 03.12.14 at 3:26 pm

If Quebec keeps the CAD, as they have always maintained they would, then I fail to see why seperation would have any long term effect on the dollar.

There is a great deal of fear mongering and misinformation with regards to the sovereignty movement. If it ever happens, it would be more of a civil split than an economic or military one. Quebec would like to make their own laws vis a vis the environment, personal rights and social spending.

#265 espressobob on 03.12.14 at 3:33 pm

#252 srv

The S&P 500 made 30 points last year, closer to 40 for anyone owning it in USD. Some kool aid? Some even take profit! The cynical mentality of ‘bear herd’ never ceases to amaze!

Buy the way, CEO’s are in fact well paid to make their shareholders lots of profit!

#266 Sheane Wallace on 03.12.14 at 3:36 pm

I stopped reading at:
‘Canadians aren’t dumb’

#267 Sheane Wallace on 03.12.14 at 3:39 pm

undervalued, spellchecker be damned…

#268 Montrealer on 03.12.14 at 3:54 pm

For all of you that have commented on the spreadsheet using the invested money towards rent, I have made all three scenarios.
1- Offset rent with the total investment and interest
2- Offset rent only with interest
3- Don’t offset rent and keep the investment

That’s where the large difference came from with the NY Times method, where they don’t consider that you still have a cashdown at the end of the scenario.

you just have to re-doanload the file

#269 Renter's Revenge! on 03.12.14 at 4:02 pm

“Ever heard of Bombardier, BCE, Alcan or CN? — Garth”

I just had a vision of Quebec and Western Canada playing a game of “Red Rover”, with Western Canada calling those corporations over. Think it’ll ever happen?

#270 Diana on 03.12.14 at 4:15 pm

Thank you for the toy. I bought a few years ago, and was told by all and sundry I was making a terrible mistake. (Of course, I expected that response when I posted it on here. Anyone who doesn’t obviously hasn’t been paying attention.) According to the calculator, two years in I still would have been better if I’d rented, but anything above 5 and the balance shifts the other way.

Again, thanks for the toy Etienne, and thank you Garth for the always entertaining and informative blog.


#271 Don on 03.12.14 at 4:24 pm

Houses are undervalued, reports various news outlets as linked above in the comments – according to the economist for the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals.

Honestly, how does a press release like that get past the editor’s desk to be taken seriously by anyone? It’s one thing for newspapers to ignore their conflicts of interest when reporting on their biggest advertisers, but it’s another to be actively complicit in their spin.

#272 Arthur on 03.12.14 at 4:26 pm

The “Renting is cheaper by [] if you use your investment towards rent” is flawed as it basically subtracts out the cash in hand from the buying side but does not from the renting side. Try putting in a 1 million down payment on a 1 million dollar sale price for example. Renting will be over 1 million dollars cheaper than buying even at $5000/month rent.

#273 Godth on 03.12.14 at 4:34 pm

If Quebec separates…Hydro Quebec to be privatised in 3,2,1…?

#274 Vaco on 03.12.14 at 4:58 pm

There is a small problem with the spreadsheet in that it assumes that ‘Taxes Insurance and Maintenance’ will remain fixed for the term of ownership, cell C13 should be modeled after the calculation for Annual Rent Increase. Assuming that the rent and the fixed costs are both following inflation, cell C13 should be =FV(F12, B6, -B13).

What this spreadsheet shows is that because of the compounding of the houses value (2% per year) the ‘money made’ will grow exponentially.

HOWEVER! What gets left out (and is beyond my Excel skills) is what happens to the excess monthly money the renter has for the first few years?

For example: If the owner is paying $1800 (Mortgage + Insurance + Maintenance) per month for the first few years and the renter is paying $1500 per month the excess $300 is being spent on… beer? If it was invested at the compound rate (F18) this fund would grow exponentially as well and compensate (or probably exceed) the exponential growth of the houses value.

#275 Penny Henny on 03.12.14 at 4:58 pm

Rent vs Buy.
My house current value about 600k.
let’s say I sold and invested that money in a balanced account returning 7%, but I only take out 5% and leave the rest in there to account for inflation. So 5% of 600K is 30,000/yr.
Now if I want to rent a comparable house it would cost about $2500 per month, or 30,000/yr.
All equal so far but as an owner I still have to pay property tax, $3500, and maintenance, very low as I am a DIY’er.
But, and a BIG BUT it is, my house is appreciating at 5-6% per year (even higher last year), more than the 2% to account for inflation.
Also to note rent will generally trend higher with inflation.
No contest, renting loses (or looses for many of you).

#276 Vancouver RE agent on 03.12.14 at 5:13 pm

Quebec splitting yet another can of gasoline in Vancouver RE. That is why Vancouver condos are a real money maker. You just cant go wrong. Myself and all my buddies started in RE 7 years ago with ZERO down and we are all now multi-millionares.

#277 airhead princess on 03.12.14 at 5:21 pm

“Mrs Bluesky on 03.11.14 at 7:23 pm
Hmmmm… I’m in the middle of transferring a Sunlife LIRA and an RRSP account from the bank to self-directed plans. All the mutual funds will be first converted to cash. Maybe instead of investing it all again into EFT’s right this second, I should wait a month? Then when everyone is doing their black swan freak-out, I could buy low?”

