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The Canadian dollar has declined by over thirty percent versus the United States dollar since it was at its highest in 1970 The reason for this is mainly the following factors the Quebec factor the inflation factor the productivity factor the growth in government and taxes factor and the commodity price factor These all come together to bring us to what the Canadian dollar is worth compared to the US dollar today The Quebec factor is partly responsible for the decline It is no coincidence that the Canadian dollar began its descent to 69 cents in November 1976 That was the month in which the Parti Quebecois shocked political observers by winning the Quebec provincial election It was the first and still only party explicitly committed to separation to assume the reins of power in Quebec City While it is generally agreed that there is a risk premium built into the Canadian dollar because of the threat of separation no one believes that threat is responsible for the whole or even the bulk of the currencys decline The Canadian dollar is much lower because of separation because of what happened during the 1980 Quebec referendum At the beginning of the campaign in March 1980 polls showed the Yes side leading In response the Canadian dollar very quickly dropped from 87 cents to 83 cents But in May when the No side won a resounding 60-40 per cent victory over the separatists the Canadian dollar leaped back up It was at 87 cents again in June The currencys movement in that period suggests a minimum 4 cent risk premium because of separation This is roughly consistent with what happened in the subsequent October 1995 referendum On the night of the referendum the television networks were showing the Yes side with a substantial lead The Canadian dollar immediately dropped a cent Then however the votes from Montreal were counted and the
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