For a revolutionary and internationalist workers’ party in Canada

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The bourgeoisie menaces to drag humanity in its fall. In advanced capitalist countries, it even goes back on the conquests that the working class snatched after the 2nd World War. As all ruling classes of the world, the Canadian one splits over the attitude towards other classes (managers, traditional petty bourgeoisie, working class…) and it divides itself on its relation to other bourgeoisies (Great Britain, United States, European Union, China …). Moreover, it is more heterogeneous than most of its imperialist rivals because a section questions the Federal State (as in Spain, in Belgium or in Great Britain).

The big capital, which orients the policy of all bourgeois governments, accepted in 1949 the military alliance with the United States (NATO), then chose the opening of borders with the signature in 1992 of the North-American Free Trade Agreement, in 1994 of the agreements of the WTO, in 2016 of the Pacific Partnership, in 2016 also of the Global Economic and Commercial Agreement. The President of the United States refused in 2017 to ratify the Pacific Partnership, which proves that workers, neither in the United States nor in Canada, have to choose between protectionism and free trade, not more than between inflation and budget compression.

The political representation of the Canadian ruling class, although divided between the Parti Libéral/Liberal Party (PLC/LPC), the Parti Conservateur/Conservative Party (PCC/CPC) and the Parti Québécois (PQ), leads since the years 1980 a continued offensive against workers. All successive bourgeois governments reinforce the apparatus of repression: RCMP/GRC, municipal polices, SCIS/SCRS, Canadian Army/Armée Canadienne (3% of the budget of the Federal State) …

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Now, facing the bourgeois State, there does not exist a true workers’ party, that is, radically opposed to the whole of capitalists and working towards the emancipation of all workers. The traditional representation of waged workers, the New Democratic Party/Nouveau Parti Démocrate (NDP/NPD) is a party of the Labour type, a bourgeois workers’ party from its origin (1961). Its programme is bourgeois because it accepts capitalism since its foundation. Its ancestor CCF supported its imperialist bourgeoisie during the 2nd World War. The political bureaucracy that controls the NDP/NPD is linked to the trade union bureaucracies (foremost English-speaking ones); its unconditional defence of the Federal State on account of the majority section of exploiters has largely repelled the French-speaking exploited and divided the Canadian working class.

The trade union bureaucrats of the Canadian Labour Congress (CTC/CLC), of the Fédération des Travailleuses et Travailleurs du Québec (FTQ) and of the Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN) have in fact accompanied the social counter-offensive by multiplying concessions to bosses and to the bourgeois State.

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There is no more an internationalist Marxist organisation worthy of the name, inspired by the Paris Commune of 1871 and the October 1917 Revolution in Russia, as had been, at the end of the 1st World War, the Canadian section of the Communist International (Communist Party/Parti Communiste), then that of the 4th International (Workers Party of Canada, Socialist Workers League).

The opportunist leadership of the 4th International after the 2nd Worls War (Pablo, Mandel, Frank…) put in place by Cannon (the main leader of the US section SWP) encouraged adaptation of the Canadian section (RWP) to the Labour Party of that time (CCF). The liquidation of the 4th International in the years 1950-1960 and the regression of all its components towards nationalism and reformism ensured in Canada the survival of anarchism and Stalinism (PCR/RCP) and led to an unprecedented dispersal of “Trotskyism”. The Groupe Socialiste des Travailleurs (Lambertist FI) dissolved itself in 1987 in the NPD. La Riposte/Fightback (Grantist IMT), Alternative Socialiste/Socialist Alternative (Grantist CWI), International Socialists (Cliffite IST), Gauche Socialiste (Pabloite FI), the Ligue Communiste/Communist League (linked to the Castroite SWP of the United States) follow the lead of trade union bureaucracies, of the reformists of the New Democratic Party or have rallied Québec Solidaire. As for the Ligue Trotskyste/Trotskyist League (Robertsonist ICL) and the Parti de l’Égalité Socialiste/Socialist Equality Party (Healyite FI), they are bogged down in sectarianism.

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This discouraging scattering, accentuated by the disarray engendered in the working class by the restoration of capitalism in Russia and in China, will not be overcome by the search for a “least common denominator”, because it would lead to abandoning the programme (revisionism), which is precisely at the origin of this situation. The task is to gather on the basis of the international communist programme genuinely revolutionary activists, tendencies, fractions and groups, at the moment dispersed, by fighting firmly the various centrist or sectarian leaderships. There is indeed an urgent need for forming an organisation in the whole Canada that will be able to avoid both traps of opportunism and ultra-leftism.

