Conventional wisdom tells us that Canadian federalists and Québécois nationalists are like cats and dogs. Yet when it comes to taking away workers’ right to strike, politicians and opinion-makers in both camps get along like old friends.

For several weeks, as the threat of a strike at the Port of Montreal loomed on the horizon, the pro-corporate bias of almost the entire political and media universe was out in full force. Newspaper column after newspaper column was published about the “necessity” of taking away the dockers’ right to strike. Without the slightest scruple, as one would discuss the need to change a tire, a horde of journalists called for the infringement of a fundamental right that is supposed to be protected by the constitution. Imagine the outcry from the Quebec nationalist media if they were calling for language rights to be violated!

Legault, this great nationalist, this champion of Quebecers, this destroyer of burqas, then went knocking on the federal door to ask Daddy Trudeau to kindly provide him with back-to-work legislation. Between the American and Canadian bosses of the Maritime Employers Association and the Quebec dockers, he prefers the former. This is similar to when he sided with the (American) Alcoa capitalists who locked out the (Quebec) steelworkers at the Bécancour aluminum smelter. 

Trudeau’s federal Liberals pretend to be the friends of the workers (with the shameless help of certain union leaders). But they did not hesitate for a second to pass a law to force the dockers back to work. 

Federalists hold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as practically sacred. Yet every time the right to strike that it is supposed to protect comes in the way of the profits of the capitalist class, they pretend that it no longer exists. Here the dockers share the fate of their fellow workers in the postal service, who also had back-to-work legislation imposed on them by Trudeau.

Not surprisingly, the Conservatives supported the legislation, and the NDP opposed it. To its credit, the Bloc Québécois voted against it, but that doesn’t mean much. Since their votes would not change the outcome, they could vote against it for purely opportunist reasons. You can bet that if their votes had been enough to tip the balance, they would have folded under the pressure of the Quebec bosses.

The Parti Québécois, another great champion of Quebecers, was completely silent in the face of this federal attack on Quebec workers. Strangely enough, these nationalists who are constantly railing against the federal government and calling for the repatriation of powers are now scrupulously respecting the federal jurisdiction over the ports! 

The nationalist columnists at Quebecor Media are also silent. These knights on crusade against the federal government scream bloody murder at the slightest fart from Justin Trudeau, but don’t dare lift a finger when he rams back-to-work legislation down the throat of Québécois dockers. These nationalists have no problem with Quebec workers getting screwed, as long as it’s in French and without religious symbols.

This unity of the federalist and nationalist capitalist parties in support of the Port of Montreal bosses shows that for them, the class question always comes before the national question. They like to make fine speeches about the Canadian nation or the Quebec nation, but have nothing but contempt for the millions of workers of “their” nation. 

The dockers and the working class in general cannot count on the employers’ parties, federalist or nationalist. Against the class unity of the Canadian and Quebec bosses, we need the class unity of workers of all origins.