June 19, 2015

English Edition, No. 13


Challenges Facing the Quebec Nation Today

Jacques Parizeau -- A Man of Stature



Challenges Facing the Quebec Nation Today

Jacques Parizeau -- A Man of Stature
- Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) -

The Unity of All Sectors of the Society Is
Indispensable for Affirming the Sovereignty of Quebec

- TML Daily, November 5, 1995 -


Days of Action Against Quebec Liberal Party Convention
No to Couillard Government and Liberal National Destruction!
No to the Prosperity Fraud!


Quebec Government Plan to Fight "Radicalization"
Plan Targets Muslim Youth and Tramples Rights in the Mud

To Defame Is to Outlaw
The Case of Montrealer Adil Charkaoui


Challenges Facing the Quebec Nation Today

Jacques Parizeau -- A Man of Stature

Former Quebec Premier and Leader of the Parti Québécois Jacques Parizeau died June 1, 2015 at the age of 84, after a prolonged and difficult battle with illness. In Montreal, on June 6 thousands of people filed past his casket lying in state at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which will soon bear his name. The next day at the National Assembly in Quebec City many more paid tribute. A state funeral on June 9 at the Saint-Germain d'Outremont church, where Parizeau's coffin was draped with a large fleur-de-lis flag, was attended by family, friends and prominent political, cultural and academic personalities who came to pay their last respects. Outside the church, hundreds of people viewed the ceremony on a giant screen.


  Augst 9, 1930 - June 1, 2015

Jacques Parizeau devoted much of his life to Quebec's economic and political independence and stands as a leading thinker and actor of the nationalist movement as it developed in the early sixties. His place in the history of Quebec is so intimately linked to the history of this movement that it is impossible to review the achievements of one without also reviewing the achievements of the other. He began his political career with the birth of this movement and died at a time it is facing great challenges and questioning -- the dawn of a new period in which its objectives, contours, scope and relevance are being redefined. Because he was true to his convictions he was able to contribute to opening Quebec's path to progress.

The name of Jacques Parizeau is specifically associated with the modernization of the Quebec state in the economic field, but it is also connected to the political struggle for the national rights of Quebec. He was a leading player in several important developments in the modern history of Quebec during and after the Quiet Revolution, up until the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty. He continued to play a leading role in the debates that followed the failure of the 1995 referendum, deliberations which continue today, assessing the achievements and failures of the institutions of the Quiet Revolution, the conclusions of which will be decisive for things to come.

Leading Figure in the Broad Economic, Social and Political
Development of a Modern Quebec in Recent Times

The early sixties were marked by an awakening of the recognition of the need for political and economic control to build the Quebec nation or be forever doomed to remain "bearers of water and hewers of wood, tenants and unemployed in our own country." Jacques Parizeau was the architect in the creation and development of the economic institutions essential to nation-building in Quebec during the 1960s, including the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (the depository of Quebec's massive pension funds) in 1965.

Besides the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, two of Jacques Parizeau's main contributions in terms of Quebec's state economic institutions were the Société générale de financement (SGF) and the Quebec Stock Saving Plan (Régime épargne-action).

The SGF was created by the Liberal government of Jean Lesage in 1962 as part of the maîtres chez nous ("masters in our own home") policies that were developed in the 1960s. As an economic advisor of the Lesage government, Parizeau played an instrumental role in the creation and development of the SGF. In a 1961 speech, Lesage said that "economic colonialism is no longer acceptable to Quebeckers" and that Quebec industries needed support and diversification. Thus the SGF was created to gather funds from the state, Quebec's financial institutions and individual Quebeckers. Its mandate was to help businesses that were in financial trouble and to diversify the industrial base. Among other things, SGF acquired shares in businesses (for example in steel and auto plants in the 1960s and Bombardier in the 1970s), and also lent them money. The SGF's activities in the steel sector were instrumental in the creation of the state enterprise SIDBEC in 1964 that was privatized in 1994.

As Finance Minister in the Parti Québécois government elected in 1976, Parizeau launched the Quebec Stock Savings Plan in 1978. It offered tax deductions to individuals who invested in Quebec companies, to encourage businesses to publicly list their shares on the stock exchange. It is said that many Quebec companies became large businesses through the Plan, such as pulp and paper company Cascades, communications monopoly Quebecor, engineering and construction monopoly SNC-Lavalin, drugstore chain Jean Coutu, Air Transat and many more.