Blue…….By your own admission…you are an unsophisticated investor and have no idea how to approach the stock market…..let alone time it correctly. You best bet ( even if you have to use etf’s ) is to buy incrementally and equally across the five sectors of the economy….and don’t try to buy low and sell high…..you’ll only end up losing money.

You’d do yourself a favor by avoiding the market altogether for at least a year while you educate yourself on investments. A decent insight to timing can be had reading Brooke Thackary ‘ Thackrays 2014 Investors Guide’…..Its like a farmers almanac of market mechanics and offers simple strategies on seasonality and general rotation concept.

BTW…you can transfer those accounts to a self directed ‘in kind’….so as not to incur any disposition costs. You might want to check the latest stats on mutual fund performance this quarter….many are actually doing better than etfs in this period……and some managers have been earning their keep for a change….don’t be in such a hurry to jump if this is the case with yours.

#278 TheCatFoodLady on 03.12.14 at 5:23 pm

Somebody asked for Rick Mercer/Garth? How about this short gem? About 48-49 seconds in:


#279 Industrial Guy on 03.12.14 at 5:32 pm

Would an independent Quebec survive? Well …. hard to say. I do know one thing. Funding for the Economic Council of Canada was terminated in 1992 by then Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney after it published a report suggesting that the separation of Quebec from Canada might not be the disaster for Canada he claimed it would be. Prime Minister Harper is not the only one in Ottawa with a history trying to control the message when much smarter people disagreed with him.

Oh yeah … one other thing.
Albertans ….. Please STOP with all this whining about the National Energy Program. It was a sharp decline in WORLD crude oil prices ( $100 a barrel to $40 a barrel) which began only a few months after the NEP came into force that caused all the economic hardship. I guess Pierre Trudeau was responsible for that too, eh?

#280 pinstripe on 03.12.14 at 5:33 pm


#281 Vamanos Pest on 03.12.14 at 6:04 pm

#275 Penny Henny
Fair argument, but you’ve made a couple assumptions which I think are, well, unfair.

The biggest is you’ve compared the long term average returns of a balanced/diversified portfolio to the returns in real estate over “the last few years”. If you compare long term averages to long term averages, then the appreciation of the house would pretty much mirror inflation (which is what real estate does over the long term, with cyclical outperformance/underperformance based on the direction of interest rates). So compare the 7% invested to 2-3% on the house.

If you’d rather compare “the last few years”, then a balanced/diversified portfolio has returned more like 12% over the past several years.

If you re-run the numbers with apples-to-apples assumptions as far as returns go, you’ll find a different result.

#282 dothemath on 03.12.14 at 6:09 pm

Thanks for the spreadsheet. The numbers don’t lie. I have done it both ways – owned for 20 years and rented for last 5. No contest and my owned house almost tripled in value. After accounting for maintenance, taxes, interest, improvements and selling costs I figure about 4% IRR on owning. IMO reasons for owning should be strictly non-financial – no risk of having to move, have the ability to customize, etc.. That old wives tale about paying someone else’s mortgage needs to be changed to be careful about ‘having a pile of dead money that costs you to maintain’ or ‘renting a pile of money from the bank to pay for a needy asset’.

Really enjoying the Rent v Buy discussion, separation not so much!

#283 Dual Citizen in Canada on 03.12.14 at 6:55 pm

#275 Penny Henny on 03.12.14 at 4:58 pm
So sell your home, realize your gain, invest it, have your investment gains pay for a place for you to live. And hey, guess what, you still have $600+K in the bank!
If you think your house with gain 5-7% every year, you will never realize your gains and keep rolling the dice. Folks, this is what’s wrong with home owners today. The greed overwhelms the rational thoughts.

#284 Mark on 03.12.14 at 7:10 pm

“Interest Rate (Fixed rate) 5.00%”
“Appreciation [% Yearly | Total] 5.00%”

Very unrealistic.

#285 espressobob on 03.12.14 at 7:43 pm

#33 Bluesky
#277 airhead princess

Theres no shame having ones portfolio professionally managed with an a financial advisor. A mistake or two by a DIY investor can be quite costly. Why wait a year to enter the markets? Another mistake?

Investing is one tough subject! Bluesky can learn on the side if so inclined.

#286 Montrealer on 03.12.14 at 9:51 pm

To all that sent me messages here and by email, I have changed yet again the sheet.
Now the cashdown is removed from both totals, meaning the “total cost of housing” on both sides infer that you have your cashdown back on hand.

Just re-download the file.

Let me know if you have any comments.

#287 Dan in Mtl on 03.13.14 at 12:48 am

@Keith #24
“The economy of la belle province is based on four cornerstones……
-Fruit pickers
-Maple Syrup
-Taxpayer extortion”

Exactly, and Bombardier, CGI and SNC-Lavalin mostly hire fruit pickers and strippers …

#288 Paul on 03.13.14 at 7:00 am

So tired of Quebec holding separation over our head. “You guys better give us more or we will leave and cause all kinds of economic problems for you”. Bite the bullet and let them go… see how fast a startup collapses.