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The pause in militarism initiated by Canadian imperialism after its participation to the Korean War against the Chinese revolution ended with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Today, one of the priorities for the proletariat is to impose the united front to the mass workers’ organisations (political parties and trade unions) against the military intervention (navy, air force, special forces) in Iraq and in Syria initiated by the government of Stephen Harper (Conservative Party), continued by the government of Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party), approved by the Bloc Québécois.

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Mexico, the United States and Canada result all from the brutal colonisation of North America operated from the 16th to the 18th century by the Spanish, French, Dutch and British monarchies to the detriment of indigenous populations. This process was an integral part of primitive capital accumulation. Every internationalist communist organisation must defend the rights of the native nations, oppressed and dispossessed since centuries. We defend their cultural autonomy, the preservation of their environment and their right to self-determination, even if in practice the latter can show itself difficult to realise, given the dispersal of native nations over the Canadian territory. We denounce their instrumental use by both Canadian chauvinists and Québécois nationalists. At the time of the last referendum on the sovereignty of Québec in 1995, the Canadian government tried to use the legitimate concerns of the native peoples with regards to the separation of Québec and their rights in a possibly independent Québec for the purpose of hindering the right to self-determination of the Québécois people. Canada was presented in a hypocritical and demagogic way as a “bulwark” for the rights of the First Nations! The Parti Québécois insisted on the territorial integrity of Québec following the secession, which did not leave much room for the self-determination of Natives. As for us, we consider the Canadian and Québécois bourgeoisies as being equally oppressors of the First Nations.

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The capitalist State of Canada was born from the failure of democratic revolutions of 1837-1838 waged by the English-speaking and French-speaking populations against the English monarchy. It has historically been imposed by force to the French-speaking minority. The Permanent Revolution Collective, in the tradition of the Communist International and of the 4th International, defends the right of Québec to self-determination, including to secession and forming an independent State if such is its will. Its advocates oppose resolutely any attempt by the Canadian capitalist Federal State to prevent the Québécois people from deciding its future and to keep Québec by force inside the confederation. The great nation chauvinism of English-speaking Canada, which is dominant inside the Canadian State and thus even more dangerous than the narrow nationalism of Québec, is a poison for the unity of the Canadian working class against English-speaking and French-speaking capitalists. The law on Referendum Clarity promulgated in 2000 by the liberal federal government of Jean Chrétien is a serious attack against the national rights of Québec, because it allows the federal government to meddle in the formulation of the referendum question and to determine the necessary majority for declaring the independence of Québec. Québec has historically been an oppressed nation and during decades many Québécois workers were compelled to work in English and were paid less than the English-speaking ones.

This national oppression has largely been surmounted since the “Quiet Revolution” of the years 1960 and the linguistic policies that made French the official language of Québec. The main victims of discrimination are migrant workers at a Federal scale. The Québécois suffer no more a systematic discrimination because of their language and the Québécois bourgeoisie has largely developed to the point of exporting capital in dominated countries. Nevertheless, the right to national self-determination of Québec is still contended by the Canadian government. That is why internationalist communists of the Permanent Revolution Collective in Canada defend this democratic and legitimate right, the only way to ensure the unity of the working class of all Canada, without for all that calling for the independence of Québec, because the latter does no more suffer a colonial domination. The Québécois nationalism must be contended in the same manner as English-Canadian chauvinism, because it aims at making the Québécois bourgeois the sole exploiters of “their” working class and sows illusions towards a mythical independent Québec that would be a “liberation” for the French-speaking Québécois proletariat. The geographically widest framework is favourable to the struggle of the working class but it must not be imposed. Our goal is not to multiply borders but to abolish them by the proletarian revolution.

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The potential danger hidden in Québécois nationalism is revealed by the emergence of “identity movements”. Since at least ten years a strong fascistic current developed inside Québécois nationalism in front of Muslim immigration. This current feeds on the rise of the French FN and of the European xenophobic movements that surf on Islamophobia. Islam is considered as a threat for the “Québécois values and identity”, as if all Québécois had the same values whatever their social class. This political current is completely reactionary, xenophobic and dangerous. It has led to the attack of January 2017 against a mosque that made 6 deaths and 8 wounded in Québec. It is a poison for the working class, because it undermines the necessary class solidarity with migrant workers whatever their religion and their ethnical origin and prepares violence against all workers’ organisations. In 2013-2014, the bourgeois nationalist PQ played the identity card by wanting to adopt a “Charter of secularism” also called Charter of Québécois values. The latter wanted to ban religious signs in public spaces, but specifically its target was the Islamic veil. The identity nationalists cynically and hypocritically made use of women’s rights to justify the stigmatisation of Islam perceived as being unilaterally misogynist. Internationalist Marxists reject resolutely this demagogical rhetoric that has nothing to do with any defence of women’s rights, but rather tries to divide, by designating Muslims as a scapegoat for the historical crisis of capitalism. At the same time, we oppose those who in English-speaking Canada use these drifts and slippages of part of Québécois nationalists to promote anti-Québécois chauvinism. Migrant workers, employees and jobless are part of the Canadian working class, as the Canadian working class is part of the world proletariat.