With the creation of the Caisse, the savings of Quebeckers previously held and controlled by the federal government were placed in the hands of the Régie des rentes (Quebec's pension board) and the Quebec government. In the ensuing years these funds were mostly invested in savings bonds issued by the Government of Quebec and Hydro-Quebec. But in 1997, the then-ruling Parti Québécois expanded the mandate of the Caisse to enable it to invest a major portion of pension assets in equities. Its mandate was changed from investing in the economic and social development of Quebec to seeking the highest return, with economic development becoming a peripheral consideration. This was part of the trend of the global anti-social offensive and its negation of the very existence of society and its responsibility to its members. It was part of the destruction of public services and programs to facilitate transferring an ever greater portion of Quebec's social wealth to powerful private interests in need of investment capital for private enrichment. In terms of the Caisse, this change resulted in scandal after scandal, leading to the squandering of billions of dollars of the savings of workers during the economic crisis of 2008-2009.

Other economic institutions of the Quiet Revolution were unable to resist the onslaught of neo-liberalism. In 1994, SIDBEC, the state-owned steel company established in 1964, was acquired by Ispat International, the monopoly which later became ArcelorMittal. A few years later Quebec found itself without any means of compelling the foreign monopoly to respect its commitments to invest part of the profits made from the added-value produced by Quebec workers in Quebec.

What has become of the great achievements of this period to exercise some control over the people's economic affairs in the basic industries of steel, mining, forestry, agriculture, manufacturing of necessities, power production, oil and gas and the financial sector? The nationalization of electricity through Hydro-Quebec and other economic reforms -- the creation of public enterprises which in addition to SIDBEC (iron and steel), included SOQUEM (mining), REXFOR (forestry), SOQUIP (petroleum), and others of importance in the financial sector -- the Société générale de financement, Régie des Rentes du Québec (Quebec Pension Plan) and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec -- failed to make Québécois masters in their own home.

Jacques Parizeau was himself a leading participant in the discussion and analysis concerning this unwanted development. The sincerity of his convictions led him to question many of the main dogmas of neo-liberalism, especially the hysteria about the need to make debt repayment the first priority of society and the claim that the oil monopolies' pipeline projects contribute more than a few hundred jobs here and there.

At the heart of the failure of the institutions of Quebec's economic empowerment is the failure to vest sovereignty in the people, to provide them with the needed political power to be masters in their own homes, a task that is more urgent today than ever.

"Lead-Up to the Demand for a Modern and Sovereign
Quebec State Which Defends the Rights of Al

After the impasse created by the failure of the Meech Lake Accord in 1990 and the defeat of the 1992 referendum on the Charlottetown Accord, rejected by the people in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada because it was perceived as a denial of any real modernization of confederal and constitutional arrangements, it was Jacques Parizeau, then Premier of Quebec, who rose to the occasion and called a referendum on Quebec sovereignty on October 30, 1995. The Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec welcomed this initiative as a bold and courageous act that would help to open a path forward.

Even though the referendum ended in a stalemate, in which neither side won, the annals of Quebec will preserve a positive place for Parizeau because of his courage in presenting an agenda for the affirmation of the sovereignty of Quebec.

The referendum of October 30, 1995, as we know, resulted in a vote of 49.42 per cent in favour and 50.58 per cent against, a difference of 54,288 votes. The referendum period saw the Anglo-Canadian colonial state, with the Liberal Party of Jean Chrétien in power supported by the entire Canadian establishment, unleash its full force against the people of Quebec to prevent them from exercising their right to decide their destiny in a peaceful manner. Most Canadian broadcasters, including the CBC, used vile fearmongering, and large private corporations such as Via Rail, Air Canada and Canadian International Airlines participated in all kinds of illegal activities in violation of the Quebec Referendum Act in the hope of ensuring a "No" victory.

However, the stalemate was also due to the failure to convince the vast majority of citizens and residents of Quebec of the need to assert their sovereignty as a nation beyond differences of language, origin and religion and also political convictions. Following the failure of Meech the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) wrote:

"Our Party is of the opinion that with the failure of Meech Lake, it can now be said with certainty that the solution to the problems confronting the people of Quebec can no longer be sought within the confines of a constitution based upon the British North America Act. We believe that the people of Quebec need a new constitution, one which only they can decide upon without any external interference, one which is democratic and expresses the popular will and will serve the building of a future or the nation. [...] We believe that the exercising of the right to self-determination by the Quebec people, acting as a sovereign nation, is a necessary prelude to the solution of all the other problems besetting the people, and an indispensable precondition for building a future for the nation."[1]

The Anglo-Canadian ruling elite and the monopoly-owned media, including its extension in Quebec, cling to the outdated and crisis-ridden constitutional arrangements with such desperation that today their "solution" is to simply not talk about it! This is what Stephen Harper said in his visit to Lac Saint-Jean last year where he suggested that he should be given merit for having "solved" the Quebec issue by simply never mentioning it. The desperation of the ruling elite leads them to divide the polity on all kinds of bases -- sometimes on language and national origin, sometimes on whether one is for "left wing" or "right wing" social policies -- all with the aim of subverting the people in their collective exercise of the right to self-determination.

