First Published: The Forge Vol. 1, No. 22, November 18, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The PQ’s victory in the Quebec provincial elections has intensified the growing contradictions within the bourgeoisie, and added to a mounting economic crisis in Canada which can only worsen the political situation.
Already the Canadian bourgeoisie is divided on several questions of internal and external policies. We could see throughout the summer and autumn that the conflicts were deepening continuously. The Trudeau government and the sectors of the bourgeoisie that support it were publicly criticized for their policy favouring links with Europe, Japan and the third world rather than with the U.S. They were attacked as well for the methods they chose to pull themselves out of the mire of the crisis, for example several sectors of the bourgeoisie violently opposed Bill C-73. The official bilingualism policy has also provoked a strong chauvinist reaction from the dominant English-Canadian nation.
To these crucial conflicts is now added the question of what attitude to take to the demands of a nationalist Quebec government and thus the question of the country’s unity.
Certain sectors are already pushing for the adoption of a tough position: centralization at any price. In contrast, other sectors of the bourgeoisie, particularly in Alberta where they’re closely linked to decentralization of the Canadian state for the benefit of the provincial governments.
The new PQ tactic that takes and exercizes power in Quebec IN THE FRAMEWORK OF CONFEDERATION while negotiating with the federal government for the repatriation of “government powers” (a strategy that leaves unclear the outcome of such negociations, leaving open the possibility of a “new form of partnership” in Canada) is not without certain advantages for these sectors of the bourgeoisie.
The economic crisis is getting worse and the period of “economic recovery” is turning out to be a mirage. For this winter, the least pessimistic bourgeois economists predict a record level of unemployment for Canada, serious economic stagnation and galloping inflation.
The return of the crisis is occuring at the time when the bourgeoisie is more and more divided and its capacity to respond in a unified manner is becoming weaker and weaker.
Trudeau’s solution, the wage freeze and a modified form of price and profit controls to control inflation, has not been accepted unanimously in the ranks of the bourgeoisie and has received strong opposition.
Thus this political crisis which is becoming more and more serious within the ranks of the bourgeoisie, can only add to and worsen the sharpening economic crisis which is hitting the country.
In Quebec, the PQ won’t be able to do a thing about the worsening crisis. The reforms and the election promises which it guaranteed the voters, cannot be implemented because of the lack of funds. As early as the day before the elections one of the PQ’s economic experts and a sure-bet minister, R. Tremblay, was saying that the reforms which the PQ promised would certainly be put off for two or three years because of the terrible state of the economy.
But to counter class struggle and to prevent the rapid disillusionment of many men and women workers, the PQ will exploit nationalistic feelings to the hilt. It will strongly encourage narrow-nationalism, pushing for “national unity” against English-Canada and the federal government which it will accuse of being responsible for all our problems.
What’s more, they will try to collaborate more closely with the already sympathetic union bureaucrats from the Quebec union federations, in order to stifle and sabotage the struggles for just demands.
In the beginning, the PQ has a chance of having some success with this tactic.
But the masses discontent with the crisis and the hopes for reforms which caused them to vote for the PQ, will rapidly push them to form their own fighting organizations and to demand their promised reforms. The PQ’s attitude to these struggles, which it will be forced to repress and sabotage, will contribute to unmask it more and more in the eyes of the masses. Thus, alter a short while, struggles will take on more strength, in Quebec.
In English Canada, the PQ’s victory will open up an opportunity for the most reactionary bourgeois forces to set off a chauvinist campaign against the Quebec people and to call for the unity of English-Canada to counter “the most important threat with which Canada has had to deal since Confederation.” The oppression of the national minorities will be stepped up.
The bourgeois forces will try not only to prepare the ideological terrain for possible aggression against the Quebec nation but also to turn English-Canadians from class struggle and sabotage the development of the powerful united struggle which the October 14 general strike announced.
This complex situation means that communists will have to provide just and flexible tactics which will allow us to deal with this difficult period.
In Quebec, Marxist-Leninists will have to relentlessly take up the task of putting forward that the only solution for the masses is a socialist revolution in Canada. We will continue to explain our program on the national question including the fundamental right to self-determination and to explain to the masses that the solution which the PQ puts forward on the national question is a false solution which serves only the interests of the bourgeoisie.
To help expose the PQ we will accentuate criticism of its reformist program and its pseudo-progressive nature and show the masses that it does not offer any solution to their fundamental problems. We will wage a firm struggle against the class collaborationist projects of the PQ and the union leadership, showing the masses that the only correct alternative Is the struggle class against class for our immediate demands and the fight for socialism to get rid of exploitation.
In English Canada, we will have to wage the struggle against big-nation chauvinism and explain why the unity of the proletariat must be built on the basis of the recognition of the oppressed nation’s right to self-determination up to and including separation. We will have to double our efforts In the area of immediate struggles in order to counter the English-Canadian chauvinist call for “national unity” and constantly advance the idea of class struggle and the revolutionary fight for socialism.
The unstable political conditions In which we find ourselves mean that we will have to double our efforts in the struggle to build a Canada-wide Marxist-Leninist communist party. The Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement must strive to spread throughout the country, and not remain only where it is presently strong. To accomplish this, the Marxist-Leninist movement will have to integrate the national question into its day-to-day work and maintain an attitude based on correct principles while developing flexible tactics which will answer to the different conditions of communist work in English Canada and in Quebec.
The proletariat urgently needs a vanguard organization, a general staff which will cement the unity of workers of both nations and will guide the proletariat through the difficult and twisting road leading to the revolution.
On the eve of the great political struggles which we can expect in our country, we must muster all our determination to accomplish our principal task.