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By Andrea Levy and Corvin Russell
February 23, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — If there is a single theme that has distinguished left politics in Canada and Québec at least since the 1960s, it is the aspiration to national sovereignty. For both the social-democratic and radical left in Québec, the pursuit of social justice is inextricably bound up with national liberation and the creation of a sovereign state emancipated from the colonial chokehold of the Canadian federation. Meanwhile, a considerable part of the left in English Canada for decades similarly conceived the liberation of the Canadian economy and foreign policy from domination by the superpower to the south as the starting point of any viable left project.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath disappointed much of her party’s base by positioning herself to the right of the Liberal Party.
By Roger Annis
July 3, 2014 -- A Socialist in Canada, first published at The Bullet (Socialist Project) and posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Voters in Canada’s largest and most industrialised province went to the polls on June 5, 2014, to choose a provincial government. The choices were limited lesser evils, "bad" or "worse", constrained by a lurch to the political right by the trade union-based New Democratic Party (NDP).
This follows elections last year in Nova Scotia and British Columbia that were marked by the drift to the right of the NDP and electoral disappointments similar to what the party suffered in Ontario.
An election poster for Québec Solidaire.
For more on Quebec, click HERE.
By Richard Fidler
May 13, 2014 – Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author’s permission -- The defeat of the Parti Québécois and the election of a federalist Liberal Party government in the Quebec general election of April 7, 2014, raises important questions about the future of the Quebec movement for sovereignty and political independence. And it poses some major challenges to the left party Québec Solidaire, as it seeks to position itself in the developing struggle for the direction and programmatic content of the Québécois national movement.
By Richard Fidler
May 6, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The following are some notes on the the Ninth Congress of Québec Solidaire, held at the University of Quebec in Montréal (UQAM), which I was able to attend on the final day, May 5, when some important decisions were made by the more than 600 delegates. This was the largest congress to date for this party, founded in 2006, which doubled its membership to 14,000 during the past year in the wake of the student upsurge. My account is supplemented by some additional details on the proceedings of the previous two days provided by QS delegate Marc Bonhomme and media reports.
At an anti-imperialist conference in Cairo in 2007, I heard Chávez hailed for his solidarity with Palestinians as “a better Arab than the Arabs”; “closer to us than the Arabs that impose injustice”.
Chávez, the first Latin American president to declare himself of African descent, proclaimed in 2005, “Every day we are much more aware of the roots we have in Africa.”
Québec: Québec solidaire in search of a second wind; Federal NDP meets in Montréal – another missed opportunity?
Quebec solidaire: a party of the ballot box or a party of the streets?
The first article below is a translation and slight modification of the original article published in French on Marc Bonhomme’s blog, March 29, 2013. The second article, by Richard Fidler, deals with the New Democratic Party's position on Quebec. Both are posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.
By Marc Bonhomme
April 8, 2013 -- Local and regional bodies of Québec solidaire are in the process of discussing and taking a first vote on the proposals from the party’s national bodies for its convention to take place at the beginning of May 2013. Political strategy, including the issue of alliances with other parties, as well as the choice of the male spokesperson for the party will undoubtedly be the central points of discussion of the convention.
By Richard Fidler
March 18, 2013 -- Left Streamed/Life on the Left -- Amir Khadir, one of Québec solidaire’s two deputies in Quebec’s National Assembly, was guest speaker at this year’s Phyllis Clarke Memorial Lecture in Toronto. It was a rare opportunity for an Anglophone audience to hear a presentation by a leader of Quebec’s pro-independence party of the left.
Khadir’s lecture was addressed primarily to outlining QS’s approach to international solidarity in the face of neoliberalism and capitalist globalisation. In the wide-ranging discussion period that followed, he spoke about the Quebec student movement, the relation between class and national questions, the aboriginal movement, the environment, how Québec solidaire sees the relation between electoral and mass action, and other topics.
