Canada's left needs federal and provincial parties like Quebec Solidaire

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Jacob Richter
Canada's left needs federal and provincial parties like Quebec Solidaire

Canada's left needs federal and provincial parties like Quebec Solidaire... and, surprise, surprise, it's not the NDP.

Last night's results for QS were not just a breakthrough, but an inspiration for what can be done by those to the left of the NDP.  I may not agree with their sovereigntist agenda, but when the NDP is to the right of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and even Bernie Sanders, there's a real problem.

Sean in Ottawa

Jacob Richter wrote:

Canada's left needs federal and provincial parties like Quebec Solidaire... and, surprise, surprise, it's not the NDP.

Last night's results for QS were not just a breakthrough, but an inspiration for what can be done by those to the left of the NDP.  I may not agree with their sovereigntist agenda, but when the NDP is to the right of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and even Bernie Sanders, there's a real problem.

The problem here is that any further fracturing of the non Conservative vote is liable to leave them in power indefinitely.

I would say that a prerequisite for an inclusive conversation in Canadian politics must be some kind of proportional representation. With that then we ought to have more parties bringing more ideas to the table.

Many will argue that it is messy. Democracy is messy. It is always cleaner to restrict ideas as much as possible -- you can get to the point of an authoritarian state that does not allow any discussion. But if you want a real flow of ideas, First Past the Post does not allow it to happen without gross distortions of what the public actually intends in elections.

It is one thing to claim that those on the left in Canada are timid or gutless but it is more difficult to admit that the structure of our political system is intentionally silencing of minority views such that as a practical matter, if you want to get anywhere in terms of achievements in power, you have to give up these ideas.

I am not sure that QS is such a great example, we may well watch it merge with the PQ for practical financial reasons as it recognizes that it has a low ceiling well below being able to reach power.

Another prerequisite, I could argue, is an informed and educated, involved populace. I don't know how to achieve that.

But sure it is great to feel good about any break through -- but one where a party got a lot of attention, many votes and still could not reach party status, and going forward is crippled when it comes to financial ability to compete, is not going to be my choice of celebration.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Jacob Richter wrote:

Canada's left needs federal and provincial parties like Quebec Solidaire... and, surprise, surprise, it's not the NDP.

Last night's results for QS were not just a breakthrough, but an inspiration for what can be done by those to the left of the NDP.  I may not agree with their sovereigntist agenda, but when the NDP is to the right of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and even Bernie Sanders, there's a real problem.

The problem here is that any further fracturing of the non Conservative vote is liable to leave them in power indefinitely.

I would say that a prerequisite for an inclusive conversation in Canadian politics must be some kind of proportional representation. With that then we ought to have more parties bringing more ideas to the table.

Many will argue that it is messy. Democracy is messy. It is always cleaner to restrict ideas as much as possible -- you can get to the point of an authoritarian state that does not allow any discussion. But if you want a real flow of ideas, First Past the Post does not allow it to happen without gross distortions of what the public actually intends in elections.

It is one thing to claim that those on the left in Canada are timid or gutless but it is more difficult to admit that the structure of our political system is intentionally silencing of minority views such that as a practical matter, if you want to get anywhere in terms of achievements in power, you have to give up these ideas.

I am not sure that QS is such a great example, we may well watch it merge with the PQ for practical financial reasons as it recognizes that it has a low ceiling well below being able to reach power.

Another prerequisite, I could argue, is an informed and educated, involved populace. I don't know how to achieve that.

But sure it is great to feel good about any break through -- but one where a party got a lot of attention, many votes and still could not reach party status, and going forward is crippled when it comes to financial ability to compete, is not going to be my choice of celebration.

If there was going to be a merger, it would be most or at least part of the PQ merging with QS.  It would be absurd for QS to just disappear into the party it has probably consigned to the electoral boneyard.  "We made massive gaines from you, so now we're going to join you and take orders from you" is a strategy that would make no sense at all for QS, and it would alienate most of QS' voters.

QS is on the rise...the PQ "brand" is now damaged beyond repair.

lagatta4

Yes, I'd be very happy to pick up Jean-Martin Aussant and Véronique Hivon - Aussant was hesitating between the PQ and QS, and Hivon is simply far more forthright and not comfortable with red-baiting or nativism, as compared to Lisée. Yes, of course there are Marxists in QS; I'm a Marxist of sorts but as an ecosocialist, and socialist feminist, have many other historical influences that are just as important. In that sense, there were most certainly Marxists in the early PQ - as well as liberation theologists. Other than the wilful confusion of the ideas of Marx and Engels with Stalinist dictatorship, their baits also wilfully overlook the fact that there are more radical and more moderate elements in all parties of a certain importance. I'm sure there are La Meute types in the PQ and even farther right elements in the ranks of the CACA, of both the identitaire and Randian types, as well as outright fascists. And some very far-right elements in the Liberal party including angryphones as well as those committed to deepening social and economic inequalities.

