What to Expect from New Session of Quebec National Assembly
The inauguration of a new session of the National Assembly of Quebec ushers in the election year. The next general election in Quebec is scheduled for October 3, 2022 under the Act to amend the Election Act for the purpose of establishing fixed-date elections. The Act provides that the Premier retains his prerogative to call the election earlier if he wishes, but the government is using the prorogation to strengthen its domination over the other cartel parties by controlling the agenda until the October election date.
The Premier has said he will recall Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec.
Bill 96 was first introduced in the Quebec National Assembly on May 13, 2021 by Simon Jolin-Barette, in his capacity as Government House Leader. He is also Minister Responsible for the French language, Minister of Justice, Minister Responsible for Laicity and Parliamentary Reform and Minister Responsible for the Montérégie region.
It is a project of political diversion, narrow-mindedness and increased deployment of police powers against all the people of Quebec. In an interview, Minister Jolin-Barette made it clear that one of the primary goals of the bill is to increase the number of complaints, denunciations and lawsuits for violations such as, for example, not being served in French by a business. This is accompanied by increased powers for police to enter places of business, search any computer, hardware, or other equipment to examine data and impose fines for violations of the law.
The bill has nothing to do with solving any problem and it will not encourage people to learn French or improve the quality of the language. It does not represent the social solidarity that drives Quebeckers that can only be expressed in the defence of the rights of all and in the building of a modern nation that affirms the right of the people to be the decision-makers on all matters that concern them, including the matter of language rights.
Such things are not new but they are unacceptable nonetheless. They are not related to the issue of language or how to defend and develop a language. This bill, along with all others the CAQ government has introduced, is a blatant manifestation of the neo-liberal, anti-social tendency to approach problems by increasing the use of prerogative powers.
Criminalizing issues and resorting to the use of force are par for the course to push an anti-social offensive of privatization and destruction of civil society arrangements and organizations. This is what the Legault government has done on all the issues related to infrastructure, healthcare, education and resources where narrow private interests are demanding arrangements which serve them.
The Legault government is already on a very wrong path for the control it intends to exercise, through the powers of the state, over immigrants, in the name of integration into the neo-liberal labour market.
As well, one of the bills expected to be introduced during this election year is on “health reform” which, according to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, will see amendments to many existing laws. Dubé has announced that the proposed legislation will be introduced in the fall and that he hopes to have it passed within a year.
The new law’s intent will be to increase “the efficiency of the health care system,” Dubé says. This is government-speak for privatization. In blatant disregard for the lived experience of Quebeckers during the pandemic, he referred to the health care system’s performance during the pandemic as an example of renewed efficiency. It is an astounding assertion given the crisis of the healthcare system and the fact that entire emergency departments have had to close in the middle of a pandemic due to shortages of staff. Even urgent surgeries have been postponed for months with the people waiting for them suffering a great deal. A system where ministers can speak in this way is a system in deep trouble. Enacting more legislation that increases control over the population using false pretexts will not be good for the polity.
The language law will be divisive and introduce all kinds of police powers to criminalize those who do not adhere to it. Meanwhile, in the name of economic recovery, Quebeckers can expect more pay-the-rich schemes including further privatization of health care through the new health care legislation and integration of the Quebec economy with that of the U.S. imperialist war machine.
These are dangerous times which will require the people to speak out and step up their fight for conditions of life and work which they and society require at this time.
The future will be guaranteed by the fight for the rights of all.