The latest editorial commentary in Barron’s features Michael Taube‘s analysis of unexpected political developments in Canada.

These days, politicians often lament about our upside-down world in fits of partisan rage and exasperation. Yet, as ideological consistency turns into a distant memory for political parties, leaders, and voters, their world doesn’t know its up from its down — or its left from its right.

Canada has certainly turned into a topsy-turvy place. The upcoming federal election, scheduled for Oct. 19, has turned into an exceedingly tight three-way race between the right-leaning Tories (who have governed for nearly a decade), centrist Liberals, and left-leaning New Democrats.

Moreover, the most fiscally conservative province, Alberta, has started a political flirtation with socialism. In contrast, the traditionally left-wing province of Quebec is now leading the charge when it comes to, of all things, tax cutting and fiscal prudence. …

… Today’s most fiscally responsible and prudent Canadian province is the one with the longest history of being the most state oriented and fiscally irresponsible: Quebec.

Premier Philippe Couillard of the Liberal Party unveiled a zero-deficit plan in March that would be the envy of most small-government supporters. He offered a budget of C$100.2 billion that’s more than balanced, for it includes paying down the provincial debt by C$10.5 billion.

There are no tax increases or massive social spending measures to be seen. Instead, the budget contains significant cuts to personal and corporate income taxes, introduction of a tax shield to protect workers, gradual removal of a mandatory health-care contribution, and massive slashes to the bureaucracy in the name of reducing government waste.

Couillard’s Liberals have very few free-marketers in the party caucus. Most of them would be more likely to support public health care and welfare than private health care and work-fare. Yet the new government has decided to fix economic inefficiencies that have long contributed to Quebec’s economic doldrums.

In a province that has received the most federal money through transfer payments, suffered with high unemployment rates for a generation, holds the biggest public debt in Canada, and went overboard with a carbon tax (the only one in my country), this is most welcome news, indeed.