Right now we are seeing the rise of a well-funded, coordinated, and vocal right wing in Quebec. Québec lucide and the Réseau liberté-Québec, combined with the continuing atrophy of the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ), our current “gong show” right-wing party, are paving the way for the birth of a true conservative political party. This will likely take the form of François Legault’s Force Québec (FQ). FQ is expected to be a non-separatist, fully conservative, provincial political party, which will snatch an enormous number of centre-right voters from the Parti Québécois (PQ), the ADQ, and even the Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ). But Quebec’s left also has a party it can rally behind: Québec solidaire (QS), and this rallying should start immediately.
The political parties controlling our provincial legislature essentially occupy one side of the spectrum: the right. The dying ADQ is a self-proclaimed rightwing party. The PLQ is headed by former federal Progressive Conservative (PC) party leader Jean Charest, and promises an austerity budget in 2012 that will focus on striking a death blow to the public financing of our internationally-acclaimed social systems.
The PQ is centrist at best: in addition to its preoccupation with Quebec sovereignty and strangling the province’s anglo community, it refuses to denounce the Bloc Québécois’s PC founder and leader of the rightwing group Québec lucide, Lucien Bouchard. The PQ’s fiscal policies focus on the “knowledge economy” – code for transferring public wealth to corporate interests – while paying only lip-service to the maintenance and development of our social systems.
The Parti vert du Québec has a number of progressive policies, but on the whole it has avoided developing a fundamentally progressive ethos, opting instead for pragmatic platforms. Discounting fringe parties like the Bloc Pot and Parti marxiste-léniniste du Québec, which are arguably progressive, we are left with the lone ranger, Québec solidaire, and its champions Françoise David and Amir Khadir, the party’s single Member of the National Assembly (MNA).
QS is the only one of Quebec’s political parties that is truly left. The party is committed to forming a “leftist government,” which “rejects neoliberalism,” and is founded on “progressive politics such as social justice, equitable distribution of wealth, gender equality, sustainable development, elimination of racism, pacifism, and solidarity.” If you consider yourself socially conscious and have paid attention to Khadir’s work in the National Assembly, you’re probably already a convert.
If you aren’t, it may be for one of the following reasons. QS operates almost exclusively in French despite the fact that about twenty per cent of Quebec’s population has another mother tongue. Its website sucks, making it hard to find information. Finally – drum-roll please – QS is committed to Quebec independence, but not so fast with the “uh-oh.” Unlike the PQ, QS is not preoccupied with sovereignty: they rarely mention it publicly, and do not call for an immediate referendum. QS posits that its social development plan for Quebec, which is truly wonderful, cannot be realized within what it considers the “the limits of federalism.” It calls on Quebeckers to use sovereignty as a vehicle to define a new country, the one they dream of living in. Via a consultative process of drafting a constitution, QS aims to construct a fundamentally socialized, sustainable, and equitable participatory democracy, the likes of which North America has never achieved.
Reading QS’s 2008 election commitments, one of the only documents it offers in perfect English, is enough to make you smile-cry. Their vision for our province is beautiful: solid, coherent, and deeply social. It addresses and satisfies the demands of almost every progressive group I am aware of. Québec solidaire is the only party I have ever wanted to join. For the first time in forever, I am excited to participate again. Go read that platform now, and let’s put these people in office in the next election.