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.
Negotiations between the UFP and OC required 13 formal meetings across the space of just over a year. To begin with, the choice was made to work towards agreement on a declaration of principles before moving on to the elaboration of a political platform, drawing on the heritage of the two founding organizations. The founding congress was also charged with the adoption of statutes in line with these principles in order to assure an optimal functioning of the party.
In the past year, the two organizations have also worked together in the field, holding joint activities and supporting diverse social struggles. They have elaborated joint positions on a variety of subjects.
On the one hand, the UFP brings the experience of pre-existing parties that merged in 2002. It brings together a good number of anti-globalization youth activists. It has led electoral campaigns with direct work on the streets. Its membership is in the majority men (60 per cent). Option citoyenne, on the other hand, was born from the politicization of certain sectors of the feminist movement, a fact that helps explain the group’s two-thirds female membership. It brings together many people from the community movements. Although union activists can be found in both organizations, the new party will have the challenge of making greater inroads in this movement.
The new party aims to be environmentalist, left, democratic, feminist, “alter-globalization,” pluralist and in favour of a sovereign and solidarity-oriented Quebec. It is also in favour of the recognition of the ancestral and territorial rights of the First Nations. Entirely committed to “the defense and promotion of the common good,” Québec solidaire will prioritize “the collective interest over the interest of a privileged minority by opposing neoliberalism, the modern version of capitalism, which dominates our societies and mortgages our future, as well as that of the planet.”
One of the most important challenges of an emerging party like Québec solidaire is undoubtedly the coherence and the congruence of its daily practices with the principles and values it puts forward, beginning with gender relations. A joint document on the functioning of the new party specifies these central values: participatory democracy at all levels of decision-making; equal representation of men and women sought at all levels; promotion of truly cooperative relations; collective management; the right to individual and collective dissidence within the framework of the democratic process; the Women’s World Charter for humanity as a constant source of inspiration; equality, solidarity, justice, liberty and peace.
Finally, the birth of Québec solidaire must be seen as part of a long process that is closely tied to the development of social struggles on all fronts. Its political role will be not only to bring the concerns of social movements to the electoral scene, but also to contribute to social movements through political support and a true presence “in the streets” with those who are fighting to defend their rights, to protect the environment and to demonstrate that “another Quebec, and another world, are possible.”