Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist)

For the unity of the proletariat of the two nations

First Published:The Forge, Vol. 1 No. 8, April 8, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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At the March 22nd demonstration, Quebecois and English-Canadian workers joined voices to shout out their unyielding opposition to the wage freeze at Trudeau and the Canadian bourgeoisie, whom he represents. This shows that the Canadian proletariat must bury national differences and unite in a class against class struggle against the principal enemy.

But, to break down national barriers and to build a lasting unity between the proletariat of both nations, it is not enough to march together now and then. What is needed is, in the first place, that all the advanced elements of the proletariat across the country acquire a revolutionary class consciousness and organize in a Marxist-Leninist communist party to lead the struggle of the working masses for socialism and communism.

But that’s not all. In the concrete situation in Canada, the unity of the proletariat must be based on a recognition of the fact that Quebec is an oppressed nation which must have the right to self-determination and independence. This is a question of principle for any Marxist-Leninist organization.

The Canadian bourgeoisie has always refused to recognize not only the right of self-determination for the Quebec nation, but even its existence. Trudeau – who came to power promising to stem the rising tide of Quebec nationalism – has distinguished himself as a particular enemy of the Quebec people, both in his speeches and his actions (like the War Measures Act in 1970).

Today he is raising the issue of the “repatriation of the constitution” but this new constitution will still be that of a bourgeois state – it will never guarantee the right of the Quebec nation to secede.

The Quebec nation must absolutely have the right to treely secede because it is oppressed. The setting up of a French television station in Vancouver provoked a public outcry. But in Quebec, and especially in Montreal, radio, television and cinema are anglicizing the Quebecois, and English schools welcome those who are driven to renounce their national identity. This is what the bilingualism and biculturalism of Trudeau and company is masking Quebecois workers generally receive lower wages than their English-Canadian brothers in Quebec, and the rate of unemployment is always higher than in the rest of the country. How many other facts account for the national oppression of the Quebec people?

The Quebec nation occupies an inferior position socio-economically and in terms of institutionalized culture. Who profits from this? None other than the bourgeoisie, which gains economic advantages (cheap labour) and. especially political advantages: by propagating big nation chauvinism and by stirring up bourgeois nationalism in Quebec, it can sabotage the unity of the proletariat and of the people of both nations and thus maintain its domination more easily.

We must denounce all manifestations of the national oppression of the Quebec people and combat bourgeois nationalism This takes on two forms English-Canadian chauvinism and narrow Quebec nationalism, the first is completely reactionary and only serves to legitimize national oppression. The second is ambivalent: it opposes national oppression but its masks the causes and the ways to eliminate it.

To realize the most solid unity between the proletariat of the two nations, mutual contempt must be struggled against. We must eliminate all feelings of national superiority on the part of English Canadian proletarians on the one hand, and narrow nationalism on the part of Quebec proletarians on the other How can we do this?

The essential condition is that the proletariat be united around the demand for the right of the Quebec nation to self-determination on the one hand and that if struggle against all attempts to divide it in the face of its common enemy, the Canadian bourgeoisie.

To struggle for the right of the Quebec nation for self-determination is to recognize that it has the right to chose that form of political organization which seems the most likely to get rid of national oppression. It can even chose independence and break its political ties with the rest of Canada. But in no case should this choice be prevented by violence or the threat of the resort to violence on the part of the Canadian government.

By supporting this demand, the Canadian proletariat will prove that it rejects the bourgeoisie’s policy of national oppression Then, the Quebec proletariat will be better able to understand the complete unity of interests of the proletariat of both nations, and, consequently, will better see that the nationalism of the Parti Quebecois is contrary to its class interests. The English-Canadian proletariat will better see its unity of interests which binds it to its class brothers and sisters in Quebec by fighting for Quebec’s right to self-determination. This is the only way to fight great nation chauvinism which is fueled by the bourgeoisie On the other hand, the Quebec proletariat must engage m the struggle for socialism in Canada and reject separatism as the solution.

Besides this does not in any way serve the interests of the proletarian revolution in the present conditions; on the contrary it can only weaken the proletariat in the face of a unified Canadian bourgeoisie and divide the Canadian people in the face of its two biggest external enemies American imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism.