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April 4, 2014 - No. 37

Issues in the Quebec Election

Interview with Pierre Chénier, Leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec


Issues in the Quebec Election
Is an Electoral Coup in the Works? - Yvon Breton
Quebec Sovereignty and the "Anglo" Vote - Diane Johnston
The Quebec Liberal Party Remains an Obstacle to the Expression of the Popular Will - Pierre Soublière
Youth Participation in This Election - Linda Sullivan
The Struggle to Guarantee the Right to Education in Quebec has Only Just Begun - Gabriel Girard-Bernier
Public Sector Workers' Working and Living Conditions  - Pierre Chénier
Security in Retirement -- an Election and Post-Election Issue - Claude Moreau
Fund the Process Not the Parties - Christine Dandenault

Interview with Leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec
How to Intervene in This Election - Pierre Chénier


Is an Electoral Coup in the Works?

A Léger-Journal de Montréal survey published March 24 said the Philippe Couillard Liberals are in position to form a majority government. The main Parti Québécois (PQ) spokesmen immediately rang the alarm to warn sovereignists intending to vote for Québec solidaire or Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) to beware the consequence -- this will bring the Liberals to power.

Are we witnessing an attempted electoral coup? Pollsters regularly intervene in the political debate in Quebec to disinform public opinion in one direction or the other. Léger-Journal de Montréal, which belongs to the Peladeau family, as well as CROP and other pollsters are masters at disinforming the public. They ensure that there is no coherent and unifying response that serves the interests of the people. One has only to recall the atmosphere created around "reasonable accommodations," which led to the creation of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission in February 2007. It was preceded in the spring of 2006 by surveys and articles in the Journal de Montréal on Quebeckers' "concerns" about immigration.

One thing is certain, this serves as an electoral counter-coup. For the past few weeks the Canadian monopoly-owned media have been creating hysteria about "separatism" to try to rescue Philippe Couillard and the Liberals. Then we learn, in a so-called leak of information on internal Liberal strategy, that the Liberal candidates are attempting to influence the sovereigntist vote in favour of the CAQ or Québec solidaire. To direct them to the CAQ they repeat that "the PQ is in bed with the unions" and in the case of Québec solidaire they say that the PQ government has not met expectations regarding social policies. (As if the Liberals are the great defenders of social programs!)

The Parti Quebecois responded by trying to direct the debate toward the issue of integrity. They referred to the relationship between Philippe Couillard and Arthur Porter, the public administrator now in jail for corruption, and reminded everyone that Couillard went to work for companies linked to the privatization of health care just months after leaving his post as Minister of Health. In response to this, the Liberal Party demanded that all party leaders disclose information about their business ties and those of their spouses, obviously targeting Pauline Marois' husband, who is a businessman. And so on, ad nauseam.

So what conclusion can be drawn? These electoral media manoeuvres all have in common that they usurp the power of the electorate to decide. None of the issues is raised with the aim of providing solutions to the problems the polity would like to see taken up. This week the parties and the media are speaking about integrity and corruption, but what is causing this corruption? How can it be stopped? Isn't the current media electioneering, in which large private conglomerates intervene in favour of one party or another, corruption?

It's the same on the issue of sovereignty. Can the offensive to deprive the people of Quebec the right to decide their future really be defeated by using media manoeuvres and diversionary tactics, which have the effect of further marginalizing the people? Certainly not.

In this election, we must ensure that none of the major parties can claim to have the mandate to do whatever they want. We must find ways to end their their dogma that there is no alternative but to pay the rich and destroy social programs. It is also necessary to put the national question on the agenda, as well as the question of the direction of the economy and the question of the need to renew the democratic institutions by keeping the initiative on these matters in the hands of the working people.

(PMLQ Candidate, l'Acadie)

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Quebec Sovereignty and the "Anglo" Vote

Why is it a given that English speaking Quebeckers will never support Quebec sovereignty? What sovereignty are we referring to? Our sovereignty is not based on linguistic lines. The Quebec nation was first comprised of the First Nations, the Métis, settlers hailing from France, Ireland, Scotland and England, followed by Americans who left during the war of independence in the United States, and more recently immigrants from all over the world, who have made Quebec their home and contribute to its enrichment both culturally and economically. In fact, many who refer to themselves as "Anglophones" are our national minorities who settled in Quebec particularly during the 20th century and continue to use and promote their own mother tongues.

Quebec sovereignty is crucial to the renewal both of Quebec and of Canada and our national minorities are an integral part of our modern Quebec. Canada and Quebec are being integrated into the United States of North American Monopolies at an ever-increasing speed, whether through its borders, economy, defence, international policy, including war preparations on the side of the U.S., etc. The national question concerns everyone, whether they like it or not.

It would be a thousand times better if the people engaged in the issue, not on the basis of old controversies about divisions between Anglophones and Francophones, but to guarantee that integration into the United States of North American Monopolies doesn't destroy us. We must create a nation that defends the rights of all, all individuals and collectives, by ensuring that the human factor takes precedence on questions that affect the society and the natural environment. We must humanize both the human and natural environment.

The federal government has never recognized the Quebec nation's right to self-determination and has always refused to negotiate with it on an equal nation-to-nation basis. The same goes for the First Nations. What's more, Quebec, like Canada, has inherited a 19th century British parliamentary system which is anachronistic and in need of renewal. The so-called democratic institutions, including the party system of government, are in crisis. The electoral system brings parties to power whose candidates have been chosen by the parties and not the people. The electoral process no longer expresses the public will so as to transform it into the legal will.

Fighting for sovereignty here in Quebec will contribute to the same for our fellow Canadians.

In this election and after, let's work to build Commissions on the Future of Quebec.

(PMLQ candidate, Mont-Royal)

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The Quebec Liberal Party Remains an Obstacle to the Expression of the Popular Will

Listening to Quebec Liberal Party Leader Philippe Couillard, it would seem that in the best of worlds, if any notion of a referendum on the future of Quebec could be brushed aside, all would be well. This view that we must abandon the constitutional question and move on to "real issues" -- the economy -- dates from the time of Jean Chrétien, in the post-referendum period. After having interfered in the decisions of the Quebec people and having mired himself in the sponsorship scandal, Chrétien wanted to divert attention from his own illegal activities by continuing to attack the right of Quebeckers to affirm their nationhood.

If the Liberal Party rants against a "referendum" as if this form of plebiscite was the work of the devil himself, it is because it opposes, body and soul, any expression of the popular will, period. Did it not sufficiently demonstrate this in its response to the student struggle? The 1995 referendum was a democratic exercise in proper and due form, with a much higher turnout, in fact, than either the federal or the Quebec elections. This morbid preoccupation with opposing a referendum is indicative of how the Liberal Party jealously guards the power it especially does not want to share with the "masses." It reflects a fierce opposition to the right of the Quebec people to assert themselves as a nation and decide on any issue whatsoever.

Since the Leaders' debate, Couillard has said that Quebec does not have the financial means to form a country. These statements are contrary to those held by Jean Charest in 2006 when he declared, "Quebec has the means to become independent. The question today isn't whether we have the means -- Yes, we do. Nobody questions that."

So we see that anything goes. The Liberal Party under the guise of talking about "real issues" is, on the contrary, rehashing old issues to hide that they themselves have nothing to offer as solutions to the political, economic and social problems of Quebec. They are the biggest fraudsters around. If they are not stirring up hysteria about investors who will no longer want to invest in the Outaouais, they are claiming that there will be an exodus of Anglophones from Quebec in the event of a PQ majority. However, even on this, anything goes. For example, statistics show that the trend in recent years in the Outaouais is that Anglophones are increasingly settling in Quebec, housing prices being an important factor. But the Liberal MP for Hull, who as a good Liberal likes to maintain this kind of hysteria, said regarding these statistics that in fact it is the Francophones she has met who thought of leaving the Outaouais in the event of a PQ majority!!

The real concern of the "good doctor" and his gang, ultimately, is to continue to decide everything for us. It must not pass! Wherever we can inflict a defeat, we must not hesitate to do so.

(PMLQ candidate, Chapleau)

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Youth Participation in This Election

According to a survey conducted from February 28 to March 3 by Leger Marketing on behalf of TVA Nouvelles, 30 per cent of the youth vote (18 to 24 years) is leaning toward the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), 29 per cent toward the Parti Québécois (PQ), 18 per cent toward Québec solidaire (QS) and 15 per cent toward the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ).

The polls predict a drop in youth participation in this election compared to 2012, when the student movement for the right to education was in full swing. (They forget to mention that it was the youth who forced an election which led to the defeat of the Liberals and Jean Charest.)

These figures make no sense presented in this way. It seems to be the same old story that youth are apolitical or they consider the issue of the future of Quebec as passé. In fact, often the surveys commissioned by the mainstream media and political parties give different percentages for the voting intentions of Francophones and Anglophones. Immediately one can see how they divide the people on the question of the future of Quebec, as if it is not an issue that belongs to the whole body politic without regard to language, national origin, religious beliefs, political associations or social status.

If the participation rate of youth is declining in this election (as it probably is for all voters because it has been the trend over the last twenty years with the exception of the 2012 election), it is because the youth don't know who to vote for, they don't see their collective interests represented by choosing amongst the major parties.

No doubt the youth mistrust the PQ. Not only has it pursued the anti-social offensive during its 18 months in government, but they don't want to be associated with the obscurantist outlook that filtered through during the debate on values and secularism. The youth's perspective is oriented toward how we can build a society where the development of the human being can flourish, that is to say a society where the people have the ability to exercise control over their social and natural environment.

For the youth, an alternative is very important. What is the alternative? Certainly not the Liberals. They are the champions of the anti-social offensive and nation-wrecking. Furthermore their refusal to even discuss constitutional renewal and their self-serving notions of "individual rights" merely maintain the division of the body politic. Their definition of individual rights does not include you and me, it only includes the rights of monopolies legally constituted as individuals.

It's not the debate on the future of Quebec that is turning the youth off in this election. It's not true that they believe that it's an "old" debate that "belongs in the 1960s." What they reject is the division of the body politic between "separatist" and "federalists," between "French" and "English," between "native Quebeckers" and "newcomers." The discussion on the future of Quebec belongs to all Quebeckers. In this election, the PMLQ is calling on the youth and students to organize themselves to block any majority of the parties representing the anti-social offensive in order to stay their wrecking ball. We must also undertake the work to create the Commissions on the Future of Quebec in neighbourhoods, work places, schools and elsewhere to wrest the debate on the future of Quebec from the hands of the cartel party system.

(PMLQ candidate, Châteauguay)

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The Struggle to Guarantee the Right to Education in Quebec Has Only Just Begun

Many people are of the opinion that the monopoly media and parties have voluntarily hidden a large part of their electoral agenda: education. Probably still in shock from the student strike of 2012, all concerns with the education system have been swept under the rug. However, the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ), the Parti Québécois (PQ) and the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) all agree on raising tuition fees and refuse to talk about the future of the education system.

The focus of the education issue in Quebec is to guarantee the right to education for all. This means, among other things, an end to hidden fees as well as so-called ancilliary fees, which vary from one institution to another, making major investments to provide free education from kindergarten to the PhD level and building dynamic institutions at all levels of education.

The notion of the rich and their parties that the cost of education is a student issue is a total fraud. The Liberals have pushed their attacks against students to such an extent that, in 2012, their government did everything possible to criminalize the struggle to guarantee the right to education, including militarizing CEGEPs and universities. Refusing to revisit the student strike, the Liberals have simply struck the theme of education from their election campaign. The PQ still wants to increase tuition and the CAQ harps on about its obsession with eradicating school boards, as if that would solve the problems in education.

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec proposes a new direction for Quebec with the program demanding that the state stop paying the rich and invest in social programs. Education is a right and the education system should be based on this principle. That is why we propose the following measures:

1. Make major investments in education;
2. Impose an immediate freeze on tuition fees for Fall 2014 and gradually abolish it altogether;
3. Gradually transform the system of loans and grants to a national bursaries program to ensure that each student has the right to a livelihood;
4. Abolish ancilliary fees;
5. Cap tuition fees for international students, facilitate their access to work and reduce their fees.

(PMLQ candidate, Hull)

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Public Sector Workers' Working and Living Conditions

The collective agreements of more than 400,000 public and broader public sector workers in health care, social services, education, post-secondary education and other public services will expire on March 31, 2015. The unions are committed to working as a common front to present their demands by the end of 2014. The working and living conditions of public sector workers must be in the forefront of this election campaign. These workers must have the necessary living and working conditions that permit them to provide Quebeckers with the services on which they depend. We must ensure that the living and working conditions of these workers are commensurate with the work they carry out for society.

It has become customary for the ruling circles and their parties to denigrate the public and broader public sector services and the workers in these sectors as a "cost" and their pensions as a "burden" to society. They say this cost must be reduced for the well-being of society. The cuts to these sectors lead to the deterioration of services. The crisis which they themselves create in these sectors is then used to call for the complete privatization of public services as the solution.

According to the perverse logic of the parties of the rich, we must "first create wealth" before we can invest in social programs and services. In fact, what they call "creating wealth" consists of nothing more than transferring ever greater portions of the social wealth to private monopoly interests. The impression they create is that there is no alternative to the destruction of social programs and services.

For the working class, social programs and public services are part of the wealth the workers create. The more these services are able to meet the needs of workers and the general population, the stronger the economy will be. The opposite also applies: the more services and social programs are underfunded or cut, the weaker and more unable to create wealth the economy becomes. Social programs and public services are a necessity for the humanization of society.

(PMLQ Leader and Candidate, Marie-Victorin)

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Security in Retirement --
An Election and Post-Election Issue

No! is the answer from workers and retirees to the demands that they be stripped of their retirement savings or have their pensions cut. We will not accept paying more and working longer only to find ourselves without security in retirement. Nor do we accept having billions stolen from our pensions! We demand that the well-being of seniors and dignity and security in retirement be guaranteed.

In 2012, of the 121,122 retirees aged 65 and over in the public and broader public sectors, the majority were women (86,440) who receive an average of $9,990 per year.[1] Even with the Quebec Pension Plan benefits added in they still earned so little that those without other income also qualified for the Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Where are the Cadillac pension funds, the "wall-to-wall" funds decried by neo-liberal loudmouths?

Federally, a single person receiving Old Age Security benefits whose annual income is $16,728 or less, is entitled to the Guaranteed Income Supplement. As noted in the Quebec government's April 2013 report on pensions (the Amours report), the annual adjustment to federal pensions does not follow that of wages, thus widening the gap between retirement income and wages.

Irrational propaganda about "deficits" is used to justify attacks on workers' retirement savings as well as public pensions in the form of reduced benefits and contribution increases when tens of billions of dollars disappeared in 2008.

The federal government will incrementally increase the retirement from 65 to 67 years of age starting May 2023 (those born in 1958 and after).

Contributions to the Quebec Pension Plan have gradually increased but the annuity for those who retire at age 60 will be between 30 per cent and 36 per cent lower than the amount they would receive if they had waited until age 65 to apply and the reduction applies for as long as the pension is paid.

Forestry retirees from White Birch and others in Quebec have seen their pensions cut in half.

A provincial bill fixed payment of municipal pension premiums at 50-50, obliging workers to participate in paying down the deficit and even opening the door to implicate retirees too. Meanwhile, high returns on investments in the 1990s created surpluses used to justify employers taking contribution holidays. Municipal governments instead handed over their share of the pension contributions to speculators and financial fraudsters who, with the 2008 crisis and the negative returns in 2011, increased deficits of these funds.

The workers' pension funds are also under attack. The federal government will gradually cancel the tax benefits these funds provide. Meanwhile a campaign is being waged to deprive unions of their funds. For example, there is the Quebec Labour Federation (FTQ) Solidarity Fund, over which FTQ should have no control!

It should also be asked who is running the banks that hold these funds? Do we really want to put in charge of the workers' retirement funds the same kind of people who lost tens of billions in retirement savings at the Caisse de dépôt et placement de Québec? The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec had assets of $200.1 billion on December 31, 2013. The public and broader public sector pension funds alone, (2012) Government and Public Employees Retirement Plan (RREGOP), make up 48.7 percent of deposits ($85,863 billion) and the Quebec Pension Plan 22 percent ($ 39,070 billion). RREGOP contributions have just been increased as well.

Should the role of government not be to ensure security in retirement and protect retirement savings, not to deliver billions of dollars contributed by workers to speculators and financial fraudsters?

Retirement security is an issue in this election and one that will remain after the elections.

Note

1. Commission administrative des régimes de retraite et d'assurances (CARRA), actuarial analysis as of December 31, 2011.

(PMLQ candidate, Jean-Lesage)

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Fund the Process Not the Parties

One of the most frequent comments we hear from people we meet while doing election work is how uninformed they feel despite massive spending by the parties and the government on all kinds of advertising.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec (DGEQ) has announced that the current election will cost about $88 million. The expenses include: preparatory activities, election materials, computer equipment, staff salaries for the DGEQ and election personnel, transportation and communications, administrative services, rents, materials and supplies and reimbursement of electoral expenses (the DGEQ reimburses 50 per cent of the election expenses of any elected candidate who wins 15 per cent of the vote).