The inability of the independence movement to throw off these shackles, especially in the current virulent and almost hateful "right" - "left" division, also explains the failure to mobilize the vast majority of Quebeckers around a common project for a sovereign and modern state and a Quebec that defends the rights of all. (In this regard, reproduced below is the article "The Unity of All Sectors of the Society Is Indispensable for Affirming the Sovereignty of Quebec," published in TML Daily days after the October 30, 1995 referendum, which deals with the sentiment expressed by Mr Parizeau on the night of the referendum.)

The defeat of the 1995 referendum led to the obvious emergence of the need to do everything possible to liberate the sovereignty project from the confines of the outdated and narrow definition of the nation, something which had been recognized and fought for by many. A modern state is not organized along blood lines. A modern state is organized around high ideals, and one of the high ideals at this time is the creation of a political system where people's rights are provided with a guarantee by virtue of the fact that they are human.

Many efforts have been made since the 1995 referendum, including by Jacques Parizeau in his political interventions after his resignation as premier, to expand the movement for national independence and "reach out" to national minorities. But without emphatically and resolutely embracing the modern definition of the nation, the efforts to "reach out" keep falling into what is called the model of "integration," the European or French model often presented in opposition to Canadian multiculturalism which is racist to the core. The Parti Québécois has not been able to rise far above the "French" or "Francophone" nation. However, today there is a profound movement among the youth for a modern sovereign Quebec which defends the rights of all and which is the aspiration of all who live in Quebec, a movement which carries much hope.

It speaks to the modesty of Jacques Parizeau that he admitted to having failed in this respect and called on the younger generation to open a way forward. Parizeau spent most of his later years in the universities and colleges educating the youth. This was in fact at the heart of his last political speech in September 2014 delivered in Montreal in front of more than a thousand people at the DestiNation rally for independence event.

The PMLQ believes Jacques Parizeau will have a place of honour in the annals of Quebec for his contribution to the independence and modernization of Quebec in several fields, with a political commitment to the people of Quebec that extended almost five decades and to which he remained faithful until the last moments of his life. The death of Jacques Parizeau should be an opportunity for reflection on the challenges of the Quebec nation today.

Note

1. Brief of the PMLQ National Council, November 2, 1990.

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The Unity of All Sectors of the Society Is Indispensable for Affirming the Sovereignty of Quebec

Jacques Parizeau, Premier of Quebec and the head of the official Yes campaign, stated Monday night after the stalemate in the referendum was announced : "Our country is within our grasp." He called upon the people of Quebec to "Be calm. Be smiling even if that doesn't come easily, and bear in mind that from this solidarity that is growing, this solidarity among generations, this solidarity among people from the right and left, the solidarity from the union movement and the bosses, the unemployed and those who have jobs, altogether."

He concluded his remarks by pointing out that "Here in Quebec we are not going to sacrifice ourselves in that movement to the right that the rest of Canada is taking. We are going to demonstrate that we are able, even if we don't have a country as yet, that we will raise a French society that has its heart in the right place, and in the long run, finally, we will have our own revenge and we will have our own country. Long live hope, long live Quebec." Earlier on he had stated that we "fought a good battle" and "you roll up your sleeves and you begin it all over again."

In the words of Parizeau, the words which were picked up in the most self-righteous and self-serving manner by the Liberals and others, "It's true we have been defeated, but basically by what? By money and the ethnic vote. All it means is that in the next round, instead of us being 60 or 61 percent in favour, we'll be 63 or 64 percent."

This entire speech of Parizeau betrays a kind of confidence which is required when people take up a noble aim, the grand project of nation-building. Parizeau is right in observing various phenomena. His observations are those of someone from the thick of battle for the building of the nation. However, he does not put all the disparate threads behind the single goal of nation-building. In sharp contrast, Jean Chretien and the Liberals, and their fellow-travellers have reduced themselves to those who are incapable of observing anything, are outright reactionary, a gang of people trying to save the status quo through hysteria, false patriotism and jingoism, using their power in the most cynical fashion against the forces for change.

