Premier Jean Charest has pushed through an election for Dec. 8th, against the grumbling of some of the leading Liberals, who are worried this could be a big gamble. He may have no choice, delaying the vote would likely create the worst conditions possible for the ruling party. Québec’s economy cannot defy gravity. We have walked off a cliff along with the rest of the world, and Charest hopes to have a quick election before we collectively look down and realize what’s happened.
It may be too late. Already, headlines are beginning to show up about crisis in the forestry sector, and it won’t get rosier from here. Approximately 81% of all Québec exports go to the United States, and Québec’s forestry and mineral exports are an important part of its economy. As the housing market in the US continues to fall apart, and housing prices in Canada begin to slow down as well, the Liberal finance minister must have failed first grade mathematics if she actually believes her propaganda that Québec’s economy will miraculously avoid recession. Our resources were in hot demand when credit made it possible for people to live beyond their means and buy houses they couldn’t afford. The party’s over, and the Liberals know it.
The crisis in the US began with a mortgage meltdown that has resulted in more than a million home owners being kicked out of their homes. This crisis is a historical turning point, and a deep global recession is being predicted by all serious economists. In the times ahead, every government will be pressured to bail out the banks and the big industries, at the tax payers’ expense. In other words, Québec’s workers and students will be asked to sacrifice their wages, pay higher tuitions and watch their social services be gutted – all to save the threatened corporate profits of Canadian and Québécois bosses. In the service of this program of savage attacks against the working people and students of Québec, the bosses can count on their three parties: the Liberals, the Parti Québécois, and the Action Démocratique du Québec.
These are the same bosses’ parties who will be preaching national unity: that Canadians should stand together, that Québécois should form a separate country, or that we should hate immigrants. Neither the federalist bosses, nor the nationalists will be willing to sacrifice their profits to save jobs, wages and living standards as the credit bubble that made our wages livable implodes. Neither sovereignty, nor federalism, will solve any of the pressing issues that will be facing workers and students in Québec in the months and years to come, so long as it is these same bosses who still control our province and our country.
The Liberals, the PQ and the ADQ have all proven that they are the best representatives – for the bankers and the bosses of Québec. Québec solidaire claims to represent our interests. Then it’s time for QS to become a party of labour, and forcefully oppose the parties of capital. They should put forward a bold, socialist solution to this crisis. QS must refuse to allow the capitalists to make the workers and students pay for the crisis the bankers created. Against the divisive and diversionary nationalism and racism of the PQ and the ADQ, QS should counterpose a united movement of workers and students of all races and languages, against the attacks of the bosses. More, QS should lead a counteroffensive on the Canadian and Québécois ruling classes that got us into this mess, and now want us to get them out.
The bosses of Québec, French and English, are just the local arm of the Canadian and American capitalists. They are tied by a thousand threads to the bankers and industrialists in Toronto and New York. We can’t dream of defeating them without daring to defeat the capitalists that are behind them, dominating Canada and the world. We must reach out to our brothers and sisters everywhere, and build a single, united socialist movement across Québec and Canada. QS should join with socialists in the New Democratic Party (NDP) to organize and mobilize an effective resistance – we can’t allow ourselves to be divided along national lines! Despite their position on this or that question, behind the NDP stands the vast majority of the labour and student movement across Canada, and QS seeks the same position in Québec. We should march together with that movement, and help it to push its representatives forward towards a socialist program.
The ‘titans of industry’, the ‘masters of the universe’, have failed; and they have threatened us all with unemployment, falling wages, repossessions, and disappearing pensions as a result. They have failed spectacularly, and threatened our futures. QS and the NDP should put forward a program to expropriate them, with the nationalization under workers’ control of the banks and the big industries, using their profits to implement a livable minimum wage, free universities, free universal public healthcare and an end to unemployment through a massive program of job-creating public works. Only by ending capitalist chaos and moving to socialism can we implement a plan to end the crisis of capitalism. When we control industry and plan it democratically, we can truly control our futures. This is the only basis for real self-determination, and the only way we can make meaningful change to our lives.
Only an internationalist, socialist movement can overthrow Capitalism and thereby open the road to real freedom for Québec. Together we can establish a voluntary, socialist federation of Québec and Canada, while respecting the democratic rights of Québécois to independence, should they choose it.
Socialists in Québec should join QS and the NDP, and fight to transform them into real parties of workers and students, with a socialist program to end this irrational system once and for all and replace it with a rationally and democratically planned society.
Join the International Marxist Tendency, and build the forces of internationalist socialism in Québec.
Together we will win.