In addition to this are the allowable expenses of political parties during elections beyond those reimbursed by the government. In the September 4, 2012 elections, the parties were allowed to spend $81,232,106.

This does not include the resources and salaries of journalists and technical staff that the monopoly media and polling agencies employ, who are primarily used to cover the activities of the political parties arbitrarily considered able to win the election. These gigantic media conglomerates spend a considerable amount of their resources during a campaign. It is a form of free advertising not covered by the law governing electoral spending that provides these parties with interviews, special programs (for example CBC's Vote Compass), polls and daily reports.

Parties themselves employ expensive marketing firms and spend the tens of millions of dollars they are permitted to spend under the electoral law on extensive advertising campaigns, billboards, telephone solicitations and other sophisticated marketing mechanisms.

State Funding

The cost of an election is not limited to these expenses. In addition, the state pays annual allowances, reimburses auditing expenses and makes contributions to the political parties.

Annual allowance: The state pays an annual allowance to political parties based on the number of votes cast in an election. In 2010 the state paid an allowance of $0.50 per vote[1] to political parties. The allowance increased that same year to $0.82, to $0.83 in 2011 and $0.85 in 2012. A political contribution tax credit system also existed for donors at that time.

At the end of 2012, the law was amended and state allowances increased to $1.50 per vote. The law eliminated tax credits and limits contributions to a political party to $100 per voter. Instead, the DGEQ pays contributions directly to parties in proportion to the contributions they receive.

In 2012, the state paid a total of $4,986,118 in allowances to nine authorized political parties. Of this total, the Parti Québécois (PQ), Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) and Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) received $4,806,922, or 96 per cent of total allowances. This amount represents 57 per cent of the income of the political parties.

In 2013, the state paid $10,640,246 to 18 authorized political parties (who participated in the 2012 elections). Of these, 90 per cent or $9,576,222 was paid to the PQ, the PLQ and CAQ.

Reimbursement of auditing expenses: The Electoral Act provides that the Chief Electoral Officer shall reimburse the authorized parties half the expense of auditing their annual financial report up to $15,000. In 2012, the state reimbursed political parties $74,561 for these fees.

Contribution payment: Since January 2013, in addition to annual allowances, the Chief Electoral Officer makes contributions to political parties. Contributions of $2.50 are paid for every dollar in contributions received by the authorized parties from their supporters up to $20,000 per party per year, then $1.00 for each dollar received in excess of this limit, up to an annual amount of $200,000 per party.

In 2013, according to available data, the DGEQ paid at least $250,000 to each of the PQ, the PLQ and the CAQ for a total of $750,000.

People are right to say that these massive expenditures are a waste if all the publicity, or at least a major part of the publicity boils down to propaganda for the parties of the rich and at the end of the day voters are no more knowledgeable about the solutions to society's problems. It is a sign that the electoral process and campaign financing are not centred on the voter, the human factor, as a decision-maker who must be informed about the issues impartially and must have information on all candidates and all parties to make an informed choice.

Elections to public office are a public project. Why not use that money to inform voters about all the candidates and their programs as well as other matters of public interest related to an election? Those who work hard every day to make the society function deserve to be at the heart of the election, not on the sidelines. For the PMLQ, a central element of any reform of the electoral process that will truly vest the people with decision-making power is that all spending at election time should be used to finance the process, not the parties.

Note

1. The allowance is calculated by dividing between the parties, in proportion to the percentage of valid votes obtained by them in the previous general election, an amount equal to the product obtained by multiplying the fixed amount ($0.82, $0.83 $1.50) by the number of voters on the electoral lists used in that election.

(Source: Statistiques sur les rapports financiers des partis politiques provinciaux, direction du financement politique, Septembre 2013; DGEQ website)

(PMLQ candidate, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve)

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Interview with Leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec

How to Intervene in This Election

Chantier Politique: Election day is Monday, April 7. What is the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) predicting?

Pierre Chénier: Predictions today are not reliable because of the phenomenon that has become known as electoral coups. The so-called major political parties and the monopoly media are using marketing tools to peddle scare tactics and other nonsense to disinform the polity. The PMLQ thinks that the best outcome would be for the Quebec people once again to bring in a minority government so that nobody has the unfettered possibility to push destructive programs on the people. To achieve this requires the concerted recognition that how people vote can make a difference.

