Why the Parti Québécois expelled SPQ Libre
A five-year long attempt to reform the Parti Québécois as an independentist and “social-democratic” party ended abruptly on March 13 when the PQ’s national executive decided not to renew recognition of its left-wing “political club” as an authorized grouping with the party.
Accommodations for an Accommodating Nation
The debate in Quebec over reasonable accommodations is, in reality, one of national identity and how to both construct and integrate this young, still-evolving nation. Never before – at least in recent history – has the tension between the Canadian model of multiculturalism and Quebec’s pursuit of the intercultural model been as strong.
Strategy for Sovereignty of the Nations of Quebec
On November 27, the Canadian Parliament adopted a motion recognizing the existence of the Quebec nation. Quebec’s minister of intergovernmental affairs, Benoît Pelletier, expressed the hope that this recognition be translated into changes in the Canadian Constitution. He was, however, unable to specify how and, especially, when these changes might take place, given the lack of openness and political will in the ROC (Rest of Canada) to reopen constitutional negotiations. For Mr. Harper, the adoption of this motion does not entail any legal or constitutional consequences. It is undoubtedly a bit early to say whether this superficial political move will lead to any historic gains.
Québec Solidaire’s Electoral Challenge
Québec solidaire, the new progressive political party formed by the merging of the Union des forces progressistes and Option citoyenne, faced its first electoral trial during the by-election on April 10. The general elections expected for fall, 2006, or at latest spring, 2007, will without a doubt be a colossal challenge that will force the young and growing party to face matters head on, while still seeking to do politics differently.
ost activists in English Canada are unaware of its significance, but a new political party has emerged in Quebec that, in many respects, offers the greatest hope for left politics in Mgenerations. At issue is independence, but not only of Quebec from Canada.
Quebec Left Takes Another Historic Step
Over the past ten years, the Quebec Left has been consolidating, building unity and building its strength. Now the Left has taken another important step in the construction of a progressive party that will be a true alternative to neoliberal parties. A new party, Québec solidaire (QS), created by the fusion of the Union des forces progressistes (UFP) and the Option citoyenne (OC) movement, emerged in an atmosphere of celebration among the 1,000 people present for the founding congress held in Montreal from February 3 to 5. With five to six thousand members in all regions of Quebec, QS will enjoy an organizational network capable of mobilizing and initiating a new wave of recruitment. The party will only have two years to develop its electoral platform and its organizational structure in view of the next provincial election rendezvous in 2007.
Just Another Election Amidst the Canadian Impasse
Where would we be today if the Canadian government had responded to the 1995 referendum with a constitutional amendment recognizing the Quebec nation and conferring the concurrent powers? If, at the same time, Canada had at last signed a sustainable agreement with First Nations concerning their territorial and ancestral rights and their right to self-determination? If, while they were at it, Canada reformed its taxation laws to make them more equitable? These changes, we know, did not take place. Neither are they on the current agenda.
The Sovereignty Movement and the Sponsorship Scandal
Québec’s political conjuncture currently favours the integration of the struggle for national independence with other progressive social struggles. We may be headed for a historic rendez-vous that – this time – people will sure not to miss. For this to happen the different components of the sovereignty movement must agree on a common strategy and forge a national (Québec) alliance reflecting all elements of the population without any one party trying to monopolize the process. Will the principal actors concerned – beginning with the Parti-Québécois – be able to take on this historic task?
Quebec Schools Must Be Secular and Public
Quebec premier Jean Charest put his foot in his mouth in January when he announced – and one week later, after public outcry, retracted – that the government would give full public financing to private Jewish schools. This mini-crisis around a decision taken on the sly demonstrated once more that Charest scorns democratic process and also shows a disturbing lack of understanding of Quebec society. Hoping to slip this past the population, Charest instead revived a fundamental debate. In the next few months, Quebeckers may finally show their readiness to remove the last obstacle to the complete secularization of public schools.
Quebec’s National Question
Nine years after the 1995 referendum and the numbness that followed it, Québec is returning to the debate on the national question. The sovereignty movement has never been a monolithic block behind the PQ. Support for sovereignty (around 45 per cent, according to the latest polls) cuts across political positions from right to left. In such a context, a wide debate on strategy is necessary, a debate that could have repercussions on the next electoral campaign, expected in 2007.
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