By Richard Fidler
February 19, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In the summer of 2012 I drafted an article on the New Democratic Party (NDP) for the purpose of introducing a discussion among some comrades seeking information about the party that now forms the official opposition in Canada’s House of Commons. While by no means a definitive study, the article draws on a number of books, academic papers and other documents addressed to the history and nature of Canadian social democracy, all of which are referenced or linked in the text. A French version of this article, addressed to a Québécois readership, is published in the current issue of the left journal Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme devoted to “La question canadienne”, a critical analysis of the “Harper revolution”.
Translation, introduction and notes by Richard Fidler
January 29, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The 2013 edition of the annual Socialist Register, a valuable publication, is devoted to “The Question of Strategy.” It contains 19 articles by more than 20 authors on the Occupy movement, new left parties and electoral strategy in Europe, the new progressive governments and movements in Latin America, and so on. Oddly, however, there is not a single article on the strategic lessons of the Quebec upsurge in 2012 and the massive student strike that shook the province for some six months, helping to bring down the Liberal government. A surprising omission, especially in view of the fact that two of the Register’s three editors are Canadians. There is not even a mention of the Quebec strike and its strategic lessons in the editors’ preface, dated August 2012, written following the strike and in the midst of the Quebec election campaign.
By Geneviève Beaudet and Pierre Beaudet, translated from the French original at Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme by John Bradley
January 25, 20133 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The blossoming of the Idle No More movement signals the return of native [Indigenous] resistance to the political and social landscape of Canada and Quebec.
With its origins in Saskatchewan in October 2012, this mass movement has taken on the federal government and more specifically the adoption of Bill C-45. Its origins lay not in the work of established organisations such as the Assembly of First Nations (although the AFN supports the initiative), but in a grassroots mobilisation that has arisen in several parts of the country. This process echoes other recent citizen mobilisations such as the student carrés rouges in Quebec and the worldwide Occupy movement.
By Richard Fidler
September 21, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Their demonstrations have shaken Quebec in recent months, and on September 20 students and environmentalists won major victories.
At her first news conference as premier, Pauline Marois announced that her Parti Québécois government had cancelled the university tuition fees increase imposed by Jean Charest's defeated Liberal government, and would repeal the repressive provisions of Law 12 (formerly Bill 78) Charest had imposed in his efforts to smash the province’s massive student strike. Among other things, this will remove the restrictions on public demonstrations and the threat of decertification of student associations.
In addition, Marois has ordered the closing of Gentilly-2, Quebec’s only nuclear reactor, while promising funding to promote economic diversification to offset job losses resulting from the shutdown. And she will proceed with her promise to cancel a $58 million government loan to reopen the Jeffrey Mine, Quebec’s last asbestos mining operation.
"Québec solidaire was the only party supporting free education from kindergarten to university. But leaders of this spring’s massive student strike either placed their hopes in a victory for the PQ, which promised to reverse Charest’s fees increase (while indexing future fee increases to the cost of living) or, in the case of the more militant wing of the movement, chose not to intervene in the election."
By Richard Fidler
September 7, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The results of the September 4 general election in Quebec has produced mixed reactions among supporters of all the major parties. Québec solidaire, the left-wing pro-independence party, increased its share of the province-wide vote to 6.03% (263,233) from its 3.78% (122,618) in the 2008 election.
July 27, 2012 -- GreenLeftTV -- Guillaume Legault is a leading member of Quebec's CLASSE, a radical student organisation at the forefront of a months-long student strike against tuition fee hikes. Legault toured Australia and New Zealand in July-August 2012 as a guest of the socialist youth organisation Resistance. Above is Legault's address to the Resistance national conference, held in Adelaide.
[August 3, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following document is the manifesto of Quebec's militant student union, Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale (CLASSE). For more on the student struggle in Quebec, click HERE.]
By Roger Annis
June 21, 2012 -- Rabble.ca, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- On June 20, the National Coordination Committee of Québec solidaire issued a statement in response to a "Call for a United Front" in the next election in Quebec, saying it is open to a “limited and timely electoral arrangement” with two other pro-Quebec sovereignty parties. The statement is titled (translation), "Defeat the Liberals, yes. But above all, build a progressive Quebec!"
