Unite, mobilize, and reverse the attack!
The adoption of Law 78, May 18, 2012 by the corrupt and reactionary
government of Jean Charest (with the support of the ultra-right party,
Coalition Avenir Québec or CAQ), will go down in Canada and Quebec`s
history as one of the most serious attacks against civil liberties,
fundamental rights and democracy in general.
The attack in Quebec on freedom of speech, assembly, and the right to
organize threatens the people across Canada.
We call on labor, students, popular movements and all
democratic-minded people of Quebec and English-speaking Canada to
unite and fight for the preservation of our democratic rights and
against the law 78. A unified and coordinated resistance is the only
effective way for the people of Quebec to repeal the Act and to make a
break away from the policies of austerity, privatization and higher
fees. We call to intensify mobilization efforts to organize a general
strike in Quebec.
An anti-democratic law
The President of the Bar Quebec Association, Louis Masson, has said
"that this bill, if passed, constitutes a violation of the
constitutional and fundamental rights of citizens. The extent of these
limitations to fundamental freedoms is not justified to achieve the
objectives of the government. "
The amendments made by the CAQ in no way diminish these concerns. In
particular, the law:
* seriously limits the right of association, the right to demonstrate
and freedom of expression,
* requires organizers of events with 50 or more people to reveal to
police the route and mode of transport at least eight hours before
* gives police the authority to unilaterally order demonstrator to
their route or location;
* imposes financial sanctions so severe that they threaten the
continued existence of student unions and employee associations on
* demands student associations and employee to take steps to ensure
that their members comply with the law;
* imposes a reverse onus of proof on the employee associations in
which a member would be charged with offense;
* while the explicit notion of encouragement has been removed, the
law still states that anyone who helps or induces another person to
commit an offense under the Act is liable to the penalties provided.
The example of Switzerland
During a government press conference Robert Dutil, Quebec Minister of
Public Security, raised that Quebec would be neither worse nor better
than other countries in Europe or US States that also, he claimed,
limit the right to protest in the same way. He mentioned in particular
the case of Switzerland. It seems that the Charest government has been
greatly inspired by a law passed in April 2012 by the canton of
Geneva, which limits the right to protest similarly to Law 78.
The Swiss law was an initiative of the extreme right. Its progressive
opponents are currently challenging the law in federal court because
it is contrary to the constitution and to international treaties.
Minister Dutil did not mention that the UN Special Rapporteur on the
Rights of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Maina Kiai, has made
serious proposals for amendments to the Geneva law. Kiai, whose
position is connected with the Council for Human Rights, said the
Swiss law would "unduly restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful
assembly and expression, which are the essence of democracy," and that
"the exercise of fundamental freedoms should not be subject to prior
The right to protest is a fundamental democratic right. However, a
fundamental right subject to an authorization is no longer a
fundamental right. The exercise of the fundamental right to
demonstrate must be to do without any prior authorization. We call on
the people to continue to exercise their right to protest with or
The student strike, fighting is popular
What began as a campaign for access to education by the student (s)
has therefore become a broad popular struggle against cuts,
privatization and austerity measures. Now it is a battle for the right
to organize, freedom of association, and for democracy itself.
In fact, the student movement is currently in the forefront of popular
struggle that grows in a widespread political and social crisis. This
is why the bourgeoisie wants to crush it at once. The stakes are high:
a defeat of the student movement would be a setback to all progressive
forces, in Quebec and Canada, while a victory for the students would
That is why the labor movement has a duty to become directly involved
in the fight.
Helping the monopoly corporations
Law 78 also fits with Charest's election strategy, so much so that it
could be titled "An Act to support the Liberal campaign." Charest not
only intends to get political mileage from the student struggle by
presenting themselves as the party of Law and Order, but he also wants
to curb any protests during his election campaign.
The stubbornness of the Charest Liberals is entirely responsible for
This obstinacy is the consequence of their total loyalty to the ruling
class, the big capitalist monopolies which are increasingly worried
about the development of the popular struggle that has shook the
By refusing to seriously negotiate with the student movement and
instead deploying violent paramilitary police on demonstrators,
anti-democratic court orders, and now adopting this reactionary and
provocative law, the Charest Liberals have again demonstrated arrogant
contempt for the youth, educators, unions, and all the people of
At each stage of this struggle, the class nature of the claims of
youth, student (s) and workers have become clearer. Similarly, the
fight has exposed the limitations of democracy in a capitalist system.
According to the Liberal Party of Jean Charest, democracy is limited
to voting in elections every four years. Now, between elections it
seems, we have a dictatorship of the 1 percent where it is almost
needless to consult or accommodate popular demands.
In a democracy according to Charest, rights are increasingly reduced
to only those who can afford them, such as the right to use private
health services, or as the right to education, which becomes the
individual right to attend paid courses. The corporations can ignore
worker`s rights or pollute a river for a tiny penalty but when the
people resist, the government tries to fine them out of existence.
