Quebec manifesto urges provincewide debate
Prominent Quebecers from the federalist and sovereigntist camps have joined forces to issue as "urgent appeal to citizens" about the future of their province.According to the non-partisan group of academics, politicians and other members of Quebec's elite,
Aye theres the rub members of the Quebec ruling class regardless of their national interests combine to attack the working class in Quebec with the same old right wing agenda
Former Quebec premier, federal cabinet minister and outspoken champion of sovereignty Lucien Bouchard spoke for the group at a press conference in Montreal Wednesday. According to University of Quebec in Montreal economics professoPierre Fortin, "Either we increase the fiscal burden on our children, or we cut drastically cut services"
This is the same old same old, heard it back in Alberta in the ninties, and from Paul Martin when he was Minister of Finance... its a clear case of Deja Vu. It does not bode well for the Social Democratic society in Quebec, it means an increase in user feees, privatization, contracting out, and replacement of the State by the private sector. This is both Bouchards agenda and always has been since he joined Mulroney's PC government, and went on to take over the PQ in Quebec. It is Charest agenda, who also viewed Alberta as the model for Canada, and is a former Conservative Leader turned Quebec Liberal. These two cronies see eye to eye.
Among the solutions proposed in the manifesto entitled For a Clear-Eyed Vision of Quebec, are calls for increased investment in education and radically reducing the province's $115-billion debt -- even if it means increasing post-secondary tuition fees or charging more for electricity. Union leaders say the report targets the wrong people, however. "Between the lines they ask citizens to be responsible, they ask unions to be responsible," Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec leader Henri Masse said. "We have first of all have to have a responsible government."
PQ leadership race narrowing
But just as the momentum is beginning to build for the leadership convention, former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard and a group of other powerful opinion makers have issued a statement, not about sovereignty, but about the province's stagnating economy and declining population. Notably absent from the manifesto are the names of union leaders, women's groups or social action committees, those people who fear that the changes proposed would come at the expense of workers and the poor.
Quebec in Peril: Bouchard
Along with Bouchard, who yesterday made his first political foray since resigning as premier nearly four years ago, the group includes former Liberal minister and SNC Lavalin president Guy Saint-Pierre; Joseph Facal, a minister in the last Parti Quebecois government; former Universite de Montreal rector Robert Lacroix; leading film producer Denise Robert; and economist Pierre Fortin of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal. At a news conference he called to address the manifesto, Premier Jean Charest wasted no words: "If you want to look at it in partisan terms, if I were involved in the leadership race of the PQ, I wouldn't exactly call it a ringing endorsement. "It's a smack in the head. It can't be stated in any other way." While Bouchard said unions must play a key role in meeting the challenge, the manifesto takes a swipe at the Quebec labour movement's inertia. "(They) have monopolized the label 'progressive' to better resist any changes imposed in the new order." The manifesto also takes a slap at Quebecers on the whole. "They work less than other North Americans; they retire earlier; they benefit from more generous social programs; both individually and collectively, their credit cards are maxed out. ... In a few short years, our dreams - or rather our children's - will be brutally interrupted by a knock on the door, when the bailiffs come calling."
Bouchard says neither sovereignty nor federalism will solve Quebec's problems
Premier Jean Charest noted when he first became leader of the provincial Liberals in 1998, he was shot down by Bouchard and others when he expressed some of the same concerns. Charest said he was accused of trying to destroy the Quebec way of doing things. Charest agreed it's not easy to bring about change but said "I've been perfectly consistent" on the need for change.
The Manifesto suggests massive investments in education, training and languages, reducing the public debt, opening the door to private-sector involvement and lifting the freeze on post-secondary tuition fees. It also recommends major tax reform and increasing electricity rates to bring in more provincial revenues to pay down the debt.
PQ membership soon expected to reach 150,000, same level as 1995 referendum
Since this is the case then it is even more important that the current leadership race for the PQ be seen for the useless reformist struggle it is. The Left must abandon its illusion that sovereignty or Nationalism will lead to a Socialist Republic of Quebec.
Bouchard and the right wing establishment have thrown down the gauntlet to the working class in Quebec. Nationalism is no longer on the agenda for the ruling class, Class War has been declared.
The Quebec Left and the workers movement must abandon its illusions of the PQ and the current reformist leadership of the unions, the left leadership candidates in the PQ are running far behind the front runners and are in fact forming an alliance which will still not get them elected. The real need now is to build an autonomous workers movement for the mass strike, and the eventual seizure of the means of production and reproduction in Quebec. To create a dual power situation as happened during the Spanish Civil War and which happened during the Quebec General Strike of 1972. This could lead to revolutionary struggles in the Rest of Canada and across North America, against the neo-liberal agenda.
PQ leadership candidates might form alliance
MONTREAL -- Parti Quebecois President Monique Richard said she isn't ruling out the possibility that some of the nine leadership candidates will form alliances before the November 15 election. Richard was referring to Gilbert Paquette's suggestion to unite the four leftist candidates to get the most votes possible. It wasn't specified in a Wednesday morning article published in "Le Devoir" if Paquette would be the leader of the leftist alliance. Paquette said if Pierre Dubuc, Jean Ouimet, Jean-Claude Saint-André and himself remain opponents in the race, the votes for the left will be divided and lose their impact.
Canada: Parti Québécois thrown into unexpected leadership race
Another highly significant candidacy, even if it has been largely ignored by the major media outlets, is that of Pierre Dubuc, the secretary of the “Trade Unionists and Progressives for an Independent Quebec” [Syndicalistes et Progressistes pour un Québec Libre] or “SPQ libre.” The union bureaucracy has been one of the principal pillars of the PQ since the early 1970s, when it embraced the PQ and Quebec nationalism as a means of politically derailing a radical working-class upsurge. With the foundation of the SPQ libre in 2004, an important section of Quebec’s union officialdom has intensified its involvement in the PQ with the aim of refurbishing that party’s badly-tattered “left” credentials.