In the wake of the rush to northern Quebec, Montreal’s biggest corporations met on February 8 and 9 for the “Natural Resources Trade Show” organized by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. Demonstrations opposing the trade show brought together hundreds of people who condemned the plundering of resources and the theft of indigenous territories.
This new edition of what was last year called the “Plan Nord Trade Show” was fully supported by the PQ government and even attended by its Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau. Such event provides an opportunity for big companies and investors to ask for help and benefits from the State.
Under “Plan Nord,” corporations will not only be allowed to wreck the ecosystem of an immense territory, much of which belongs to indigenous people, but the State will help by building the necessary infrastructure for their invasion. Premier Pauline Marois, who once promised that there would be no such thing as a “Plan Nord” with a PQ government, now clearly stands on the side of looters and crooks, including big corporations such as Rio Tinto, ArcelorMittal and SNC-Lavalin.
So the Montreal bourgeoisie was therefore gathered at this trade show to discuss how to better plunder resources that belong to others. Corporations were looking for cheap labour and tax benefits that would enable them to make more profit without having to give too many crumbs to the indigenous communities inhabiting those territories. Clearly, the “Plan Nord” won’t benefit the proletariat or indigenous people, but only the capitalists.
On the afternoon of February 8, some 400 people tried to enter the convention center to show their solidarity “with all communities resisting this development model that is imposed on them, in the North as in the South.” Then they took the streets and held a militant demo in downtown Montreal. The next morning, a second demonstration of nearly 500 people was brutally attacked and dispersed by the police after a window from the convention center had been broken. In the end, 36 people were arrested, including 32 for “unlawful assembly,” three for “assaulting against the police” and one for “concealment.”
This again led to a vigorous debate on social networks between those who advocated “non-violence” and defenders of those who tried to enter the convention center. Some people automatically associate the slightest gesture of confrontation as “provocation” by police agents —as if it is impossible that ordinary people can become angry enough to show their opposition in a more militant way.
That the organizers of Saturday’s demo didn’t see it as strategic for a window to be broken may be understandable; but it was the organizers’ responsibility to ensure that the objectives of the demo were understood by everyone attending. The fight against the “Plan Nord” and the looting of indigenous territories and their resources by big corporations is just beginning: we will need many more actions —including direct and more militant ones— in order to block them.
In a leaflet distributed at the time of the protests, the PCR-RCP Canada highlighted the main issue of this struggle: “Today, indigenous people are rising against looting capitalists; the Revolutionary Communist Party is strongly supporting them against any manoeuvres aiming at dividing them. The liberation struggle of indigenous people is a ferment of the communist revolution! We must crush Canadian imperialism that tries to annihilate indigenous peoples, and build our ‘red power’ throughout the whole territory. Only such revolution will bring a genuine and lasting solution: self-determination for indigenous people, collectivization of all resources and means of production and workers power!”