CP: With four days to go, the polls are predicting a Liberal majority. What do you think?

PC: A new poll, released on April 1 by Forum Research, ordered by The Gazette, gives the Liberals a majority government with 41 per cent of the votes; Parti Québécois (PQ) second, with 29 per cent of the votes; Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) third; with 19 per cent; and Quebec Solidaire (QS) fourth, with 7 per cent.

This confirms a previous poll released on March 25 by Leger Marketing, ordered by the Journal de Montréal, which also gives a majority government to the Liberals -- the Liberals get 40 per cent of the votes, the PQ 33 per cent, CAQ 15 per cent and Quebec Solidaire 9 per cent.

Are these polls reliable? We don't think so. Recent examples of elections in Alberta and British Columbia have confirmed that polls are manipulated by vested interests in the most extraordinary ways. In some cases, a party itself will spread the news that the opposition is going to win in order to scare their own forces into stopping that from taking place by voting for the party which is allegedly not going to make it. The rank and file of the PQ will have to think very carefully about how they vote because a Liberal victory lies in wait at their door and no matter what legitimate beefs they have against the PQ, a Liberal victory will not be good for Quebec either.

CP: Please elaborate further how you think the diversions are taking place.

PC: The monopoly media are pushing hard that the CAQ and François Legault have risen in the polls since the second Leaders' debate. Generally they say that the turning point in the campaign came when Péladeau (owner of the news consortium Quebecor/Sun Media) became a PQ candidate and, raising his fist, said that his aim in joining the PQ is to build a country. The media are pushing that the central issue in the election is the PQ plan to hold or prepare a referendum if it is elected and that nobody wants that. The Liberals are running on a platform that electing the Liberals is the only way to make sure that there will not be a referendum and that the Liberals are going to deal with the economy ("the real issues").

All of this is very diversionary because as far as the question of Quebec sovereignty goes, it is not a matter of dividing the polity between English and French speaking, federalists and separatists or stability versus instability. Both Canada and Quebec are being integrated into a new state under private monopoly control. Everyone must take up nation-building, otherwise the things which Quebec is facing will no longer be under the people's control. It is urgent the people take up this question on their own terms, not the terms set by the media, or anyone else.

The second diversion is to suggest that the Liberals will deal with "the real issues." Whose "real issues" would those be? Those of the people? Of course not.

Since the media started this refrain, the PQ has gone on the defensive. Instead of arguing why Quebec sovereignty would defend Quebec's interests and those of the Quebec people, it has been saying that it would not hold a referendum until the Quebec people are ready for it. They then tried to present themselves as the Party of Quebec identity. This raises the issue of their Charter of Quebec values which is highly controversial. They called the elections without hearing all the parties who wanted to speak on the Charter and they made it clear that if they get a majority, they will impose it, no matter what people say or think. In the opinion of the PMLQ, this is very inept because the PQ does not have a progressive view on the Charter.

In any case, the PQ tried to build a campaign on the basis of saying that it defends Quebec's interests and good government with a good economic record. The media then said that this attempt to make the election about integrity and the need to oppose corruption means that both the Liberals and the PQ have to deal with the issue of illegal fund raising. According to the media, the PQ has failed to focus the election on the theme of Quebec identity and so on.

CP: An aspect of the situation is that a lot of people who traditionally would vote PQ do not want to vote for them at this time because of the anti-social offensive, because of Péladeau, because of Marois who is seen as arrogant and upper class, because they broke their promises on the Health Tax and so on. What is your opinion?

PC: Yes, we meet quite a few PQ supporters who do not support the Charter on values and think it is detrimental to the cause of sovereignty. Péladeau is also hard to swallow because he is so virulently anti-union. Of course, the national question exists independent of whether one is for capitalism or socialism and it is urgent the working class takes the lead on this issue, which is why the PMLQ is calling on the working people, the youth and students and seniors to create the Commission on the Future of Quebec -- to make sure they influence the outcome.

To decide how to vote based on a rejection of the PQ however, can give rise to a Liberal majority and this will not be good for Quebec. The Quebec people have to cast their vote in this election in a manner that gives rise to the best outcome within the situation. None of the political parties vying for election in fact champion the interests of the people. That is why they should be kept in minority status, so that no party has free rein to do as it pleases. The worker's opposition must keep them in check.