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The supporters of Permanent Revolution Collective call for the break by the labour movement of any link with the PQ because no section of the bourgeoisie deserves any support from workers and their organisations, including those that hide under “progressive” old clothes. In Québec, the labour movement is too often chained to the bourgeois nationalist Parti Québécois, by nationalism of course but also because the PQ is perceived as a kind of substitute of a social-democratic party that would have a “favourable prejudice towards workers”. The absence of a mass workers’ party explains largely the catastrophic impact of this class collaboration.

Québec Solidaire that presents itself as the “left” alternative to the PQ is a petty-bourgeois nationalist party. QS gets the support of some local trade unions such as the Central Council of the Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN) of metropolitan Montréal, but the national leaderships of the Québécois trade union confederations are very reticent to provide it their support, when they are not bluntly hostile. They often collaborate with the PQ and its twin on the Canadian federal scene the Bloc Québécois to promote, under the flag of independence of Québec, a national capitalism that would change nothing to exploitation. The tagging along of Québécois trade union bureaucrats towards bourgeois nationalists is a mortal trap for the working class and an extinguisher for class struggle. It is also a major obstacle for the class independence of the Québécois proletariat that finds itself chained to a mythical and mendacious “lesser evil”. In fact, that amounts to saying that Québécois workers must bind themselves to Québécois bosses rather than to their sisters and brothers of Canada. The most probable result of a separation would be aggravating the fate of workers, the reinforced economic dependence of Québec and of the rest of Canada, the reinforcement of French and US imperialisms.

The Québécois proletariat has a taste of it. The PQ, when it is in power, does not govern differently from the federalist Liberal Party. The two parties defend the same class interests, those of the bourgeoisie, and implement the same policies of austerity, privatisation and destruction of social conquests of the working class. Its goal is to create a new capitalist and imperialist French-speaking State in North America. It has strictly nothing to do with the interests of the working class. Today the Parti Québécois, in opposition in the National Assembly of Québec, attempts to give itself a new popularity by denouncing policies of budget cuts and social destruction of the liberal government of Philippe Couillard. It attempts to have people forget its own past of resolute defence of the interests of capital and of anti-workers attacks such as the repression of the teachers’ strike in 1983 or the nurses’ strike in 1999 as well as the loss of 15 000 jobs in the Québécois public sector in 1997.

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We have the duty to be actively involved in mass labour (CTC/CLC, FTQ…) and student unions despite and against their bureaucratic leadership. We can, if we do not have the strength to propose internationalist communist candidates to elections, be compelled to call to vote for those of a mass “reformist” party (bourgeois parliamentarist). We do not refuse, on principle, to intervene in such a party (against its bureaucracy agent of the bourgeoisie, against its bourgeois programme) or in a centrist organisation (against its inconsistent and cowardly leadership, against its petty-bourgeois programme). But, whatever the tactics of its construction, there is no substitute to a party of the Bolshevik type. A centrist party such as the USPD in Germany in 1918-1919, the POUM in Spain in 1936-1937 or the MIR in Chile in 1972-1973 cannot lead revolution to victory; the bourgeois workers’ parties of the type SPD in 1918-1919, PSOE and PCE in 1936-1937, PS and PCCh in 1972-1973 fight it and strangle it. Thus we do not support Québec Solidaire (contrarily to the Gauche Socialiste, La Riposte, Alternative Socialiste that submit in fact proletarians to the petty-bourgeoisie) and we do not call for forming a mass “reformist” party (contrarily to LR or AS because the proletariat does not need another bourgeois workers’ party).

We advocate the creation of class struggle fractions in trade unions, of democratic organs of struggle, of a revolutionary and internationalist mass workers’ party based on the teachings of Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky. This party will tie itself in its struggle to the working class and to the oppressed and will be able to unite democratic demands (among which the Republic, the separation of State and religion, the right to separation for Québec, the armament of the people, access to education in one’s language in the whole of Canada …) and transitional ones (among which the creation of people’s organs of the soviet type, the workers’ government, the opening of borders to workers and students, the self-defence of demonstrations and pickets, the shortening of work time and jobs for all …) in order to prepare openly the proletarian revolution.

Our aim is, by contributing to the construction of a revolutionary workers’ international, to gather the Canadian vanguard in an internationalist communist party, which is indispensable for overthrowing the bourgeoisie (French-speaking and English-speaking), for dismantling the bourgeois State (federal and Québécois), for establishing the power of workers’ councils (dictatorship of the proletariat) and the Socialist United States of America, for the transition to world socialism-communism.