Parizeau recognizes that as far as he is concerned all the sectors of the society must have a single goal, that is, nation-building. He also sees that there is a new social movement in the making which is impelling people of Quebec to unite in a thoughtful manner to work out their future both as an independent people and as a people desiring social emancipation. He has difficulty in deeply appreciating that the Quebec people, the new social movement, are not asking for a "French society" but a Quebec society in which there is an ethnic French majority along with all manner of national minorities united together with the single goal of nation-building. It is his failure to deeply grasp this movement that makes Parizeau both lose confidence in the "ethnics" who he thinks will always vote against the "French," or express overconfidence that "instead of us being 60 or 61 percent in favour, we'll be 63 or 64 percent." He believes that an ethnic majority can build a modern state by appealing to itself alone. A modern state is not organized along blood lines. A modern state is organised around high ideals, and one of the high ideals at this time is the creation of a political system where people have rights by virtue of being human; a modern state is based on no other consideration.

Parizeau's remarks were seized upon by many in order to stop the discussion about the future of Quebec. His remarks were interpreted by Liberals and others as "racist." These remarks come from a person who has worked extremely hard for the creation of an independent Quebec. He has seen first hand how the federal government and others use the "ethnics" as a force opposed to the creation of this state. All political people are keenly aware of the various remarks made by the "ethnics" who receive this or that support from the federal government for their own self-serving projects. Some of the remarks are quite provocative, such as carving up Quebec. Do they not play the role of denying themselves and their communities the option of sovereignty along with all others in Quebec ? Many openly stated that they fear losing their federal grants or jobs if they affirmed the sovereignty of Quebec -- a not so idle threat repeated over and over again by Chretien and the Liberals, before, during and after the referendum. There have been pay-offs both to people directly as well as to businesses in order to deny the nation of Quebec its sovereignty. We do not have in mind the frantic last minute "unity fares" or the attempted free phone calls that the Liberals so shamelessly illegally organised against their own laws and the referendum laws of Quebec. It is the incessant bribing of community leaders under the general banner of elite accommodation. It is the accommodating of influential people through jobs, grants and numerous other devices towards definite political ends. The Liberals are past masters at this, not just in Montreal, but all across the country. The fact that Chretien and the Liberals were so outraged by the comments of Parizeau was the case of a thief who unwittingly puts up a sign that gold is not buried here ; or the burned-out pot calling the kettle black. In any case, Chretien and the Liberals, and others including many shameless people from the NDP have totally disgraced themselves during the referendum campaign and after.

To label Parizeau a "racist" is to launch a personal attack on him. It is also to divert from the substantive issues he has raised. We also did not agree with his analysis and stated that "Parizeau is altogether out of line" in blaming the "ethnics." But we carried on with a serious analysis and thoroughgoing explanation of the referendum results. It is quite possible that our opinions may not be appreciated by many, but to respond by taking this or that thing out of context, or by launching attacks of a personal nature is an inexcusable crime. In our opinion, this has been the activity of Chretien and the Liberals during the referendum and the post-referendum period. It is this behaviour that has lowered the level of discussion during the referendum and after, on all the vital questions facing the people.

It is excellent that Parizeau recognizes that there is something new happening in Quebec at this time. He calls it "this solidarity that is growing." Unfortunately Parizeau does not go further and inexorably conclude that the official yes side was not able to fully utilize and transform "this solidarity that is growing" into a force for the affirmation of Quebec. The referendum results cannot be understood if this weakness of the official yes side is not analyzed and understood. It was a failure to transform all sectors of the society into a force united behind a single goal of obtaining an overwhelming yes, which is the necessary first step towards the affirmation of sovereignty. On the contrary, Parizeau's vision of victory without the "ethnics" is a reflection of not fully appreciating "this solidarity that is growing." His vision of a "French society" is also myopic, for a modern state is not known by its language or blood lines. A modern state recognizes the ethnicity of the majority, as well as of the minorities, but only as a task to create the conditions so that all the nation's cultures flourish with gusto, flare and pride. In a political sense, the modern state recognizes nothing else but all citizens enjoying the same rights and duties.

This "solidarity which is growing" is also not between "right and left" but behind a demand of the time, viz. there must be a role for all forces in a sovereign Quebec. It is an insistence that parties of the political majority must recognize the parties of the political minority so that all can contribute towards the affirmation of sovereignty. This was not done during the referendum. It is certainly not a question of the merging of ideologies or political forces but a question of mobilizing all sectors of the society behind the single goal of affirming the sovereignty of the nation of Quebec. By keeping away so many sectors of the society from the main stream, the official yes forces played into the hands of Chretien and the Liberals. The Liberals made the greatest use of all and sundry who denied the existence of the nation of Quebec and the right of the people of Quebec to affirm its sovereignty at this time. While Chretien and the Liberals were inciting any person or group who had a grudge or self-interest to oppose Quebec sovereignty, the official yes side was tragically blind to the positive forces that could have played a crucial role in the outcome of the referendum.

