July 3, 2015

English Edition, No. 15


Federal Elections in Quebec

In Beauce, Harper Openly Threatens
Quebec People's Right to Be

Federal Elections in Quebec
In Beauce, Harper Openly Threatens Quebec People's Right to Be
- Pierre Soublière -
Quebeckers Oppose Harper's Warmongering
- Fernand Deschamps -

Roadblock on Quebec`s North Shore
Workers Reject Stranglehold on the Region


Federal Elections in Quebec

In Beauce, Harper Openly Threatens
Quebec People's Right to Be

The Conservative Party organized an electoral meeting in Ste-Marie-de-Beauce, one of the few ridings held by Conservatives in Quebec. Taking advantage of the Quebec National Holiday to meddle in people's affairs, Stephen Harper said, "Never let anyone tell you that Conservative values are not Quebec values."

He gave the example of the legal battle being led by his government to promote Islamophobia by making a case out of some Muslim women who wear the niqab when taking the oath of citizenship, forcing them do do so with their face uncovered. The case is concerning a small number of Muslim women, who at the time of the oath had already passed the security check and were integrated into life in Canada. He then praised Bill C-51, which has just received royal assent despite being denounced from coast to coast. He repeated his claim to the effect that Quebecers will be protected against "violent and fanatical terrorists" when in fact the law threatens Quebec in the event it were ever to "threaten" Canada.

To prove his point, Harper then said that Quebec nationalists were welcome among Conservatives, as long as they are not sovereignists. He added, "For us Conservatives, Quebec nationalism that doesn't lead to the impasse of separation is not a threat." He added these high-sounding but meaningless words about this nationalism that is not a threat: "It's an expression of deep pride in a brilliant past and a solid confidence in a promising future."

Harper used the same position adopted by the Canadian Parliament that recognizes the Quebecois as a nation within a united Canada. This closes the door by extension to any new modern understanding between the peoples of Quebec, First Nations and Canada. It is a thinly veiled threat against the people of Quebec and its continuing efforts to assert its right to be.

At issue is not the proposals of an unsightly buffoon, but an agenda that does not serve society. The new powers that Harper and his police are given with Bill C-51 confirms that the current arrangements uphold nothing and that workers and the Quebec people must unite to defeat Harper in 2015 and work together for political renewal and new arrangements that guarantee the rights of all.

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Quebeckers Oppose Harper's Warmongering


Picket of Military Culture Festival in Montreal's Old Port, September 13, 2014

On June 25, Prime Minister Harper made a stopover at the Bagotville military base, accompanied by Minister of Infrastructure Denis Lebel. They announced $28 million in funding to improve military facilities in La Baie, where the base is located. In front of the press, with the CF-18 fighter jets that had been sent to bomb Libya in 2011 as a backdrop, he said to the military, "Our government is determined to make the upgrades to enable you to continue to keep Canadians safe."

The Prime Minister refused to take questions from the journalists. Nonetheless, the commander of the Bagotville base praised the Conservatives declaring to a CBC reporter that, "The government recognizes the relevance of Bagotville, specifically globally, the struggle of Canada for rights and freedoms, and our values and national interests." He alluded to the fact that the 2 Wing at the Bagotville Canadian Forces Base is a 325-member-strong unit that will grow to 700 members in the coming years.

In a statement issued April 21, 2015 the government of Canada explains that "2 Wing is the Royal Canadian Air Force's air expeditionary wing, a formation able to rapidly deploy as a self-contained unit, employing air power and providing associated support wherever needed, across Canada or around the world. 2 Wing is a key element of the Air Force Expeditionary Capability (AFEC) Project, whose mandate is to optimize the Royal Canadian Air Force's ability to rapidly deploy and effectively sustain operations in response to contingencies anywhere in Canada or around the world."

Harper repeats to anyone willing to listen that our security lies in wars of aggression and occupation, such as took place in Libya and Afghanistan and are taking place in Syria and Iraq. He claims that this represents the values of Quebeckers. The Prime Minister has nothing to say about the fact that Quebeckers have a long tradition of opposing the British Empire's wars of aggression and occupation whether it be the Boer War or the First World War, and more recently the aggressions committed by the U.S.