CP: What about Quebec Solidaire?

PC: The tactics of Quebec Solidaire in this election are to criticize the PQ to the maximum in the hope of picking up the disgruntled PQ vote. It is saying that QS is the true party of sovereignty and it is actually asking for a referendum to be held during the next mandate. At the same time QS picks up on the broken promises of the PQ, saying that it has turned to the right, and so on. In the opinion of the PMLQ the real problem is the electoral process where all the political parties must divide the polity to advance their own electoral chances. These politics do not solve any problem. They are a gamble even as concerns whether they will increase the QS vote and, in fact, it can help the Liberals get elected. But of course the QS is entitled to push itself just as is any other party. Our politics are to consider the outcome for the people of Quebec and alert them to the necessity to occupy the space for change themselves, not think that anyone else is going to defend their interests on their behalf.

CP: So you think the prospect is real that the Liberals might become the next government?

PC: It certainly looks that way but as I said, nothing is predictable. The Quebec people are a political people. They have a sense which is very profound. A lot depends on how far the CAQ votes in the CAQ ridings shift to the Liberals and on voter participation rates.

For Quebec, it is not good politically to have the Liberals back in power. It will not only fuel feelings of pessimism, meaning that the workers, students and youth would feel that the movement was not able to push forward with the advances it had made prior to the 2012 election to present demands that are for a Quebec that defends the rights of all. A Liberal victory would be used as an endorsement for the status quo of the brutal neo-liberal anti-social offensive. The privatization of health care, the plunder of Quebec's resources, the Plan Nord, the constant pressure on the workers' standard of living and their pensions and so on, will be given a green light. The Liberals have created conflicts everywhere they could -- by criminalizing the struggle of the youth, public sector workers, construction workers -- to prevent political discussion on the problems raised. This must not pass. The PMLQ calls on workers all over Quebec to do whatever they can not to give this a green light.

A Liberal victory will of course also be used to declare that federally the Liberals have a base in Quebec. It is worth mentioning that the Liberals represent those forces who supported the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords which were defeated by the people in Quebec and Canada. They have still not accepted that the people rejected their position on the constitution. People must be encouraged to reject them again in this election.

All of this shows that the workers must put their own options on the table because the choices they are given do not represent their interests. Nothing will change in the interests of the people unless the workers put forward their own independent politics and on that basis become influential enough to prevent the monopoly interests from destroying the society and the public authority.

CP: What then is your call on the eve of the vote?

PC: Our call remains to block the Liberals from getting back into power and that workers must take the lead in building a sovereign Quebec which defends the rights of all. In the current situation in which they are between a rock and a hard place, the best outcome would be to vote for a PQ minority government and then demand pro-social legislation, an end to secret deals, an end to the privatization of health care and education, defence of workers' pensions and standard of living, and so on. An important demand so as to not have an absurd repeat of this election call would be to hold the government to its obligation under the legislation for fixed date elections.

The PMLQ calls for the Liberals to be prevented from returning to power. Their program of no referendum on sovereignty no matter what and that they will deal with the "real issues" is a call to block the path to progress on all fronts. The Liberals will use their victory as a mandate to step up the anti-social offensive with a vengeance and to block the path of deciding the future of Quebec and engaging in nation-building, even though it is the need of the times against the brutal nation-wrecking of the ruling circles under the jackboots of the U.S. imperialists. The aspirations and needs of the Quebec and Canadian people must prevail at this time and this election could open a path to make that possible. This would be the most favourable outcome.

CP: Anything you would like to add?

PC: As far as the PQ forming the next government and the fact that the Liberals are not far behind and sense that power may be in their grasp, the issue for workers remains the same -- they must take the lead in defining and fighting for a sovereign Quebec that defends the rights of all so that there is no space for governments to unleash the anti-social offensive and impose neo-liberal policies and a very narrow outlook on Quebec identity and so on.

As well, the PMLQ is running in ridings that are not hot ridings and where the Liberals can be defeated. We call on voters to vote PMLQ in those ridings in order to recognize the need for the Commissions on the Future of Quebec.

Thank you.

(Translations from the original French by the PMLQ, posted on the PMLQ website, www.pmlq.qc.ca)

Visit the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec online

www.pmlq.qc.ca

Christian Legeais, official agent of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec

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