First Published: People’s Canada Daily News Release, May 18, 1972
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Toronto (PCDN) May 17 – PCDN has received, an article entitled: “The Path of Protracted Preparation for Revolutionary Struggle is the Only Solution for the Quebec Working Class to Win its Strike Struggles, Oppose Fascist Repression and the Politics of Class Collaboration, to Seize Political Power and Win Complete Emancipation!”, written by the Montreal People’s Revolutionary Committee of the Communist Party of Quebec (Marxist-Leninist). The full text of the article follows:
Since April 11, when over 210,000 government and hospital workers walked out in the largest single strike in Canadian and Quebec history, the Quebec worker’s struggle against capitalist exploitation and for national liberation, socialism and communism, has made a step forward.
“Why”, many workers are asking themselves, “did the Common Front leaders call the strike at this time without a single attempt to mobilise the union membership to fight and win?” In looking into this question carefully the full answer soon emerges.
The Common Front, the Laberge-Pepin-Charbonneau-Chartrand clique, on April 11, tried to launch the Quebec working class into a political struggle against the Liberal regime, a janitor government for US imperialist monopoly corporations and the pillar for Anglo-Canadian colonialism in our country. The clique’s aim was clear and at no time did they try to hide it: They wanted to mobilize the working class behind the Parti Quebecois banner of a “separate Quebec” (separate from Ottawa but united with Washington). To do this they tried to launch the workers into a strike struggle that they, the Common Front, had no intention of winning do that they could then whimper and cry that “the government does not care about the workers”, “we must smash the regime”, “we must elect our own men into office” and then present Rene Levesque and his pro-US imperialist party (“Comrade Levesque”, as Michel Chartrand called him at the Forum on February 28th) as the alternative, as “the political party closest to the Quebec workers” which was Laberge’s statement during the December 11 FTQ Congress.
Thus, when the Liberal regime defended itself from this PQ orientated attack by passing FASCIST LAWS AGAINST THE QUEBEC WORKING CLASS and threatened to decertify the PQ orientated Common Front unions, these union bureaucrats, the $20,000 per year traitors to the working class, capitulated before the bourgeois threats and allowed the working class to become the target of fascist attacks. Injunctions, jailings of hospital workers, fines against unions and the removal of the right to strike with Bill 19 – all this is the joint handiwork of the fascist Bourassa-Trudeau-Nixon regime of national betrayal and the Pepin-Laberge-Charbonneau-Chartrand clique of class collaborators!
Because the capitalist union traitors had no intention of winning the strike struggle and therefore did not mobilize but actively repressed the rank and file, they ran like scared rabbits when the government threatened reprisals. On Friday they cried that “we were forced to call off the strike because we knew that eight hours was too short a time to consult the rank and file”. On Monday they changed to “we called off the strike because we were not strong enough to fight the riot squad. We did not want to commit suicide.” On Friday Laberge was shouting “We must smash the regime”. On Monday Laberge was whispering, “We don’t want to smash the regime, we just want to change it.”
The working class, the rank and file, however, ROSE IN REBELLION AGAINST FASCIST REPRESSION AND CLASS COLLABORATION OVER THE WEEKEND. Workers at Sacre Coeur Hospital ripped and burned their union cards. On Sunday workers denounced the common front leaders as traitors and stormed out of a union meeting. Class hatred against the bourgeois state machine and its capitalist union boot-lickers flared white hot and hundreds of workers, hospital workers, teachers, civil servants and others, announced that “The only path left is revolution!”
“But we wanted to find out,” the union hacks snivelled, “if the workers were for or against Bill 19.” “WE ARE ALL AGAINST BILL 19!”, the workers replied in one voice, “WHAT WE WANT TO DO IS TO FIGHT IT NOW!”.“You are the traitors,” they added, “who led us here and then ran away. We will deal with you soon.” No backtracking or hastily called “May Day Demonstration” or “24 Hour General Strike” can today hide the fact that the Laberge-Pepin-Charbonneau-Chartrand clique are enemies of the working class, enemies of the anti-imperialist revolution, enemies of the national liberation struggle and the people. Nothing can hide the face that the political line of the Marxist-Leninist party of the Quebec proletariat, the Parti Communiste du Quebec (Marxiste-Leniniste), has been proved entirely correct once again and that this party is leading the anti-imperialist revolution in our nation.