Harper is intent on erasing from Quebec's collective memory the fact that in 2003, Quebeckers, with the rest of the Canadian people, took to the streets in the hundreds of thousands to oppose Canada's participation in the aggression against Iraq by the U.S.-led Anglo-American coalition. This prevented the Liberal government at the time from openly participating in that war of aggression that resulted in the destruction, anarchy and chaos we are still witnessing today in that part of the world. This did not prevent the Chr?tien, Martin and Harper governments from keeping Canada in the aggressive NATO military bloc and integrating it into the U.S. war machine through NORAD, irrespective of the declared opposition of Quebeckers and Canadians to participation in wars of aggression and occupation.

Quebeckers, like the rest of Canadians, are a peace-loving people who reject the use of force to settle conflicts at the international level as well as all forms of division of the polity on the basis of religion or any other criteria that violates the right to conscience.

(Canadian Press, Chantier politique, Government of Canada, Radio-Canada)

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Roadblock on Quebec's North Shore

Workers Reject Stranglehold on the Region

On June 25, over 300 construction workers organized a roadblock of highway 138 on Quebec's North Shore, close to Sept-Iles, at the entrance of the La Romaine hydroelectric complex near Pessamit. They denounced the conditions of increased unemployment and impoverishment that have already resulted in higher rates of suicide, personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures amongst workers and their families. For years not only have workers in the area been protesting against the degradation of their living and working conditions, they have also been making all kinds of presentations to the government, in particular municipal representatives, regarding how alarming the situation has become, while nothing has been or is being done by the Quebec government to address the situation. The stranglehold on the North Shore and the regions is ongoing. The workers have committed to sending a message to everyone that the situation cannot carry on. The roadblock was lifted June 26, following a Superior Court order, but the message remains, as does the urgency of the situation.

The North Shore is marked by crises in the mining, forestry and industrial sectors in general, aggravated by the fact that the monopolies are passing along the burden to the workers. From the first quarter of 2014 until the first quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate on Quebec's North Shore increased from 2.8 percent to 12.5 percent. This is due to mine closures and layoffs, forestry layoffs, not only direct layoffs but the abandonment of these sectors by many workers who no longer see any future for themselves and have started looking for work in other sectors. This is also a result of jobs lost in public services and social programs. Based on data from the Commission de la construction du Quebec (CCQ), in the construction industry alone, the number of hours worked in the North Shore between the first quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 decreased by 30 percent, 35 percent of which is accounted for in the industrial sector, 23 percent in the civil engineering/roads sector and 12 percent in the residential sector. Also based on the CCQ, two-to-three years ago it was estimated that the number of construction workers in the North Shore was around 10,000 while at present that number has dropped to approximately 4,000.


In response to the roadblock, the government and its agency the CCQ hurried to provide their own partisan interpretation of the action undertaken by the workers. During the roadblock construction workers prevented entrepreneurs and work teams from outside the region from accessing the la Romaine site, to back their demand for work for local workers, as well as their opposition to the degradation of working conditions on work sites.

From the get-go the government and the CCQ were quick to "remind" the workers that workers from outside have the right to work on construction sites by virtue of the labour mobility agreement in the construction industry. What they did not say was that with the anti-social offensive of the rich and their state against construction workers, labour mobility is used as a means to lower the living and working conditions of the sector and weaken the unions. Those participating in the roadblock declared that entrepreneurs are using economic blackmail against the workers they bring with them across Quebec to force them to work at conditions below those provided for by law and in collective agreements, for example by forcing them to hand over to their employer the money they receive for room and board when working far away from home. How else is it possible for entrepreneurs who come from far away areas to compete so easily with local entrepreneurs submitting tenders for contracts? This acknowledgement came from employer associations during the 2013 construction strike. They raised it themselves to claim this proved that wages and working conditions in the sector were too high!

The response of the government and the CCQ is that workers should lodge a complaint and an investigation will be undertaken. They themselves refuse to investigate and make the workers to bear the burden, knowing full well that construction workers have no job security and will be black listed if they dare to speak out. The same government and CCQ abolished union hiring a few years back, so that now businesses have free reign to choose the workers they want, in a context where many construction workers are unemployed and in difficulty.

This action by construction workers is in defense of the rights of all and of Quebecâ s regions, and should be supported by all.

(Photos: Facebook, FTQ-Construction)


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