Not even a deep and extended study of history, political science or social anthropology enables us to predict the future with any certainty; Marx did teach us that history is full of irony, twists and turns.  But I do consider the eventuality of QS joining the PQ most unlikely; I think the more leftwing elements still in the PQ would join or vote QS (though most of these are old trade unionists, and many of them retired) and the more rightwing the CAQ, except for a rump group that might form a new version of the Parti indépendantiste.

As for "not the NDP", isn't the most likely scenario a new version of the Waffle, as well as other, independent movements?

Unionist

The other similar thread is in imminent danger of being diverted, so I thought I'd repost this article here:

Possibly coming to a province near you: Manon Masse and Quebec's 'revolutionary' party

Quote:

Quebec solidaire is a sovereigntist party, but only as a way to make Quebec more socially just — free of what Masse calls the "petro-state known as Canada."

Masse is unafraid of calling herself a revolutionary and advocating for socialist policies that would "transform society." But she stands out for her looks as well as her ideas. She proudly wears a silver moustache, a feature that is played up in some of the party's election posters.

A mother of two and a lesbian, Masse described in her recent book being rejected by her mother because of her sexual orientation. That experience helped spark her desire to fight for equality, she said.

Masse predicts other provinces could soon see parties similar to Quebec solidaire.

"It's clear in the rest of Canada there are an enormous number of progressives," she said. "In the movement for people's rights, the union movement, the environmental movement ... people who want to ensure a better life for everyone.

"I think there is space for a Quebec solidaire outside Quebec."

I agree. And even though I'm a member of QS, I think we all need to know more about how it works.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I keep hoping that a Red/Green party will arise but I am to old to lead a mass movement. In BC the NDP has been captured by the petroligarchy and the Greens have no class consciousness. We need a party that will fight for the planet and fight for our underclass of marginalized, both workers and those that are not able to. The BC NDP is going ahead with Site C and LFG development and it will phase in an increase in minimum wages that shows that they haven't a clue about poverty level wages. I would love to duct tape together a coalition.

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I keep hoping that a Red/Green party will arise but I am to old to lead a mass movement. In BC the NDP has been captured by the petroligarchy and the Greens have no class consciousness. We need a party that will fight for the planet and fight for our underclass of marginalized, both workers and those that are not able to. The BC NDP is going ahead with Site C and LFG development and it will phase in an increase in minimum wages that shows that they haven't a clue about poverty level wages. I would love to duct tape together a coalition.

Such a party could be the sustainability party. This is largely what it seems to be about. The NDP often professes social sustainability and forgets the environment while the Greens imagine that you can have environmental sustainability without social sustainability.

I know I keep coming back to the same theme but social inequity and environmental degradation are directly related. I am now in the position that I would vote for just about anyone who admits the connection. It seems too many think we can have progress on one while ignoring the other.

I see your red-green party idea as exactly what is needed.

(The federal NDP at times seem to want to go there.)

6079_Smith_W

I think it is great that they saw success in this election. I wouldn't assume there is any kind of magic formula though, in Quebec, or for anywhere else in the country. 

So yes, it should be an inspiration, but I don't see it a message that we have to to set up QS franchises, but rather to keep focused on the work many have been doing all along. If there really is a need for movements in other provinces to form other parties, I think that will be come clear in its own time too.

Sean in Ottawa

I think the message from QS is that it is good to stand for something. Too many parties really just share a little rhetoric but don't engage in trying to change lives. I see QS as wanting to make a meaningful difference. This may encourage others to have the courage to really present substantial change.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Here's what I wrote in Ken Burch's thread on replacing the NDP:

I would love to see a more QS type party emerge, either at the national or provincial level (my home province is BC).

The provincial level here in BC has greater prospects for the emergence of a QS type party at the moment. The provincial government is holding another referendum on proportional representation, this one by mail-in ballot, with ballots being mailed out later this month. If the referendum passes and we get proportional representation, opportunities to create a QS type party will increase.

Unfortunately, the BC NDP government has not been doing nearly enough to promote the referendum -- they wouldn't dare engage in the kinds of activist rallies and street theatre that could give it publicity -- and the corporate media has been completely ignoring it. Not to mention that much of the activist left that would form a natural support base for the Yes side in the referendum has been preoccupied with the upcoming municipal elections on October 20 -- working to elect candidates who will actually do something to alleviate the serious housing crisis in the Metro Vancouver part of the province.