Parizeau makes an important statement that "Here in Quebec we are not going to sacrifice ourselves in that movement to the right." The words are fine as far as they go but they are merely an idea, a notion. In practical terms, it is mixing up the banner of the nation that can be hoisted by anyone, with the banner of social emancipation, which will not be accepted by all. The referendum results of a stalemate cannot be explained if we do not take into consideration that the focus of the affirmation of sovereignty was mixed up with the banner of social emancipation by various forces.

All in all, these and other comments by Parizeau require serious discussion. People should pay no attention to the pinpricks of Chretien and the Liberals who are punch drunk by their power and their support by the monopolies, both domestic and foreign. It is a well-known proverb that an empty vessel makes a lot of noise. Chretien and the Liberals are empty vessels. They make a lot of noise but they have sorted out neither the economic crisis, nor the crisis of fiscal and budgetary policy, nor the constitutional crisis. They are all too eager to launch personal attacks, lower even further the prestige of politics by their crude display in the House of Commons, and convert every discussion into diversion so that no talk on the substantive issues takes place. Just because Chretien and the Liberals are behaving in this childish manner does not mean that other political forces should stoop to their level. We should use this filthy conduct of Chretien and the Liberals as a differentiating point, as a point of departure from being opposed to solving the crisis of Canadian federalism to being keenly interested in doing so.

There is an immediate need to discuss all views which are presented, all observations and analysis and all proposals that can mobilize all sectors of the society behind the single goal of affirming the sovereignty of the nation. As far as the rest of Canada is concerned, the working class has to busy itself at once and create a situation for the building of the nation of Canada as a force for satisfying not only the aspirations of the Canadians for their country but also for the recognition of the sovereignty of the nation of Quebec. The Aboriginal peoples will have to do the same thing. One of the shortcomings of the Parizeau vision is that it stops short of going beyond the Quebec borders. For whatever reasons he may have for being insular, the working class cannot afford to be parochial. The working class finds enormous strength beyond its borders in the fraternal friendship and union with others.

As far as "this solidary that is growing" is concerned, it is crucial that its full extent is immediately appreciated. Only when all sectors of the society are united behind the single goal of the sovereignty of the people of Quebec can the full extent of "this solidarity is growing" be understood and brought into play.

Besides Jacques Parizeau who is going to resign from public office soon, Lucien Bouchard and others are also thinking deeply about what is to happen at this time. They are fully convinced that the option of affirming the sovereignty of Quebec is attainable in the near future. However, there are other considerations. In our estimation, these considerations also existed during the referendum and were not addressed at all or at least not to the extent they should have been. One such consideration is the character and future of the Bloc Québécois itself. If we go by its very name and goal, this Bloc should have accommodated all political forces who are for sovereignty. It is high time that this is done. If all the political forces are accommodated in one Bloc, together they can make the decisive difference. It should aim at winning all 75 Quebec seats in the next federal election proving that the vast majority of the political forces stand for the sovereignty of Quebec. The sovereignty of Quebec may come to fruition before the next federal election. Very well, that would be excellent if it happened. But, it is not good to leave things to chance. Chretien and the Liberals have to be defeated by the Quebec political majority welcoming all political forces behind the single aim of affirming the sovereignty of the nation of Quebec.

It is our strong contention that the stalemate in the referendum October 30, was mainly caused by the weaknesses of the official yes side, its shortcomings of a political character in spite of all the hard work that went into the referendum. These shortcomings must be overcome before the sovereignty of Quebec can be affirmed. All political forces, where it concerns the future of Quebec, must put aside their differences and seek the unity of all sectors of the society for the affirmation of the sovereignty of Quebec. CPC(M-L) acted during the referendum in this fashion despite the obstacles and difficulties and will continue to do so in the future as well. The referendum results would have been entirely different if all political forces were large-minded enough to put the affirmation of the nation of Quebec above all other considerations. Such a "solidarity that is growing" will go a long way to deter any internal or external power from stopping the people seizing with enthusiasm the option to affirm the sovereignty of Quebec. A sovereign Quebec will be a foregone conclusion if this broad-mindedness for the good of the nation prevails.

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Days of Action Against Quebec Liberal Party Convention

No to Couillard Government and Liberal National Destruction! No to the Prosperity Fraud!

