Québec solidaire is preparing for the provincial elections by turning even more to the right

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Just over three months before the Quebec provincial election, Québec solidaire (QS) leads polls among 18-34 year olds, with 33% saying they intend to vote for the party. When other age groups are taken into account, QS’s anticipated voter support drops to 13%.

If we should not take the results of opinion polls for reality, the popularity of Québec solidaire among young people has a political significance. A symptom of growing dissatisfaction with the status quo, he indicates that many young Quebecers harbor illusions about this well-to-do middle-class party, even though its “leftist” image has been badly tarnished in the decade and a half since its foundation, due to its forced march to the right.

The two co-leaders of Québec Solidaire, Manon Massé (left) and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (right). (Photo credit: Quebec Solidaire)

It is vital that young workers, and the working class as a whole, recognize QS for what it is – a pseudo-left party oriented towards the political establishment – ​​and cast away any false hope that it is a progressive alternative. right-wing populist party. government of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and its virulent Quebec chauvinism.

The call for Quebec independence that is at the heart of the QS program is based on the most retrograde nationalism and is a deeply reactionary project – the reworking of North America’s state borders to create the continent’s third imperialist state. , a capitalist state Republic of Quebec.

At a time when global capitalism is mired in a systemic crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, the US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine and the skyrocketing cost of living, Québec solidaire is preparing for the elections by further integrating into the ruling political establishment.

This was demonstrated during its National Council meeting at the end of May, the last meeting of the party leadership before the launch of its campaign for the October 3 provincial elections. During the meeting, QS presented itself above all as a “responsible” and “ready to govern” party, that is to say a party which fully defends the capitalist profit system.

Not a single voice has been raised to condemn the imperialist war that NATO, of which Canada is a founding and leading member, is waging against Russia. No QS leader has denounced the disastrous management of the CAQ and the federal Liberal government in the face of the pandemic. No one has called for a broad mobilization of the working class against runaway inflation and the employers’ assault on wages and working conditions that the CAQ government has overseen.

The only criticisms of the reactionary CAQ government that came out of the National Council were half-hearted proposals to deal with the housing crisis and other acute social problems, and for increased environmental protection and a slap on the by Quebec Premier François Legault for “exaggerating” the threat that immigration is supposed to pose to Quebec. The latter was purely symbolic, since a few days earlier the 10 QS legislators of the provincial parliament had voted in favor of the CAQ’s Bill 96, which stokes Quebec chauvinism by trampling on the linguistic and democratic rights of minorities.

QS’s complicit silence on the war against Russia in Ukraine is part of its support for Ottawa’s predatory imperialist actions. Over the past few decades, the ruling class has embroiled Canada in a series of wars waged by Washington to maintain its global hegemony by securing control over critical resources and geostrategic regions. These wars have devastated entire societies and turned millions of people, particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, into refugees.

Ottawa intensified its decades-old military and economic security partnership with Washington during this period in order to protect and expand its own growing imperialist interests. Québec Solidaire has never opposed it in whole or in part, nor in any significant way. He has never campaigned against the huge increases in military spending implemented by successive governments, especially the current Liberal Trudeau government, which is buying new fleets of planes and warships, and announced the week latest plan to spend $40 billion over the next 20 years to “modernize” NORAD.

Insofar as QS spoke about the wars of conquest of Washington and Ottawa, it is to legitimize them, by repeating the lie that they were aimed at defending “human rights” and protecting the most vulnerable.

QS plays the same role in the current war against Russia in Ukraine, this time under the pretext of defending “democracy”. When the war started in late February, QS tabled a motion in the National Assembly that placed all blame for the conflict on Russia; concealed NATO’s aggressive and provocative role, including its decades-long campaign to strategically encircle Russia; and promoted the lie that the war was aimed at defending the “right of the Ukrainian people to live in a peaceful, prosperous and sovereign country”. Unsurprisingly, this motion was unanimously accepted by the CAQ, the Parti Québécois and the Liberal Party of Quebec, all of which shamelessly defend the interests of Quebec capitalism and Canadian imperialism abroad.

QS’s relentless efforts to embed himself in the establishment are also evident in crucial matters of domestic politics – most importantly, the political cover he provided for the Legault government in its ruinous and criminal response to the pandemic.

