First Published: In Struggle! Vol. 7, No. 30, April 1, 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The March 21 issue of the Forge contained a supplement outlining the Workers Communist Party programme on the national question in Canada. The WCP stands for the formal recognition of the equal rights of all nationalities. It favours the writing of the right of the Quebec nation to self-determination into the constitution. The WCP also wants other rights respected like the equality of languages and nations, the right of all nationalities to use their language in all areas of political, economic and social life and the right to regional autonomy for oppressed nationalities in those areas where they are concentrated.
The WCP has contended for a long time that the demand for equality of languages and nations was too “general” and abstract. Today the WCP recognizes its importance. Less than a year ago, the WCP trumpeted that fighting to get this basic principle included in the constitution meant in practice liquidating all other forms of struggle against national inequality. It thereby “propagates the illusion that a law could resolve the national question” (The Forge, June 15, 1979). Today they support that fight. Both these changes of position are victories over erroneous positions which should be celebrated.
But there is still a big gap between the formal recognition of this principle in the WCP programme and its application to concrete cases. The WCP talks a lot for example about recognizing Quebec’s right to self-determination. But the WCP didn’t lift a baby finger when the time came to fight Bill 92 (the Quebec Referendum Act) and struggle to change the question so the referendum could genuinely be an exercize of that right. The WCP spokesman at the People’s Parliamentary Committee in Montreal March 14 actually went to the extent of saying that such matters were purely formal and “secondary issues”.
The WCP also writes a lot about the equality of the Quebec and English-Canadian nations in its supplement. It calls for a “freely consented union” between the two nations which will become two associated “Republics”. However, it still denies this status of equality to other nations such as the Native nations. The WCP is “improving” upon the “two founding peoples” concept upheld by Clark, Trudeau and Co. with its idea of “two nations”, and only two nations.
Things get much worse when it raises the demand for the “territorial integrity” of Quebec. What that means in practice is that it will be up to Quebec to decide on the fate of the territorial demands of the Native peoples. It will pointedly not be up to those who the WCP refuse to recognize as nations. The WCP outright denies the Native nations the right to self-determination up to and including separation. The demand for territorial integrity echoes the PQ White Paper assertion that “since the agreements were reached on James Bay, there no longer is any lien on any part of the Quebec territory. In becoming sovereign, Quebec, as is the rule in international law, will thus maintain its territorial integrity”. (page 60)
One would hope that the WCP’s belated recognition of the equality of languages and nations would lead to a rectification of what it says in its programme about national minorities in Canada and the defence of their rights. An article explaining the Draft Programme stated: ”Over the years the vast majority of immigrants who came to Canada were gradually absorbed into the English-Canadian nation.
“However, because of racism against them, some groups of immigrants did not assimilate into the English-Canadian nation. Today they have become oppressed national minorities” (The Forge, June 22, 1979). The WCP programme calls for equal rights (including regional autonomy) for two of these minorities, Black Canadians and Chinese-Canadians. It thereby abandons the struggle against the discrimination and denial of rights faced by all the other minorities such as the Italians, Ukrainians, Pakistanis, Greeks, and Chileans.
Such a policy of opposing equality for all helps divide the minorities from one another still further.
The real programme of the WCP is plain for all to see: encourage and play up to the nationalism of some minorities and abandon any real struggle against the privileges of all nationalities and the discrimination against any minorities!
 In its “theoretical” journal, October, issue no. 7, the WCP writes: “Some Indian tribes called themselves, and still call themselves, nations, like the Dene of the Mackenzie Valley. The term has been used for hundreds of years to define themselves as a distinct people, but it should not be confused with the Marxist term “nation” as defined by Stalin.” The WCP doesn’t give any explanation whatsoever for its assertion that the Dene are not a nation.