On June 13 and 14 students, union organizations and community groups active in the defence of rights staged demonstrations outside of the Palais des congrès during the holding of the Quebec Liberal Party's 32nd Convention. The actions are the consequent continuation of hundreds of almost daily local and regional activities organized Quebec-wide over recent weeks outside of education and health care institutions, government offices and childcare centres by workers, parents and beneficiaries to denounce the Couillard government and its anti-social agenda.

The convention's theme "Quebec Destination Prosperity" is provocative, as since the April 2014 election, liberal governance has been one of all-out national destruction. On the occasion of the 21st edition of the Conference of Montreal under the theme "Building a Balanced Economy," Premier Couillard began his "advice" by declaring that "The revival of our economy, of sound public finances and concrete measures to fight climate change is how a balanced economy is built." He added: "This year's theme, "Building a Balanced Economy," has a particular resonance for Quebec during this period of transition towards a responsible, green and prosperous economy. I am convinced that Quebec, with its rich cultural, academic and political environment is one of those economies capable of taking up the challenges of the century while serving as a model and inspiration for sound and balanced management." Which Quebec is the Premier referring to? Whose prosperity?

It is all very disconcerting. There is nothing responsible, green or prosperous for the people of Quebec. There is usurpation of power against their will. Not in our name! Quebec's present direction is being contested from all quarters as it is on the path of "making the transition" towards new arrangements that serve even more directly the demands of the monopolies of this world, the same transition taking place across Canada with Stephen Harper, as well as in other parts of the world.

Growing public opinion recognizes that Couillard's ever increasing attacks against public right cannot lead to prosperity for the people of Quebec. We must now discuss how the fight must continue to deprive Premier Couillard of the power to destroy an entire section of the socialized economy. The fact that the opposition parties in the National Assembly are unable to stop the neoliberal policies also shows the need to renew this institution to be subject to the defense of public right and not to the demands of the monopolies.

It is very clear that once again this is a case of a clash of two worlds and two visions. For the workers and people of Quebec, the defence and guarantee of the rights of all is what will ensure their security and prosperity. More importantly, the struggle to take up the direction of the economy and vest sovereignty in themselves to determine their own affairs is what will guarantee their security and the real and effective defence of the rights of all.

Protests Around Liberal Party Convention

On June 13 at 9:00 am, students, teachers and others concerned about the future of education gathered in Place Jean-Paul Riopelle, opposite the convention center to demand that the Couillard government serve educational needs. The lead banner Money for school, not for oil illustrated the demand that the right to education must trump the oil monopolies's dictage. Refusing to be intimidated by the police arsenal, the hundred protesters then marched through the streets of downtown Montreal.

On June 14, while the delegates were still hidden behind the police cordon and walls of the convention center, Place Jean-Paul Riopelle was occupied by over 1,000 protesters who came to express their opposition to Couillard's destructive policies. The comedy group Les Zapartistes, with their scathing humor, caricatured Couillard as a bank lackey, demonstrating his contempt for the Quebec people and most vulnerable of society. The media at his service who brandish the debt to sow fear among the people or who deny that the Couillard government is dismantling Quebec was also scathingly parodied.

Representatives of the FTQ, CSN and CSQ then spoke. They stressed that the cuts and the abolition of programs and services in the public sector must be put to a public debate, given the impacts on the population and the workers who work there. They put forward the fact that the unions have proposed solutions to improve the organization and quality of public services, but Couillard has ignored them. They affirmed that the Couillard government cannot exclude them from the future of public services and they will be ready in the fall, at the reopening of the National Assembly, to pursue the battle.




June 13





Mobilization and Actions Against the Couillard Government's
Anti-Social Measures Throughout the Month of May

Since May Day, when tens of thousands of Quebec workers reaffirmed their rejection of the Couillard government's austerity agenda, actions have been ongoing to demand an end to Couillard's attacks against the society. Those involved in the education and health care sectors have been particularly active in defence of a public system where no one is left to fend for themselves and where everyone is able to fully participate in the affairs of the society irrespective of their physical or financial capabilities.

Demonstrations, pickets, discussions and other actions organized over the past month illustrate the resolve of the workers and people to put an end to the national destruction taking place under Couillard. Below is a brief snapshot of those events.

Health Care and Social Program Sector

While renewing their collective agreement, some 280,000 workers from that sector have relentlessly brought to the fore the attacks against their working conditions and against care provided to the population through Bills 10, 20 and 28.


May 12, demonstration in defence of Quebec family policy outside Quebec's National Assembly


May 13, demonstration in Piedmont organized by the Syndicat des professionnelles en soins des Pays-d'en-Haut (SPSPDH-FIQ)



May 13, demonstration in Quebec City on the occasion of the Federal Council of Negotiations, representing over 200 unions from the health care and social services network


May 20, top to bottom: demonstration in Rimouski organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees against cuts to health care. Next three photos: FIQ Quebec-wide day of demonstration against austerity measures. In order: St-Félicien, Longueuil and Mont-Royal.