As the CAQ pursued a pandemic policy that prioritized the profits of the corporate and financial elite while doing everything to keep the “economy” open, QS provided it and the Trudeau government, which oversaw the same policy at across Canada, its full support.

During the first year of the pandemic, Manon Massé, then the QS’s top leader, regularly held secret consultations with Premier Legault on the implementation of the return-to-work/back-to-school policy. “profits before lives” of the province. This policy has resulted in 15,500 official COVID-19 related deaths in Quebec, the infections of millions of people, countless of whom are now suffering from Long Covid, and chronically overburdened hospitals.

To the extent that Quebec Solidaire criticized the Legault government for its handling of the pandemic, it was from the right. QS attacked the CAQ for its alleged lack of zeal in reopening schools – hotbeds of coronavirus transmission – and mandating in-person schooling for all, under the outrageous pretext that students (and their parents) were to be exposed to a potentially deadly virus in order to preserve their “sanity”.

QS’s full support for the Legault government on the issue of the pandemic was so compromising that last year party members felt compelled to publicly rebuke the leadership for its overly visible collusion with the CAQ.

QS can sometimes present itself as a “left” party, but it is a party organically opposed to the class struggle. It rejects the mobilization of the working class as an independent political force in a struggle against the capitalist social and political order.

Stressing that the QS is determined to repudiate any association, however fragile and symbolic, with workers’ or even grassroots struggles, the party leadership has made a point of recruiting a new layer of candidates from affluent professional and business backgrounds – mayors, lawyers, doctors, small entrepreneurs and financial executives.

The “solidarity” of which Québec Solidaire speaks has nothing to do with class solidarity between workers, regardless of nationality, language or other differences. It is rather a solidarity “between classes”, in which the “better off” help the “less fortunate” and the working class is politically subordinated to the petty and the big bourgeoisie.

This finds expression in the attitude of Quebec solidaire towards the resurgence of the international class struggle, as workers rebel against decades of austerity, contractual concessions and attacks on democratic rights, now aggravated by the impact of the pandemic and the war between the United States and NATO in Russia.

Whether these struggles are taking place outside of Quebec, as in the recent eruption of mass social unrest in Sri Lanka and Peru, or the waves of strikes in Spain and the United States, or whether they are happening in Quebec , such as Olymel, ArcelorMittal, Rolls-Royce, or Molson-Coors, to name a few, QS has little or nothing to say about them. He lives in constant fear that working class struggles for better wages, safe working conditions and quality public services will emerge from the shackles of collective bargaining and state-regulated parliamentary politics and become a movement class conscious who challenges the capitalist order he defends. .

Thus, QS allies and woos the union bureaucracy, which for decades has played a central role in isolating and repressing workers’ struggles. When unions impose rotten contracts, as they did in the public sector last year, QS refuses to criticize them.

The nationalist, pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist program of QS is evidenced by the politics of the parties with which it is allied on the international stage. In Spain, PODEMOS has forged a coalition with one of Spain’s two ruling class parties, the PSOE, to impose capitalist austerity and let the pandemic spread through the population. The PSOE-Podemos government has repeatedly used state repression and violence against the strikers. In Germany, Die Linke supports the return of German imperialism to the world stage, including its leading role in the NATO war against Russia.

Québec Solidaire has nothing to do with socialism, or for that matter true leftist politics. If so, he would recognize that the capitalist system has entered its worst crisis since World War II. He would lead a principled opposition to chauvinism, war and fascism. He would denounce growing social inequalities and salute the growing opposition of working people to capitalism around the world.

QS does none of this and fully accepts the framework of capitalism and the system of rival nation states in which it is historically rooted. These national rivalries are an absolute brake on the harmonious and rational development of the world economy, posing a mortal threat to humanity which today takes the form of pandemic, imperialist war and impending environmental catastrophe.

As a representative of the affluent middle classes, QS can complain about certain aspects of capitalism and sometimes lament the dictatorship of the financial elite over society. Its goal, however, is not to fight the ruling capitalist class on the basis of a socialist program, but to woo it and carve out a place for itself within the political establishment. Québec Solidaire wants to convince the ruling elite that its “left” image can be used to preserve “social peace”, helping it to suppress working class struggles and divert growing social anger and frustration towards reactionary nationalist channels.

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