Public debate is raging in Québec after the tabling of the “Charter of Québec Values” by the PQ government. As expected, the Parti Québécois wants to ban the wearing of any religious symbol for state employees and any staff from schools, hospitals, colleges, universities and daycare centers. An exception will be made for smaller symbols considered “less disturbing”, such as the Catholic cross that some may wear around the neck. Similarly, the crucifix will remain at the National Assembly and prayers will continue to be authorized at town council meetings: the PQ’s “secularism” is certainly strange.
On September 14, thousands of people took to the streets in Montréal to denounce the “racist values” underlying the PQ project. Thousands endorsed a public manifesto calling for an “inclusive Québec” initiated by academics and intellectuals. Even within the separatist movement many, such as Bloc Québécois’ MP Maria Mourani, recognized the ugly face of ethnic nationalism and now question their support to the PQ project.
Even if it is positive in the current context, this liberal critique of the PQ project, which mainly relies on the “rights and freedoms” that the capitalist system was forced to concede in the last century, remains limited: it will probably be unconvincing to the proletarian masses who enjoy very few of those rights and who are precisely those the PQ is trying to rally.
We believe it would be wiser to look at this problem from a class perspective. As proletarians, it is always better to take a stand according to our interests rather than in relation to our origins or our adherence to a particular religion. This is the only way to determine who are our enemies and who are our friends—those we can and should unite with to fight the former. So let’s answer some basic questions:
- In Québec, who supported the ransacking of Employment Insurance by the Harper government, thereby increasing the vulnerability of thousands of workers? The Conservative Party’s Christian Paradis, Denis Lebel, Maxime Bernier…
- Who took inspiration from those changes to EI so as to implement similar changes to the welfare system? The PQ’s Agnès Maltais.
- Who decided to maintain the regressive health tax originally imposed by the Liberals and did the same with the 6% increase of electricity rates? The PQ’s Nicolas Marceau.
- Who allowed the mining and oil companies to continue their looting projects in Québec? The PQ’s Martine Ouellet.
- Who is continuing to implement former Premier Jean Charest’s “Plan Nord” that violates territorial rights of people whose “historical heritage” is certainly as deserving as ours? The PQ’s Pauline Marois.
- Who defended, tooth and nail, the infamous increase of university tuition fees during the “Maple Spring?” The Liberal Party’s Line Beauchamp & Michelle Courchesne. Who finally increased these fees after having hypocritically worn the “red square?” The PQ’s Pierre Duchesne.
- Who has always refused to improve the anti-scab legislation to make it an effective tool for preventing the capitalists from using scabs against workers on strike? The PQ’s Diane Lemieux, Jean Rochon, Liberal’s Laurent Lessard, Line Thériault. Who still does nothing to correct this situation? The PQ’s Agnès Maltais.
- Who organized and profited from the criminal system of corruption currently unveiled by the Commission Charbonneau? Engineers Rosaire Sauriol, Luc Leclerc, Bernard Trépanier—let’s not forget the former Mayor of Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt.
Of all the people mentioned above, how many Muslims? How many Sikhs wearing a turban? How many women wearing and Islamic headscarf?
Those named above are all “genuine Quebecers” who speak “our language” and share “our values” (at least that’s what they tell us!). They all claim the same “historical heritage” valorized by the PQ Charter. Yet these people are the ones who attack us daily. The truth is that their “values” have nothing to do with ours.
So PQ, you want to talk about “identity?” Let’s talk about it! Ours is that of the workers’ collective solidarity.
Brothers and sisters of the working class, let us not be fooled. Reject the trap of ethnic nationalism. Unite and fight together—no matter what we believe in or where we come from—for a future and a world free from capitalism and any exploitation!