14 May 14 and 25: Pharmacists' actions against Bill 28


May 28, demonstration in Quebec City against the Lean management method within public services

30 May 30, 150 psychologists from across Quebec demonstrate outside the offices of Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, in Brossard in the Montérégie area


May 31, torch light demonstration of 400 family childcare directors in the streets of Old Quebec to denounce government wage offers

2 2 June 2, action outside of St-Jérôme Hospital within the framework of the campaign
"S'unir ou subir" [Unite or Suffer]

Education Sector

Recent weeks have been marked by the mobilization of parents in defence of public schooling against Couillard's destruction. Pickets and human chains around schools with the participation of those working in schools and families highlight popular opposition to Couillard's anti-social measures.


 



Actions outside schools on May 28 and June 1 in Sept-Îles, Jonquière, the Chaudière-Appalaches
region and Montreal

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Quebec Government Plan to Fight "Radicalization"

Plan Targets Muslim Youth and
Tramples Rights in the Mud

One day after the Harper government succeeded in ramming its dangerous Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 through the Senate, Quebec's Couillard government announced a plan entitled, "Radicalization in Quebec: Action, Prevention, Detection and Living Together."

This plan includes two bills: Bill 59, An Act to enact the Act to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence and to amend various legislative provisions to better protect individuals and Bill 62, An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies.

The Quebec government's plan particularly targets minority youth, presenting them as the problem, rather than the society which does not recognize their rights and fails to provide them with what is necessary for them to flourish and have a bright future.

The action plan was presented by Quebec's Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety Lise Thériault and Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion Kathleen Weil, along with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. It opens with an introduction by Premier Philippe Couillard, who states:

"For us in Quebec and elsewhere, radicalization [...] is a phenomenon against which we as a society need to work together. [...] Together, we must confront those who threaten our security, our rights and freedoms, our democracy."

While stating that he stands for diversity, the Premier says that such diversity must be moderated by adherence to accepted values. He states: "As Premier and a citizen of Quebec, my greatest wish is for all Quebeckers, including those who came from elsewhere, to build Quebec with us, to live here securely, sharing our values and contributing to the development of our society."

In this way, in the name of Quebec values, Couillard pushes Eurocentric values and demands that all submit to them. Whoever does not agree is criminalized. It is not only a violation of the right to conscience in itself, but an unacceptable move to divide the society between a so-called majority culture and a so-called minority culture. This is done instead of uniting everyone on the basis of a modern nation-building project where it is the people who vest sovereignty in themselves and decide the values they want and need for society.

The plan includes 59 measures grouped under four areas: "actions, prevention, detection and living together."

"Actions" primarily involve collaboration and information-exchange among the police, the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the College of Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists of Quebec. The information will be used for police interventions. The plans include a pilot project to establish and consolidate an agreement between social services, police services and other partners. The plan also calls for these agencies to "enter into agreements and make connections in Canada and abroad to strengthen cooperation in the fight against radicalization and all matters related to public safety."

The plan proposes the creation of a public registry of individuals convicted by the Human Rights Tribunal of hate speech or inciting violence, to be maintained by the Quebec Human Rights Commission on its website.

Under the heading "Prevention," the plan says the Quebec government will financially support research in partnership with Maisonneuve College to identify factors that allegedly lead to youth radicalization. Montreal's Centre for the Prevention of Violence will also partner with the government in its plans. College Maisonneuve is in east end Montreal where many of the targeted youth whose families are of Middle Eastern origin live.

School staff are to be given new training on "preventing radicalization that leads to violence" and intervening in the classroom after violence has occurred. They will also receive training "to better equip them to handle sensitive subjects."

Under "Detection," the plan calls for measures to monitor people and encourage them to inform on others, with a focus on social media. Those who provide information to state agencies about alleged hate speech or incitement to violence will be given state protection, the plan states. It says the government will work with "all stakeholders in prisons, including chaplains and imams ..."

In terms of "Living Together," the plan says:

"While radicalization is influenced by several factors, it seems to affect especially the Quebec-born youth of immigrant parents who develop a sense of powerlessness, individual or collective, in respect of the exclusion they and their relatives [face] living in Quebec society."

The plan embodies an unacceptable offensive against the right to freedom of conscience and sets the ground for the criminalization of young people, particularly Muslim youth.

(Sources: Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion, National Assembly, Government Action Plan 2015-2018: Radicalization in Quebec. Originally published in Renewal Update.)

