The PQ Charter: Ordinary Xenophobia in Canada

The proposed “Charter of Québec values”, along with the wave of ethnic nationalism that it unleashed, must be understood in a context where, as with most imperialist countries, the rights of migrants and minorities are constantly under attack.

Among the charter’s opposition, there are those who claim to uphold multiculturalism in Québec and Canada and defend people of diverse origins. For them, Québec would become the epitome of racism while the rest of Canada would remain a welcoming haven. But nothing is further from the truth: both Québec and Canada are also oppressive, colonialist and racist.

The higher rate of unemployment of migrant, racialized and Aboriginal people, the non-recognition of diplomas, racist attacks police profiling are common characteristics of every Canadian province––particularly, since 2001, the Canadian government, whether Liberal or Conservative, has tightened the criteria for obtaining citizenship, especially for refugees, and made family reunification much more difficult.

Now the Canadian bourgeoisie only wants immigrants with a lot of money or skills in high demand. For the others, the only way to enter Canada may be to accept temporary work with terrible conditions and lower wages. Whether we refer to the British “multicultural” or French “secular” model, the issues of class struggle remain: the ruling class wants to exploit the proletariat as much as it can while continuing to wage wars and plunder resources around the world.

Deportations and imprisonment of migrants without status in Canada are increasing as in the other Western countries. Solidarity Across Borders reports that between 2004 and 2011, as many as 82,000 migrants were detained in immigration prisons. Since 2011, at least 25,000 more have been imprisoned, including some children under 10. According to this network, “$53,775,000 in public money is spent on immigration detention annually or $239 per day. Comparatively, a unit of social housing can be provided at less than $31/day.”

In 2002, when he was Minister of Immigration, the No. 1 aspiring Montréal mayor Denis Coderre reauthorized deportations to Algeria––which was then considered safe for those applying for refugee status but not for Canadian tourists! An occupation of his office in 2003 was faced with severe police repression, including the use of tasers against those non-status Algerians facing deportation. In the context of the “war on terror,” the Liberals issued security certificates and fully supported the imperialist aggression in Afghanistan, where our so-called ‘civilized’ soldiers allegedly went to “democratize Afghanistan and liberate women,” while surfing on the rising tide of Islamophobia.

More recently, Canada concluded a free trade agreement with Europe that is almost unanimously applauded by the bourgeoisie—including the PQ in Québec. Capital and goods will be allowed to move even more freely while workers will continue to be exploited, eventually becoming even more limited in their mobility rights. The Romanian government nearly refused to sign the agreement due to Canada’s visa requirement for Romanian nationals travelling to Canada… and yet present in this country are the Roma—also called Gypsies—who are stigmatized and accused of innumerable crimes, and are among the poorest sections of the European proletariat. Whether in neo-fascist Hungary or in “socialist” France, Roma have had their temporary homes attacked by the police and are considered non-citizens, facing prison and deportation to Romania and Bulgaria.

While a visa is no longer required for Czech citizens since October 18, this requirement imposed by the Canadian government in 2009 is still in force for people coming from Mexico, Romania and Bulgaria. As with the wall of shame that Barack Obama’s United States maintain on its border with Mexico, or the Mediterranean graveyard where exiles from Africa and the Middle East are dying, Canada is limiting access to its territory while increasing its trade. This contradiction will deepen as the crisis of capitalism results in increasing economic, social and environmental disasters. Conflicts generated by inter-imperialist rivalries will continue to make millions of victims around the world, so any idea of stopping migration will remain an illusion and a divisive tool in the hands of our ruling class.

Together, oppose racism and xenophobia!
Neither Québec nor Canada, our future relies on proletarian internationalism!

On October 20, nearly a thousand people answered the call of a coalition called “Ensemble Contre La Charte Xénophobe” and took to the streets in downtown Montréal to strongly oppose the PQ charter and support the “struggles against patriarchy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism and all forms of oppression.” Since the introduction of this project, at least half-a-dozen rallies were held in Montréal and Québec City to denounce the proposed charter. For many, it is clear that the issuance of this charter is mainly a manoeuvre from the PQ to mobilize the most reactionary fringe of its historical social base, while dividing and weakening any popular opposition to their equally reactionary policies. Since the next provincial election is called this fall, winter or later next spring, we must continue to fight against this xenophobic charter and target the “Quebecor Party” (in reference to the corporation that runs Sun News and is scandalously close to the PQ), which chose to borrow the discourse of the European extreme right parties such as Marine le Pen’s National Front. (photo ACAB Media)