August 31, 2012 - No. 107
September 4 Quebec Election --
All Out to Defeat the Neoliberal Vision of Society
Say No to Nation-Wrecking!
• What's at Stake in the September 4 Quebec
• Say No to Nation-Wrecking!
• Occupy the Space for Change
• Political Parties' Refusal to Meet the
People's Needs in National Assembly Extends to Electoral Campaign
- Claude Brunelle
• An Election to Divert Attention from the
Justness of the Students' Cause
Call to Quebec Workers
• Demand a New Direction for the Economy to
Resolve the Crisis in the People's Favour
• Retirees Form Coalition to Demand Pension
Security for All - Pierre Chénier
• Alma Workers Reiterate Call
for Government to Cancel Secret Deal with Hydro-Quebec and Rio Tinto
• Cree Nation Opposes Uranium Exploration and
• Monthly Mass Demonstration Reaffirms
People's Desire to
Defeat Charest Government's Destructive Policies
All Out to Defeat the Neoliberal
Vision of Society
What's at Stake in the September 4 Quebec Election
In the September 4 Quebec election, resolving the
two visions of society is at stake. The people are fighting so that
their human-centred vision prevails. Individual rights as well as
must be respected and the two can be harmonized with the general
interest of society only if the society affirms public right.
The problem facing the workers, women and youth is that they cannot
up their social responsibility without seizing political power, the
power to decide the political, economic and social affairs of the
nation in defence of the public good, not private interest. How to end
the stranglehold of the elites on the so-called
democratic institutions that denies the rights of all except the major
It is clear that the neoliberal aim
is for the people to be depoliticized. It means the people are allowed
to have their vision of society but not control over the so-called
democratic institutions required to realize it, not even through the
election of the National Assembly. In this election, Quebeckers can
space for change by intervening in order to contribute to the creation
of a modern society which recognizes the rights of all by virtue of
their being human, and the responsibility of the state and its
institutions to ensure these rights in practice. The people of Quebec
must ensure that
the elected government will subordinate
the democratic institutions to public right. It must defend the public
good against the sell-off of the nation's resources in the service of
private interests. It must invest in social programs and public
services and oppose privatization and the blackmail that the government
"has no money."
In this election, the people must express a clear and
coherent opinion on the vision of society that Quebec needs. They must
apply their political will by defeating the Liberals and not permitting
any party or neoliberal coalition to take control of the National
Say No to Nation-Wrecking!
Premier Jean Charest and his party are the target of the
people's anger for several reasons. The most important is that
the Liberal Party is up to its neck in all sorts of corruption. This is
linked to the fact that for nine years it has been wrecking the nation
with its pay-the-rich
schemes like the Northern Plan, secret deals and the sellout of
resources at the expense of the way of life of the region's communities
and First Nations. It destroys the environment, attacks trade unions,
the standard of living and standards in health and job safety. All of
this is part of the mad
dash to further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the general
interests of society itself. No one except the rich elects a government
to use the nation's assets to enrich
a handful of people!
The tuition fee increase
that provoked the student strike movement is part of this corruption
that encourages private partnerships between governments and
financiers, allowing private interests to pocket public funds. The cost
of the tuition fee increase is not "50 cents a day" as Charest says.
cost is the students'
indebtedness and putting education in the service of private interests
instead of the public interest.
The attack on unions, attempts to deprive retirees of
their pensions, secret agreements on hydroelectricity and mines, the
underfunding of health care and other problems that the Quebec people
face today are all a part of the neoliberal vision of this government
and its pay-the-rich schemes. It is mostly due to
the fact that this vision of society deprives people of their public
institutions and the right to have their say on the decisions that
In this election, this vision of nation-wrecking is an
Quebeckers must inflict a decisive defeat on the Liberal Party, but
also ensure that no other party or coalition of parties founded on a
neoliberal vision can take control of the National Assembly. This
situation must be ended where a party or coalition of parties can use
of power in the National Assembly to enact laws over which the people
have no control.
Occupy the Space for Change
There is a socio-political
Quebec that envisions a society that recognizes the rights of all. What
is needed is to occupy the political space and this
requires a political movement that is capable of putting the
decision-making power in the hands of the workers, women and youth, not
That's what it means to occupy the space for change in
this election. The challenge is to create the political movement that
leads to the realization of a human-centred vision of society. This
requires the working class to put forward its independent
politics based on meeting the needs of the whole
society. These politics have as their starting point that the real
producers of wealth must have first claim on this wealth. Quebec has
enough natural, human and social wealth to provide for the needs of all
and ensure a high standard of living for everyone, education for all
quality health care for our seniors and all citizens. This
is how the working class ought to create a society in its own image.