By positive and negative examples the workers on strike have seen that unprincipled unity based on economic demands is no unity whatsoever. Demands which divide one section of the workers from all others and which are negotiated in secret between the union “experts” and the bourgeoisie are never demands which will build the struggle to emancipate the working people from capitalist exploitation and national oppression. Only unity on the basis of class demands is a fighting unity, a revolutionary unity.
Disunity was never more apparent than when the Common Front presented the economic demands (gains that will disappear quickly within the year) and ordered the local union executives to suppress discussions, expel dissidents from meetings as was done at the hospitals, collaborate with police on the picket lines as they did at Montreal General and other hospitals, and actively protected the scabs from the anger of the working people.
Unity was never stronger, class hatred was never stronger than when the Common Front collapsed and allowed the Bourassa-Trudeau-Nixon regime of national betrayal to pass one fascist anti-worker law after another. “We have the right to strike, to speak, to organise politically, to agitate and we do not have to ask anyone’s permission to do so” this is the people’s logic. “We do not need $20,000 per year “experts” to manipulate us and tell us the “legality” or “constitutionality” of this, that or the other law. We defy all anti-working class laws, whether they are passed “legally or illegally”, whether they are “constitutional or unconstitutional”, whether they are municipal, provincial or federal because all laws are passed by the bourgeois state machine and therefore exist to protect state power for itself and to oppress the working class – this also is the people’s logic in Quebec and Canada today.
We witnessed, thus, last week, the betrayal once again, but on a much higher level, of the traitor capitalist unions. These unions have long ceased to be centres of resistance and they are centres of social-fascism (socialism in words and fascism in deeds) where well paid parasites live off the labour of the working class just like any monopoly capitalist does. The Quebec capitalist unions are key centres of bourgeois repression and all revolutionaries have total contempt and hatred for them.
In 1969 the Quebec Marxist-Leninists, followers of Chairman Mao Tsetung, first introduced the mass democratic, anti-imperialist method of work into the hospital worker’s struggle. Union hacks were forced to answer to the workers and all their corruption and treacheries were exposed: the deliberate neglect of grievances, the swindling of union funds for holiday purposes. The communist workers set about building underground discussion and resistance groups to fight for the true interests of the workers. The union local president collaborated with the CNTU fascists (Paul Thibault, Bossť and Company) and the hospital administration to repress the right to speak out. They conspired to fire a social worker who was active in the interests of the working class and they desperately tried to pit one section of the workers against the others (black against white, French-speaking against English-speaking, and Jewish against non-Jewish). When all this failed the CNTU attempted to assassinate a communist worker militantly engaged in this struggle.
This was all done in those days under the hoax that “Politics should not be brought into the unions”. This meant that they, the class collaborators, had every right to preach reformism (peaceful elections will end exploitation is preached to the people while the imperialists never cease using violence in defence of their class), economism (only ask for shorter hours, more pay, etc, that is only negotiate how much you are to be exploited, how you want to die and do not fight for the total end of the exploitation of man by man) and pessimism (capitalism is here and there is no way out – while they, the class, collaborators, live high off the hog on union dues collected). Thus they give themselves the rights to repress and manipulate but they give the workers no rights to use revolutionary communist ideas in their own class defence.
In 1969 the communist workers exposed “keeping politics out of trade unions” as an unclever fraud which meant “keeping communist ideas which serve the working class out while keeping capitalist ideas which serve the bourgeoisie in”. The national agitation and propaganda against this line, together with the concrete experience gained through years of class struggle has led to the current situation where the so-called “powerful” capitalist trade unions, held up as the “socialist” instrument for the future by all kinds of reformists and revisionists, are totally discredited in the eyes of the workers. This is an excellent situation!
Class conscious workers always examine practice, not words. In the past weeks and months they have seen the Pepin-Laberge-Charbonneau-Chartrand clique shout for “unity” while organising disunity among the workers. They have seen them shout “against repression” while organising to repress the rank and file and the communist workers as Michel Chartrand did at the Montreal Forum on November 2nd last year when he fascistically “forbade” the distribution (to no avail) of a communist leaflet to “his workers” present. They shout about “opposing anti-working class laws” and then capitulate to Bill 19, jailings and injunctions. “We will obey the law but not respect the law”, Laberge cried on Saturday, April 22. And when the imperialists pass laws forbidding any working class organisation, banning communist parties, laws to imprison working class fighters, will you also “obey but not respect the law”??! And when they pass laws establishing concentration camps and gas chambers, what will you do, traitor, “obey but not respect the law?” This exposes you and your gang totally and completely as AGENTS OF THE BOURGEOISIE IN THE RANKS OF THE PEOPLE – AGENTS THAT MUST BE WEEDED OUT AND CRUSHED FOR THE WORKING CLASS STRUGGLE TO MOVE FORWARD TODAY.
