First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol 1, No. 7, December, 1969
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The struggle against Bill 63 and for the recognition of French as the national language of Quebec is a struggle for a basic democratic right. The right is suppressed by the Canadian bosses for, whom national oppression is a means to superexploit the French workers of Quebec. This superexploitation is part and parcel of the exploitation all the working class of Canada suffers under the dictatorship of the Canadian bourgeoisie (allied to U.S. imperialism).
As national oppression is directed against the workers, they must advance the front lines in the struggle for democratic rights and take the leadership. They must fight the government and its anti-democratic laws such as the maintenance of a double-school system. It is at one and the same time a source both of privilege and of division in the midst of the working class. They must struggle for integrated schools open to all without distinction as to language or religion, and against private schools that pillage the workers and their allies of resources to which they have the right. In these integrated schools the national minorities who want it could have courses on their own language and cultural background. The English national minority in Quebec, composed chiefly of people from the working classes must also have the right to a proportion of up to 50% of the courses in that language; that is to say, a bilingual education. Thus, rather than being imposed on the minority, bilingualism is recognized as a minority right. This right likewise applies to all the French minorities in Canada. The existence of an integrated school and the recognition of these rights greatly contributes to the unity of the workers and their allies throughout Canada. This is the necessary condition for the overthrow of the Canadian bourgeois dictatorship dominated as it is by U.S. imperialism, for the establishment of workers’ rule, recognizing the right of the Quebec nation to self-determination, and for resistance to imperialism.
The motivation behind the immigrants’ opting for courses in English lies in the fact that there is an economic advantage in speaking English in Quebec. This is why the working class must fight the bosses so that this right be concretely decided in economic life. Only the struggle of the workers will establish French as the working language of Quebec.
Limiting ourselves to a struggle for integrated schooling without exposing the entire bourgeois system of education, and the capitalist system itself, is to fall into the hands of the French-Canadian petty-bourgeois nationalists. What is the objective of this group? It wants to replace the English-Canadian bourgeoisie in the capitalist framework, and assume the management of U.S. imperialism in Quebec. It by no means struggles for the liberation of workers. It only struggles for its own selfish ends using nationalism to mobilize all the people under its leadership. In other words, it wants a bigger slice of the profits from exploitation of Quebec workers.
The F.Q.F, (Front for a French Quebec) preaches class collaboration and sympathy towards those defenders of private property, the “Quebecois” police force, even to the extent of collaborating with them during the dispersion of the October 31st demonstration, using gas. There are many “Quebecois” scabs.... Mr. F. A. Angers, a well-known reactionary, collaborates with Mr. Raymond Lemieux, architect, past member of the Kiwanis Club and past vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce in St. Leonard – these are petty-bourgeois who would like high posts in the “social pyramid”, and for this reason it’s – down with the English!
The nationalist petty-bourgeoisie has little economic force and cannot take power without the mass support of the workers. That’s why it resorts to all sorts of demagogy to the effect that it will “liberate” the workers (whom it would force to pay the price for “independence”). The mouthings of the Nationalist “Left” contribute nothing but division and confusion in the midst of the workers. They ally with the little bosses and don the garb of syndicalism in order to reach a larger “public”.
Thus we have the beautiful marriage of the F.Q.F. and the Central Council of the Confederation of National Trade Unions – elected by working-class delegates? – to the League for School Integration (Raymond Lemieux), and to Quebec-Presse, organ of the Parti Quebecoise.
The so-called Popular Front for Liberation and other nationalist organizations are more concerned with finding allies among the petty-bourgeoisie than with organizing the workers in their factories. Their politics lead them to prefer Quebecois agents of U.S. imperialism to their sister “traitors” among the Federalists.
For several years, the student movement has frequently shown an appreciable support for strikes. But the inconsistency of its leadership is encouraging the most unhealthy elements within its ranks. Today, the student movement follows in the wake of the petty-bourgeois nationalists, whether they be of the Right like Raymond Lemieux, or of the “Left’ like Stanley Gray.
Many students are fed up with capitalist society and are no longer attracted by traditional functions. Their spontaneous tendency is often an individualistic flight towards a life more or less migratory, towards drugs or other means of escape. In fact, however, the structure of exploitation easily accomodates such non-political attitudes. Others think they can escape through new activities apparently more “interesting” – journalism, sociology, etc. The student milieu favors petty-bourgeois individualism and makes easy ground for nationalism, an ideology that in general represents rising sectors of the petty-bourgeoisie in Quebec. These same foresee economic promotion through the manipulation of what would be the independent state of Quebec.
But a good portion of the students are geared towards the forward march of labour. They see there is no other choice, that the best possible future for them is to ally themselves with the working class right away. A worker-student alliance is built through support for workers’ struggles, especially strikes, and by the development of ties with campus workers in order to carry on a common struggle with them. The students of S.D.S. in the USA and those of several Canadian campuses have already developed such an alliance.
Because of its strategic position, the working class is the only class capable of overthrowing the capitalist system. For this it needs a genuinely Communist Party, the highest form of organization, regrouping the workers of the two nations of Canada. It is built with workers, in the factories. Only a solid working-class base can accomplish the Socialist Revolution.
(TRANSLATION of a CPL leaflet passed out in Montreal in support of political prisoners Vallieres and Gagnon.)