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Quebec Falls Behind Canada

A linguistic rift divides Canada in economics as well as politics.

Among the four most productive provinces, French-speaking Quebec has the highest unemployment rate, about 12.5 percent. Unemployment rates in English-speaking Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia run between 9 and 6 percent.

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"Language laws and secessionist squabbles may be part of the reason," says Tony Riley, director of research at A. Gary Shilling & Co., economic consultants in Springfield, N.J.

But it's also the more market-oriented economic philosophy of the English-speaking provinces, he adds.

State control of industry - designed originally to lessen the power of English-speakers in the economy - is "the norm" in Quebec, Mr. Riley finds. Labor laws are restrictive.

"The Quebec government is more involved and more intrusive," says Tim O'Neill, chief economist at the Bank of Montreal/Harris Bank in Toronto.

In English-speaking provinces, and to a lesser degree in Quebec, governments have been cutting deficits and shrinking generous welfare programs.

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