In reaction to the last budget put forward by the Parti Quebecois, the Association for Student Union Solidarity (ASSE) has decided to take to the street in opposition to the austerity measures being proposed. This will take place in the form of a national demonstration on April 3 at 2pm, at Place Emilie-Gamelin in downtown Montreal.
For the past 18 months the PQ has shown its true colours to the working class of Quebec. With the aim of eliminating the deficit, their first budget in November of 2012 put in place hydro increases, a $150-million per year reduction in spending for the education commissions, 200 layoffs at Hydro-Quebec, as well as tax holidays for large private investment projects. At the education summit in February of 2013, the PQ decided to proceed with indexing tuition fees to the cost of living. The most recent budget tabled this past February continues along the same road, with the cost of childcare increasing from $7 to $9/day over the next two years. The PQ also says it was to maintain “tight control” on the payroll of state employees in the upcoming negotiations. This is not to mention the cuts to social aid that the PQ implemented during the spring of 2013. Finally, the PQ has demonstrated its hostility to the working class by legislating the construction workers back in June 2013.
The demonstration on Apr. 3 is against the PQ’s austerity, but added into the mix is the fact that Quebec is in the final days of a provincial election campaign, giving the demo an added impact. The political landscape in Quebec is dominated by three parties — the PQ, the Liberals, and the Coalition for the Future of Quebec (CAQ). All three of these parties advocate austerity measures. This demonstration is therefore an ideal opportunity to show that the anti-austerity movement is not just directed against the austerity measures of the PQ, but also against any austerity measures that could be implemented by the other bosses’ parties.
In addition to the demonstration, 38,000 students (current as of this article’s writing) will be on strike in opposition to austerity. The workers’ unions would benefit from following the example given by Quebec’s youth by engaging in mass mobilization including strike action to concretely defy the austerity agenda of the capitalists.
On 3rd March, ASSE published on its Facebook page, “Austerity is nothing but an ideology that we must get rid of.” ASSE insists that the economic situation in Quebec does not justify the austerity measures and that fiscal alternatives exist. The spokespeople of ASSE say that companies should pay more taxes and that the most impoverished should not pay for the crisis. This is the Achilles’ heel within the campaign that ASSE is leading. In fact, austerity is a fundamental element of capitalism at this point in its history; it is a completely bankrupt system which cannot afford reforms. If companies paid more taxes in the 1960s and they are paying very little today, this is because capitalism back then was surfing on the wave of the post-war boom — a boom without precedent and one that we are unlikely to ever see again. Today, economic growth is sluggish at best and cannot even be called a “recovery”. In such a context, the atmosphere is not conducive to raising taxes on the bosses. Of course, we are not opposed to increasing the taxes on the major corporations. But, we must admit that the problem is deeper and we must address the root cause of the problem which is the capitalist system itself which is in a deep crisis. Therefore, the only alternative that can really challenge the austerity is nationalization of the main levers of the economy under democratic control. It is therefore important that we adopt a socialist perspective in the fight against the austerity of the bosses.
Activists of the International Marxist Tendency will be present at this demonstration on Thursday in Montreal. Please join us in our fight for socialism in the anti-austerity movement!
Original source: La Riposte (Quebec)