Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Unifying the Left in Canada and Quebec: A Necessary Venture

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Unifying the Left in Canada and Quebec: A Necessary Venture

Article excerpt

THE UPCOMING FEDERAL ELECTION raises strategic questions for activists in unions and social movements. The Peoples' Social Forum concluded its three days of discussion last summer with a call to work together to beat the Conservatives, but also to defeat conservatism and neoliberalism, to rebuild a healthy democracy, and to imagine a different system.

Some conversations have already begun in English Canada and the goal of forging a united left coalition is making headway. In Quebec, a group of activists is also beginning to mobilize with the aim of working together with the left in the rest of the country to create the basis of a pan-Canadian political alternative and help foster collaboration between social movements in Quebec and English Canada.

On October 4, a meeting organized by Quebec's Ecosocialist network debated the question of what political strategy to adopt for the 2015 federal elections. In addition to my own introductory remarks, the debate kicked off with presentations by Nathalie Guay, a well-known activist with the conseil central of CSN (Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux), and Benoit Renaud, a Quebec Solidaire activist in Gatineau.

Nathalie Guay reported on certain conclusions stemming from the Peoples' Social Forum about the use of strategic voting to beat Harper. For many people in Quebec, however, this is not a central issue since there are only five Conservative MPs compared to the NDP's 59. Further, according to current polls, if an election were held today Trudeau's Liberals would form a minority government. Strategic voting to beat Harper would therefore benefit the Liberals especially in English Canada, hardly an inspiring prospect.

I made the point that it is essential to begin the process of unifying the left across Canada, but of course it will take time, and the process of building ties between the left in English Canada and the left in Quebec poses a challenge as well. However, with the rise of the right embodied by Harper's Conservatives, and the destructive policies it imposes which are unlikely to be reversed by the Liberals, we simply have to reconsider our options and strategies.

With some notable exceptions such as Alexandre Boulerice, MP for Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, the NDP will never be a motor for far-reaching social change. …

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