Meanwhile, Charest and his neoliberal cronies seek to create a society
in their own image, in which they perceive themselves as masters of the
world at the helm of private companies, with no respect for anyone
or anything except their private interests.
It is up to the working class to constitute itself the nation and vest
sovereignty in the people to put an end to this corruption and bring
about the new!
Political Parties' Refusal to Meet the People's Needs
in National Assembly Extends to Electoral Campaign
The so-called leaders' debate broadcast on Radio Canada
Télé-Québec on August 19 shows the extent to which
and the common good in Quebec are instruments to negate the needs of
the Quebec people. The elite use these instruments for their own ends
-- for private interests -- without
any consideration for the demands of the workers, youth and all those
who make up Quebec society.
This debate was consciously organized in violation of
electoral law, which says all the leaders of parties represented in the
National Assembly which received at least three per cent of valid votes
the last general election, must receive media coverage equitably, of
the same quality and quantity.
Based on the fact that the
leader of the Parti Option Nationale was
not invited, the debate does not qualify as a leaders' debate. Never
mind that the other leaders of all the other parties participating in
these elections (18 in total) including the leader of the
Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ), were not even
part of the equation in the minds of the monopoly media for whom they
simply do not exist. TVA went even further and organized "one-on-one"
debates between the leaders of only the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ), the
Parti Québécois (PQ) and Coalition Avenir Québec
(CAQ), August 20-22.
This situation during
elections is akin to that in the National Assembly between elections,
where a democratic institution is co-opted for the sole purpose of
responding to private interests while snuffing out the demands of the
people. Within such a framework over which the workers and people
exercise no control, it is impossible to hold
a real discussion that puts forward the preoccupations of the entire
society and proposes programs to respond to them.
If it is not the case that
people are excluded from decision-making,
then what explains all the struggles led by the workers in recent
months, such as against the attacks on their right to organize in a
union or against the use of natural resources like hydroelectricity to
finance the monopolies when they attack the
workers fighting to defend their rights. What explains the fight
against the theft of pensions and the people's opposition to the
plunder of natural resources and environmental destruction by these
same monopolies? What explains that in these debates, the courageous
fight of the students against the imposition of neoliberal policies by
opposing the fee hikes and upholding the right to education and social
services that correspond to the people's needs has been ignored?
Listening to these "debates" is like pretending there has
not been a fierce battle raging for months between the Charest
government and the workers, youth
and people who oppose the neoliberal vision
of subordinating public right to private interests.
The people's vision of society demands pro-social measures to ensure
that the exploitation of natural resources respects the natural and
social environments and is in the service of the needs of Quebec
society. It is based on affirming the right to education, where the
youth's right to education is provided with a guarantee so that they
can fulfill their responsibilities to build a modern society. Such a
society upholds the workers' right to a pension that permits them to
live in retirement with dignity. Why have the thousands of actions and
voices fighting on these issues not been addressed in these "debates"?
The clash of these two
visions of society reflects the social crisis
in which Quebec is mired. The Liberal government refuses to respond
politically to the people's demands. Instead, it criminalizes these
struggles, especially the students and workers, by using violence and
unjust laws to blame them for the crisis it
created. The determination of the workers and youth to say "No, we will
not accept neoliberalism, this is not the society we want," was not
represented in the debates. This permitted Jean Charest to attack the
youth in the so-called debates. He called them violent and criminals,
without anyone putting him in his place.
This is why the workers and the youth could find nothing
"debates" but shameful squabbling between the most corrupt elements and
those who claim to be as pure as the driven snow. Thus Jean Charest is
presented as Quebec's strong man while the CAQ claims the right to
replace him with even more
anti-social and anti-people policies.
By blocking access to a real debate on how to solve the
facing the development of Quebec society, the message the monopoly
media and these political parties are trying to send is that the
people's demands have no place and nothing can be done to change the
situation, either in the National Assembly
or in the elections.
This is totally false. The
experience of the past few months shows
that the workers, youth and people are capable of putting forward
initiatives to advance their struggles, justify their vision of society
and unite all the sections of the people and organizations in defence
of their interests. The next step is to do this
in an organized manner by developing the independent political movement
of the workers and people to take up practical politics to advance
their vision of society and smash the firewall imposed in the National
Assembly that blocks setting the agenda based on the needs of a modern
Quebec society. It is not only
the street that belongs to the people, the power to decide also belongs
to us and to affirm it we must advance the independent
political movement to take what is ours.