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To Defame Is to Outlaw

The Case of Montrealer Adil Charkaoui

For the past six months, following the October 20, 2014 attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu that resulted in the death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and the shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial in Ottawa on October 22, the greatest example of so-called "radicalization of youth" has been invented by the monopoly media in Quebec using defamation against former security certificate victim Adil Charkaoui who resides in Montreal. In collaboration with state institutions and intelligence services, certain media have persistently suggested a link between the Islamic Community Centre of East Montreal (CCIEM) and young Montrealers who, it is claimed, are leaving the country to fight for the Islamic State (ISIS).


Adil Charkaoui, May 23, 2008, during his fight against violation of his rights under security certificate process

Adil Charkaoui is the president of the CCIEM's board of directors. He fought a long battle against the Canadian state which spuriously targeted and violated his rights using the security certificate process. Without any proof, the CCIEM and Charkaoui have been harassed, ostracized and defamed with allegations of inciting youth to leave the country to join ISIS.

Events following the May 19 detention of 10 young people at the Dorval airport illustrate the case. The youth were prevented from boarding their flights, detained for questioning and then released without charges. Their passports were confiscated. Immediately, the monopoly media suggested that the CCIEM was behind their decision to leave the country to join ISIS. A typical news report went as follows: "A youth was registered with Facebook in two workshops of the Islamic Community Centre of East Montreal. Adil Charkaoui is president of the centre. Some of those at the centre also had links with youth who left the country in January for Turkey. They have been in communication via the Internet, especially through social networks."

Charkaoui has repeatedly denied the media's allegations that the CCIEM had anything to do with the departure of these youth for which there is no proof whatsoever. Despite this, certain media continue to be boorish in their accusations and demands that unless Charkaoui compromise his conscience, then he stands guilty as charged. It is a very good example of inciting hate against an individual but the media are let off scott free.

A recent interview with the Montreal Gazette, however, sets the record straight because it permitted Charkaoui to shed light on the truth of the situation. Amongst other things he said that when he and his colleagues looked into the case of the 10 youth, it turned out they were actually five couples going abroad to elope because their parents did not approve of those they wanted to marry who came from different communities and cultures within the Middle Eastern diaspora. He explained:

"We heard that 10 youths were arrested and we were in total shock.

"[The media] were not talking of one or two, but 10 trying to reach a conflict zone, probably to join a terrorist group.

"Then we investigated. I talked to three parents, including the father who alerted police.

"And we learned that it's five couples -- five love stories -- and the parents are against their marriage.

"One was an Algerian with a Moroccan, another from a Lebanese Shiite family who wants to marry someone from a Moroccan Sunni family.

"But none of this was said.

"When we started to look at this, we realized the media is playing Conservative politics. Prime Minister Harper comes to Dorval airport and says: 'There's no place for jihadis in Canada....'

"The father didn't call the police because his son was going to engage in jihad, but because he was leaving without his permission.

"So it's five attempted marriages."

Despite the fact that this has been known all along, the media have seen fit to explain none of this to the public, instead repeating their story about radicalization and jihadism which suits the script the state has been writing.

As Charkaoui mentioned in his interview, Prime Minister Harper made a visit to Montreal two days after the youth were detained. Harper used the occasion to announce increased funding for the RCMP and Canadian Border Services Agency to enhance the "capacity to conduct criminal investigations related to terrorism" and to identify "high-risk travellers."

Harper also used the incident to further his self-serving Islamophobic cause, stating that "Our Government understands that violent jihadism is not a future possibility. It is a present reality in Canada and around the world, and we know that we must be ready to face this threat right now."

In his interview, Charkaoui placed the attacks on himself and the CCIEM in the context of his long struggle for vindication following the violation of his rights and his defamation by the Canadian state. He pointed out that he and the CCIEM are the victim of state-intrigues and the damage done has turned him into an easy target. He said: "If I hadn't been arrested under a security certificate would people still say the same thing? What about other teachers at the CCIEM or the [Maisonneuve] CEGEP? It's because my name is known. Now they say 'It's him again.'

"That's why I'm suing the government. I want a formal apology from the federal government and compensation for all those years. I think getting my Canadian citizenship [in 2014] was an admission -- it means I'm not a danger to society.

"But as long as there is no formal apology and compensation, like with Maher Arar, people can associate my name to anything."

Now, in the name of opposing "radicalization" and "jihadism amongst the youth," the Quebec government has also released its odious plan to criminalize speech and dissent and target Muslim youth. It is unacceptable.

(Montreal Gazette, CBC. Originally published in Renewal Update.)


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