Hundreds of workers are rising today to denounce fascist repression and class collaboration. Propaganda teams of communist workers, students and youth have fanned out throughout the city of Montreal and have been greeted with clenched fist salutes and shouts of enthusiastic support. At various hospitals the teams were greeted with contemptuous “What? More of that stuff from the union?” until the workers found out this was the Communist Party of Quebec (Marxist-Leninist) and took leaflets with great surprise and jubilation.
“Those guys (Pepin-Laberge-Charbonneau) ”, one worker said, “tell us to run. They’ve been saying that all our lives and the time has now come to step and to fight.” At Maimonides hospital a propaganda team was warmly received and a large quantity of leaflets were taken inside for distribution and discussion. At the Palais de justice when Michel Chartrand ran down on Friday, April 21, to harangue the workers with his counter-revolution and his “May Day General Strike” one worker angrily replied, “Laberge-Pepin-Charbonneau have betrayed us. You are just the same. Where were you the last few days when we were fighting? What have you ever done to organise the workers? You’ve done nothing and now you come here with your big mouth to play politics on our backs. We have had enough of you!”
WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH! is the stand of Quebec workers today. WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH of all the bourgeois political parties. WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH of all those who would keep us as slaves in our own land. WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH of these political tricks in which our just demands in a major strike are used to support a fascist, pro- US imperialist Part Quebecois – another capitalist party of national betrayal which wants to do away with “Ottawa” in order to join Washington.
A vigorous class war is beginning to start. In this war victory will never be achieved without eliminating the influence of all bourgeois organisations from the worker’s ranks, all phoney “revolutionary” phrase-mongers, including that carcass that stinks confusion, the ’peaceful, socialist’ so-called “communist” party in Quebec. New proletarian organisations are being built by the Communist Party of Quebec (Marxist-Leninist).
Underground resistance and discussion groups are being formed which will (1) expose all exploiting class, capitalist ideas in the ranks of the workers and then thoroughly reject them, (2) propagate the summation of hundreds of years of working class revolutionary struggles to seize state power – Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, and (3) organise resistance to exploitation, bullying and repression right on the shop floor, at the point of production.
This new step is developing material conditions to seize political power from the hands of the bourgeoisie and their capitalist agents in the trade unions and it will unleash a wave of revolutionary struggle in the very near future. All other forms of organisation being pushed today are bourgeois and are counter-revolutionary. Numerous workers have come forward in denunciation of these bourgeois “workers” organisations and they are actively rallying to the call of the Communist Party. They have utter contempt for those who promote “common fronts” of the capitalist unions, for those who are “expert Marxist-Leninists” who refuse to build the proletarian party and instead vegetate in the perches of the capitalist unions and shout that “they can be moved to the left”. All this is counter-revolutionary sham and bound to fail.
“We need revolutionary clandestine groups that oppose terrorism and that take a protracted revolutionary attitude towards hitting the enemy and seizing political power,” this is what workers are talking about. As one worker exclaimed after seeing a Party leaflet for the first time, “LOOK, THERE IS A COMMUNIST PARTY!” This enthusiasm marks the coming in of the new. When workers look around themselves today and see the victories of the international proletariat and especially the victories of the Chinese people and the Indo-Chinese people they are filled with revolutionary enthusiasm for revolution and communism. This is what is new today. THE CURRENT STRIKE STRUGGLE IS THE BEGINNING-OF THE GREAT DIVORCE BETWEEN THE WORKING CLASS OF QUEBEC AND ALL SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC AND REFORMIST CONTROL OF THE MASS WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT. It is the beginning of the era of the rapid spread of communist ideas and organisations in the working class, the new era of party building among the proletariat. Revolutionary area committees are well established and must be multiplied. Communities will become centres of resistance and revolution. Revolutionary discussion and resistance groups among the workers has been greeted with tremendous enthusiasm and under the leadership of the Party are bound to flourish. The days of imperialist control are numbered – a great revolutionary storm is in the making!
LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF REBELLION OF THE QUEBEC WORKING CLASS!
DOWN WITH THE CLASS COLLABORATIONIST COMMON FRONT!
DOWN WITH THE FASCIST LAWS OF THE REGIME OF NATIONAL BETRAYAL!
BUILD THE WORKING CLASS DISCUSSION AND RESISTANCE GROUPS