By the time this article goes to press, it is almost certain that the Parti Québécois minority government will infringe its own law on fixed election dates and call for a general election to be held sometime in April. This will be the highly predictable culmination of the racist, xenophobic and islamophobic campaign that the PQ launched last summer, of which the so-called “Charter of Québec values” is the centerpiece. The PQ wishes to win a majority so as to revive its nationalist project of building a “strong state” for supporting Québec capitalists and completing their successful integration into the dominant camp within the world imperialist system.
The austerity measures already put forward by the Marois government since the last election 18 months ago show the true nature of this project. We only have to think of the various fee increases (university tuition, childcare, electricity), which affect mainly low-income people, and recognize that, at the same time, the PQ maintained the massive tax cuts to businesses made by the previous Liberal government. Or we can also remember the systematic cuts to welfare, health and the education system they made or announced in their last budget. Contrary to the promises they made during the last electoral campaign, the PQ also enthusiastically upholds the all-for-profit development of mining and oil exploration, while rejecting the territorial rights of indigenous nations and the protection of the environment.
Meanwhile, the PQ has completed its turn from the so-called “civic and open nationalism” it previously upheld to an openly conservative and even ethnic nationalism, for which they clearly drew inspiration from the experience of the now defunct “Action Démocratique du Québec” and from the success of some far-right parties in Europe, particularly the National Front in France.
Since the the PQ issued a charter that specifically targets Quebecers—and especially women—of Muslim background, a wave of racism and Islamophobia swept across the province. The number of incidents in which Muslims are victims of assault is on the rise and various forms of harassment are becoming a daily reality.
The PQ and the big shots who support it—like Québecor/Sun Media’s Pierre-Karl Péladeau—are only too happy to see traditional Québec-born proletarians attacking their fellow workers of diverse origins rather than fighting those who truly hold power in Québec and are responsible for the problems we face.
As far as we know, there are not many Muslims among the bourgeois politicians who decided to cut welfare, ransack Employment Insurance, and increase by nearly 6% the rates of Hydro-Québec. Nor are there many Muslims in the Board of Directors of the Québec Employers Council or the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montréal, both of which complained that the shabby “rise” of 20 cents of the minimum wage announced by the PQ was too generous. But for Richard Martineau-style big mouths in the corporate media, who live comfortably in the current system, “Political Islam” is apparently the main problem facing Québec workers.
For us proletarians, such propaganda is a dangerous trap. If the PQ succeeds in getting reelected, enforcing its charter and reviving its nationalist project, our whole class will be weakened and will then pay the price. Thus, during the 33-day electoral campaign, we must give no respite to the racist Parti Québécois and its candidates! We must wage the political battle where it counts—that is to say, in the streets—to make them swallow their charter and their austerity measures aimed at making workers pay for the recovery of capitalist profits.
Readers of this newspaper are invited to participate en masse in any street demos, as well as target bourgeois politicians who support the charter and the austerity agenda. We should support the various initiatives undertaken by groups such as the “Collectif Québécois Contre l’Islamophobie” and the “Ensemble Contre la Charte Xénophobe” network. Or we can join committees for an election boycott that will fight against the bourgeois system, for socialism and workers’ power.
Against hate speech of the racist and Islamophobic big mouths, let’s make loud and clear our point of view—that of the multinational working-class united against the capitalists and their state!