Let's stake our claim on our natural resources, economy,
and education system and the institutions which can guarantee their use
to ensure society's well-being, now and in the future. Let us use these
elections as a springboard to further this aim by concretely blocking a
neoliberal coalition of the PLQ
An Election to Divert Attention from the
Justness of the Students' Cause
using the election to divert attention from
the justness of the students' cause, especially from the fact that
their vision of a society that defends the interests of all is the
vision of the Quebec people, who hate corruption and refuse to tolerate
that the government and the National Assembly are put in the service of
The Liberals have used
diversion from the beginning. First they tried to divide the students
with rantings to the effect that those who are against the hike
advocate a "social cause" (which according to them is tantamount to
anarchy, violence and public disorder), while those seeking injunctions
against the strike
are defending their "individual rights" (which according to them is
tantamount to defending the right to education and respect for the
so-called democratic institutions). It is pure hypocrisy. The recourse
to the courts, disinformation, police violence and dictate simply
expose the government's failure to be accountable
to the public. This is to hide the anti-social offensive and the
neoliberal vision of society that goes against the public good. This
offensive attacks individual rights as well as collective rights, not
only for students but for everyone -- except the rich who monopolize
the natural, human and social resources for their
The students who oppose the
tuition fee increase are
defending the public good against the usurpation of the so-called
democratic institutions, the government and the National Assembly, by
private interests. This is why they were quite right to demand Jean
Charest's resignation when he refused to account for
his actions with regards to education. Now with the election they are
right to work for the defeat of his party and any neoliberal party or
coalition. They will support those who take up the affirmation of the
right to education to become the Quebec government. This government
must maintain the tuition freeze until
the matter of financing post-secondary education and the guarantee of
the right to education for all has been submitted to Estates General --
roving public consultations.
Whether students return to class or not, the
Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec is calling on workers to continue to
support their sons and daughters who
are resisting and persevering, confident in the justice of their cause.
In defending the interests of students, they defend the interests of
the whole society for a better future for all.
Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec Candidates
The Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec is presenting 25
candidates in the September 4 election, in the regions of the National
Capital (Quebec City), Mauricie, Montérégie, Montreal and
Call to Quebec Workers
Demand a New Direction for the Economy to
Resolve the Crisis in the People's Favour
In this election, while the people strive to liberate
the anti-social, anti-worker and anti-national aims of the Liberal
Party and to block any neoliberal coalition, particular attention must
be paid to advance the independent politics of the working class and
nurture those who would defend Quebec's
interests as defined by those who elect them.
Contrary to the Liberals' pretence
the government has no business intervening on behalf of employers in
their relations with the workers or on behalf of the financial
oligarchy in their relations with the students. An equilibrium can be
established in the relations of production and
a legal structure can be conceived based on the recognition of the
rights of all if public right is defended.
Similarly, the government
has a duty to protect public right, not to
justify the privatization of public authorities to serve "individual
rights." We are all born to society and we all depend on the society
for our livelihood and well-being. If the government does not defend
public right, we
go back to the policy of "fending for
oneself" and the law of the jungle. This is the origin of the anarchy
and chaos that the Charest government has introduced into Quebec
society. This policy is responsible for the widespread failure of the
society to ensure law and order. Law and order depends on the defence
of the rights of all, not the increase of
police forces to protect an alleged and immoral "mandate to govern."
With regard to workers'
rights, a new government must be
responsible to establish a framework to monitor and correct the
consequences of the globalization of production, including the transfer
of decision-making power outside of Quebec, at the expense of the
people and communities, and the loss of mutual
benefit within the economy.
A new government must
improve the standards of working conditions,
particularly regarding the length of the work day, a better work/family
balance, health and safety, subcontracting and the plight of injured
The imbalance in the construction industry needs to be
defending the rights of workers and their unions and not allowing
corrupt businesses to take everyone hostage. The government must be
held accountable for corruption on construction sites since it is the
one which accepts the bribes. It is unacceptable
to blame the workers and unions when corruption comes from the
To counter the nation-wrecking by
government, we need a
government of the people that advocates a pro-social economy.
We need an economic development strategy that
for all those who can work, an economy that develops all sectors and
all regions, which uses the natural resources in an environmentally
friendly manner and promotes the well-being of the population and the
nation as well as the expansion
of manufacturing and service industries.