The call has received close to 11,000 signatures online. It urges the three pro-sovereignty parties – Parti québécois, Québec solidaire and Option nationale – to enter into an electoral agreement such that only one candidate of the parties would contest electoral districts against the ruling Liberal Party and the right-wing Coalition pour l’avenir du Québec (CAQ).
The mandate of the current Liberal government ends in 17 months. Widespread speculation has it calling an election as soon as August.
By Richard Fidler
June 7, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Despite massive mobilisations throughout Quebec in opposition to Law 78 and the Quebec provincial government of Premier Charest, the student struggle is once again at an impasse.
At the end of May, the government terminated the latest round of negotiations with the four college and university student associations without offering any concessions on the students’ key demands: for repeal of the tuition fee increases and repeal of its “bludgeon law” aimed at smashing student unionism in the province.
The student negotiators had bent over backwards to find some acceptable compromise. They agreed not to discuss Law 78 pending an agreement on the fees. They put aside the proposal of the CLASSE, the most militant student group, that a tax on banks be substituted for the fee increase, proposing instead that the funds in question be found through increasing the existing education savings program. All to no avail.
Quebec solidaire leader Amir Khadir was arrested and handcuffed at a protest on June 5, 2012, in Quebec City.
By Roger Annis
STOP PRESS: June 7, 2012 -- Rabble -- According to a report in La Presse and Radio Canada, at 6 am this morning, Montreal police arrived at the home of Quebec National Aseembly member Amir Khadir and his wife, Nima Machouf, with arrest and search warrants. They arrested the couple's daughter, Yalda Machouf-Khadir, and her partner, Xavier Beauchamp. The two are among 11 student activists arrested in early morning police raids in the city.
"Pots and pans" protests -- casseroles -- have erupted in neighbourhoods across Quebec and are spreading in the rest of Canada.
By Roger Annis
June 4, 2012 -- Rabble -- On Saturday, June 2, several tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Montreal in answer to the Quebec government breaking off negotiations two days earlier with the province's striking student movement.
According to the CLASSE student association (Coalition large de l'association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, Coalition of the Association for Student Union Solidarity), which called the march and is the largest of the four student groups that were involved in talks, the march began with 5000 or so people rallying at Parc Jeanne Mance and then swelled to 25,000 as it wound its way through city streets. A banner at the front of the march read, "This isn't a student strike, it's the awakening of society."
By John Riddell
May 28, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/johnriddell.wordpress.com -- Some familiar issues were addressed with originality and new vigour at the Historical Materialism conference in Toronto on May 11–13. Attendance at the three sessions on revolutionary history, organised by Abigail Bakan (Queen’s University), ranged between 30 and 75 of the 400 conference participants.
Given that eight of 11 presentations had a European focus, the discussions were opened fittingly by Montreal scholar Daria Dyakonova with a paper on a little-studied aspect of revolutionary history here in Canada: the birth of communism in Quebec.
The pioneers of this movement faced objective obstacles, including severe repression and formidable opposition by the Catholic Church. In addition, Dyakonova explained, “after Lenin and especially after 1929”, the Canadian Communist Party’s “policies were determined from Moscow”. The line dictated by the leadership of the Communist International (Comintern) was “often at odds with national or local needs”.
May 22, 2012 -- Real News Network -- Today marked one of the largest protests ever to be recorded in Quebec's history. We are joined with Jérémie Bédard-Wien, who is a student organiser and who was on the ground today in Montreal.
Jérémie, would you please describe for us what events have unfolded?
For more coverage and analysis of the Quebec students' struggle, visit Life on the Left.
By Roger Annis, Montreal
May 19, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The strike of post-secondary students in Quebec has taken a dramatic turn with the May 18 approval by the provincial government of a special law to cancel the school year at strike-bound institutions and outlaw protest activity deemed disruptive of institutions not participating in the strike.
Details of Bill 78 were unveiled the day before and debated in a special, overnight session of Quebec’s National Assembly. They include a ban on demonstrations within 50 metres of a post-secondary institution and severe financial penalties on students or teachers and their organisations if they picket or otherwise protest in a manner declared “illegal”. Demonstrations of ten or more people must submit their intended route of march to police eight hours in advance.