The crisis of the capitalist system
The crisis in Quebec is also a reflection of the general and systemic
economic crisis of capitalism as a whole. This crisis takes the form
of an attack against the democratic rights coupled with the increasing
militarization and war.
The Harper Conservative government federally has wasted hundreds of
millions of dollars to bomb Libya, to keep the Canadian military in
Afghanistan, and to increase military spending and prisons, all at the
expense of social programs.
One bomber F-35 could pay for rising tuition Charest.
The Harper Conservatives have attacked also the right to strike by
imposing a return to work for Air Canada and Canada Post. They also
deliberately manipulated the electoral and parliamentary processes
Last March, BC elementary and high school teachers had their right to
collective bargain and strike violated. The fierce repression at the
G20 summit in Toronto in 2010 led to over a thousand arrests, while
the Occupy movement was rough-handed and evicted last fall.
As the Central Committee of the Communist Party said in spring 2010,
the reason behind this class repression is the same: to stifle the
democratic aspirations of the masses, weaken the struggle of the
working class and democratic rights to silence and, if necessary,
crush anti-capitalist dissent .
The seeds of fascism
True democracy is actually an anathema to capitalist domination (and
vice versa) because, as the systemic crisis deepens and expands the
class struggle, the ruling class does not hesitate to use all means at
its disposal to maintain its hegemony, even removing the democratic
rights that generally tolerates under bourgeois democracy.
Bill 78 must be fought not only by the people of Quebec, but by all
democratic Canadians, because it plants the seeds of fascism.
Chants on the street have compaired Law 73 with the War Measures Act
or the Padlock Law of Duplessis. The Padlock law began as an attack on
the Communist Party in Quebec and rapidly expanded to almost any
labour or progressive group. The law was brought into force in 1937
and it took twenty years before the Federal Supreme Court struck it
By that time the government had created a list of called
PROFUNC.PROFUNC was used by the police and military in 1970 to help
round up "suspects" after the declaration of the War Measures Act.
To overcome the law and 78 to win the battle against the people of
Quebec austerity measures must not, therefore, be limited to a legal
battle or hope for a change in government elections. The best approach
for working people and youth, against the big business and its
government power, is above all united action and mass mobilization.
An election will also take place, sooner or later, and will bring
together parties which voted against Bill 78 and, at the same time,
opposed other progressive demands. For example, although it is
wearing the red square today, Pauline Marois says it is necessary to
increase tuition, but at a slower pace.
The best vehicle for the hope of the students and peoples is,
currently, Quebec solidaire. Notably, Quebec solidaire calls for free
education, a longstanding demand of the Communist Party and Young
Communist League. Blocking the right, defeating the Liberals, and
electing a government of Quebec solidaire is an important part of the
Call for solidarity
In the context of Bill 78 the Quebec students have called out for
solidarity and material support from across Canada.
Bill 78 comes on top of already harsh repression. As of May 18th
there have been 472 criminal accusations and 1047 ticket and penal
offenses in the strike. One week in April saw over 600 arrests in
three days (not mentioning the thousands who have been pepper sprayed
and tear gassed, clubbed and beaten, detained and released). Victims
of the strike include Francis Grenier, lost the use of most of an eye
when a sound grenade was illegally thrown by a police officer into his
eye; Maxence Valade who lost a full eye from a rubber bullet; and
Alexandre Allard who was in a coma on a hospital bed for several days
from a rubber bullet to the head. Four students are currently being
charged under provisions of the anti-terrorist laws enacted following
September 11th while Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson of CLASSE,
will appear in Superior Court for having dared say that "I find it
legitimate" that students form picket lines to defend their strike.
On the other hand, Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair's opportunist
decision to say nothing about the principles behind this dramatic,
massive struggle is a serious betrayal of the student protesters.
Mulcair said the tuition hike "is first and foremost a matter of
provincial jurisdiction... Our fight is not with the Charest government...
Violence is not the right way to do things." All these statements were
helpful to the Charest government and while isolating the students
from the solidarity of popular organizations who follow the lead of
We call for labour, student, community and progressive organizations
to send messages of support to the Quebec students, and for emergency
solidarity actions to be held across the county to break the silence
in English-speaking Canada about this incredible people's movement!
For a Charter of Youth Rights!
Bill 78 is also a direct attack on the rights of youth. Instead, we
demand a Charter that defends their right to accessible education;
good quality and safe union employment, democracy; peace; leisure and
democratic culture; justice for Aboriginal youth and Quebec; and full
equality. The Charter of youth would be legislation with teeth,
preventing further erosion of our rights on all levels.
In Quebec, forward for a general strike
United mass mobilization must continue to grow with the labor movement
fully involved. It is now time to start organizing a general strike,
social and political! The coming months of summer and fall will be a
crucial period to further expand the struggle and mobilization. This
is why the Communist Party calls for the organization of general
states of worker movements, and popular students to be prepared to
increase the response early in the fall.
Ligue de la jeunesse communiste du Québec
Young Communist League of Canada