A pro-social economy
includes an energy policy that ensures
sustainable development according to the laws of nature and the needs
of society. All Quebeckers and all communities should benefit from the
use of their natural resources and economic development so that their
value yields returns in the form of
royalties, new livelihoods, the well-being of communities and other
Any trade must be based on mutual benefit, not on the
unilateral agreements that promote monopoly right, especially
that of oligopolies over which Quebeckers have no control.
This election is an opportunity to demand a new
direction for the
economy so that the crisis is resolved in favour of the people.
Vote for Candidates
Who Take an Uncompromising Stand Against Nation-Wrecking!
No to the Subjugation of the Common Good to Private Interests!
No to Public-Private Partnerships!
No to the Anti-Union Offensive!
No to the Tuition Fee Increase!
No Secret Agreements Selling Quebec's Natural Resources and Destroying
Pensions for All!
Public Health Care Services with Sufficient Budgets and Personnel!
Deprive the Liberal Party and any Neoliberal Coalition of any Power in
the National Assembly!
Together Let's Occupy the Space for Change!
Retirees Form Coalition to Demand
Pension Security for All
On August 29, at a demonstration in defence of pensions
in front of
White Birch Paper's Stadacona plant in Quebec City, organizers
announced the formation of the Quebec Retirees' Coalition. More than
300 people participated, the majority of them retirees from the White
Birch plant in Quebec City and the AbitibiBowater plants (now
Resolute Forest Products) in Donnacona, Clermont and the
Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region. The coalition's aim is to defend
pensioners' rights, regardless of their affiliation. The coalition has
adopted a grey square as the symbol of the retirees'
resistance and determination to protect their rights and the gains
workers have achieved.
Two recent events pushed the retirees to form the
coalition. One was the arrangement White Birch reached under the Companies'
(CCAA) whereby retirees will lose at least 30 per cent of their
pensions. The other was Resolute Forest Products' threat to close its
fund citing a high solvency deficit, which would reduce retirees'
pensions by 30 to 40 per cent.
In lively discussion prior to the rally, participants
legalized theft of pensions from workers who have worked all their
lives and now see their pensions reduced despite having in hand signed
contracts to guarantee defined pension payments until the end of their
days. The time has come to force
governments to ensure full pensions for all and to stop the big
companies from abandoning their responsibilities towards pensions, the
Gilles Bédard, the president of the Association
of Retired Employees
of White Birch-Stadacona and master of ceremonies at the rally,
announced the creation of the coalition to warm applause from all
participants. He said that the fight to defend pensions that White
Birch retirees are waging against the plant's
current owner and the potential buyer may also have to be taken up in
other companies and even in other municipalities. The attack on
pensions may well spread to all pensions and the coalition's formation
is timely, he pointed out.
Gilles Papillon, Armand Gauthier and Mathias Dufour,
for the AbitibiBowater retirees associations from Donnacona,
Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean and Clermont respectively, demanded that pensions
be secured and bankruptcy protection laws changed. Parti
Québec Solidaire candidates
as well as a member of the NDP were invited to say a few words, and
they committed to help satisfy the demands of the workers on the
pension funds issue.
Participants were visibly happy that the Coalition has
and with the demonstration, held in the midst of the September 4
election campaign. They were dismayed that an issue as important as
pensions has been treated like a hot potato by those who would form the
next government and had no place
in the election until the retirees themselves took action.
Alma Workers Reiterate Call for Government to Cancel
Secret Deal with Hydro-Quebec and Rio Tinto
Contingent of Alma
aluminum workers at Earth Day demonstration, Montreal, April 22, 2012
The Syndicat des travailleurs de l'aluminium d'Alma,
represents the Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) workers, recently published an
election ad in the newspaper Le Quotidien.
In its message, the union demands the cancelation of the
agreement between the Quebec government, Hydro-Quebec and RTA with
respect to Hydro-Quebec's procurement of excess hydroelectricity from
RTA during a strike or lockout. According to the agreement,
Hydro-Quebec is obligated to purchase
all unused hydroelectricity from RTA in the event of a labour dispute.
During the six month RTA lockout of Alma workers, Hydro-Quebec paid RTA
more than $90 million for its energy.
In its message to the people, the union thanks "all the
unions, politicians and businesses that supported [them] during a
difficult lockout, financed by Hydro-Quebec." The union says that this
support made a significant impact and assisted them to protect future
quality jobs by obtaining a ceiling for subcontract
jobs. It adds, "Meanwhile, the collective agreements of all the Rio
Tinto Alcan plants will expire in 2015 and if there is a labour dispute
the government will be obligated to buy the energy ($90 million [in
unused hydroelectricity] for just six months [while] two-thirds of the
Alma plant [were not in use]). This scandal
has gone on long enough! Together let's demand more in return for our
resources. On the eve of this election the Syndicat des travailleurs de
l'aluminium d'Alma demands that the next government correct past wrongs
by ending secret deals."
The union told the local press that it would challenge
candidates and political parties to take a stand on this question.
Recognize the Hereditary Rights of First
Cree Nation Opposes Uranium Exploration and Mining
On August 8, Waskaganish, the General Assembly of the
unanimously adopted a permanent moratorium on the exploration and
mining of uranium and the dumping of uranium waste in Eeyou Istchee,
the Cree territory of James Bay.
Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Cree,
Matthew Coon Come,
said that "the community is not opposed to all forms of mining, but to
those concerning uranium because of its potential toxicity and
radiation [...] The Cree Nation is committed to protecting our
economies and way of life against the exceptional
and serious threat posed by uranium mining and uranium waste, now and
in the millennia to come."
According to Sebastien Grammond, dean and professor of
civil law at
the University of Ottawa, "the permanent moratorium may have no legal
value, but it has put a serious stick in the spokes of the companies."
Grammond said, when asked whether the Cree Nation could declare a
moratorium, "No, because
they do not own the natural resources. That is provincial jurisdiction."
This demand for a moratorium by the Cree Nation is a
test of the
recent agreement signed between the Charest government and the Cree
Nation on the latter's governance and autonomy in the Eeyou Istchee
territory. The First Nations' experience of Charest-style democracy is
that the only acceptable decisions
are those that do not threaten monopoly right. At the signing of the
agreement on July 24, Charest presented his notion of the Cree and
James Bay residents' autonomy: "Together, the Cree and James Bay
residents will be able to define the needs of the region and plan its
development, thus designating access to Northern
resources in line with government wishes."
With this permanent moratorium, the Cree Nation is
block Strateco, the company that develops the most significant uranium
mining exploration projects in Northern Quebec. The company wants to
continue exploring the Matouche site by building an underground ramp.
It has already received support
from the federal government and only requires the go-ahead from the
Quebec Environment Ministry and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(CNSC). The CNSC's decision will be made within days.
In early June, the CNSC held hearings in the Cree Nation
Mistissini. The Cree demonstrated their opposition to the Strateco
project. Ultimately it is up to the Quebec government to decide whether
or not it will move forward.
Support for the Student Struggle
Monthly Mass Demonstration Reaffirms People's
Desire to Defeat Charest Government's Destructive Policies
Despite all the attempts by the Liberals and the media
in their service to divide and isolate the student movement and the
vision of society it proposes, nearly 100,000 people rallied on
Wednesday, August 22 at Place du Canada and demonstrated in the streets
of Montreal against the ongoing destruction of
public services, the tuition fee increase and the Special Law (formerly
Bill 78, now Law 12). This sixth consecutive monthly mass demonstration
took place right in the thick of the election campaign, with tens of
thousands of students, workers and people from all sectors of society
once again taking to the streets
to express their desire for government policies that defend the common
good and to denounce the Charest government for its destruction of
Quebec's social fabric.
At the rally, representatives from the Broad Coalition
of Student Union Solidarity (CLASSE), the Fédération
interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ) and the
Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ), all
identified neoliberal policies as the main block in the affirmation of
a society that serves the common good.
The students' determination to pursue the fight against the tuition fee
increase, whether they are on strike or in class was hailed by all.
"The strike was the best way to address education in Quebec these past
months, and if our politicians are not preoccupied with this during the
elections, it's up to us to inform the
population on this matter [...] And even if Law 12 is withdrawn and the
hike is cancelled, the student population will remain vigilant to any
attack against education or public services. You haven't heard the last
from us yet," said CLASSE co-spokesperson Jeanne Reynolds.
FIQ President Régine Laurent addressed the
privatization of health care and education. "In education, to go from
collective funding to individual funding is unacceptable and will only
benefit the banks who don't care about the common good [...] We are
hundreds of thousands demanding a real break with
the neoliberal model," she said.
At a press conference just before the
demonstration, Martine Desjardins, President of the Quebec Federation
of University Students reiterated the call to not vote for parties that
do not support the students, pointing out, "The Liberals and CAQ
[Coalition Avenir Quebec] are the same."
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