 

lagatta4

Yes, in Vancouver social housing is necessary, and not only for homeless or marginal people (though of course they are the worst off in terms of housing, health and everything else). Working people need social housing there - it is impossible to afford housing on low-paid work, even if it is a few dollars an hour over the minimum wage.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Vancvouver's housing is crazy. That town has been mega gentrified.I think a tent attached to an outhouse will cost you a cool million in Vancouver's housing market. They have a major housing problem.

Montreal's housing situation isn't as bad but minimum wage jobs can't cut it. You're looking at 80% of your income just on rent. Never mind social assistance. Funny thing is there are a lot of  social housing units sitting vacant. Why they are not filled with a tenate (s) makes no sense to me. I think there's an idea of waitimg until all units are empty at any of these buildings to be sold to a private enterprise which will turn them into condos (that's my personal conspiracy theory)

What SHOULD happen in our major cities is a law that stipulates that for every 2 condos built 1 affordable housing unit has to be built,

How we can do it? Is by enticing appartment projects that the property taxes will rise on condos and the government will waive all property taxes for the affordable housing buildings. Then these rich real estate owners will get their precious profit.

That might get something done.

Pondering

QS has 16% so less than the NDP so I don't think being more like QS would deliver better results at the voting booth. 

A party can mix activism and politics, and remain true to its principles. Nevertheless they have to be one or the other first. 

voice of the damned

Pondering wrote:

QS has 16% so less than the NDP so I don't think being more like QS would deliver better results at the voting booth. 

Yes, people are getting a bit ahead of the game in talking about QS as a model for success. Relative to how they were doing before, they're now doing pretty well, and there is a certain psychological milestone in besting the PQ's seat count.

But the fact remains that they're a third-party,  with less support than the federal NDP got in 2015, and less popular-vote even than the now-widely mocked PQ.  They might be a model for other marignal parties seeking to leap ahead; not so much for parties that are already doing better than them.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

People are mistaken to think that housing on the West Coast is a Vancouver issue. It is a major issue in every coastal community.

In BC the NDP is going ahead with an LFG plant while the Greens complain the BC Liberals' are for it. The NDP can't pass a significant minimum wage increase because the Greens are more interested in protecting small business owners in the "green" sector and would vote with the BC Liberals.

I am hopeful that a if we get PR we can get a new party. However the NDP cabal at the Burnaby headquarters has always resisted PR even if they ran on it this time.

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

People are mistaken to think that housing on the West Coast is a Vancouver issue. It is a major issue in every coastal community.

In BC the NDP is going ahead with an LFG plant while the Greens complain the BC Liberals' are for it. The NDP can't pass a significant minimum wage increase because the Greens are more interested in protecting small business owners in the "green" sector and would vote with the BC Liberals.

I am hopeful that a if we get PR we can get a new party. However the NDP cabal at the Burnaby headquarters has always resisted PR even if they ran on it this time.

While it may be a crisis in BC, it is an issue across the country. The places where it is not leading to skyrocketing housing there are low wages so affordability is an issue (if not at Vancouver levels).

I have wondered if a cabon tax might be a good replacement for most property taxes. Having cities be sustained on effectively a tax on housing, an over priced essential, is not sensible. Many people do not realize how much property taxes are in residential rents.

I can imagine a better situation where property taxes for business are left in place; residential apartment buildings no longer taxed (only the business profit from them). Most long-term residential property tax is eliminated in favour of a carbon tax and a wealth tax and a short term rental tax (properties dedicated to air b&b type occupancy). The wealth tax, when it comes to property would be based on local rates so that a high Vancouver value property would not be taxed at the equivalent rate as a luxury estate in St. John NB. Flexability ought to be allowed to cities locally to produce their best tax systems to deal with their needs, but as beneficiaries of a carbon tax they would not be reliant on housing for the bulk of their revenues.

A modern city does not look like it did 150 years ago. Being taxed on the same basis as they were then is not sensible.

Another issue is the one dealing with transit -- but I have spoken on that a few times recently.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

voice of the damned wrote:

Pondering wrote:

QS has 16% so less than the NDP so I don't think being more like QS would deliver better results at the voting booth. 

Yes, people are getting a bit ahead of the game in talking about QS as a model for success. Relative to how they were doing before, they're now doing pretty well, and there is a certain psychological milestone in besting the PQ's seat count.

But the fact remains that they're a third-party,  with less support than the federal NDP got in 2015, and less popular-vote even than the now-widely mocked PQ.  They might be a model for other marignal parties seeking to leap ahead; not so much for parties that are already doing better than them.

The 16% is relative...it's after only a handful of elections.  Also, they finished just BARELY behind the PQ this time-since the PQ's structural integrity has been severely weakened this time, it's unlikely that party will recover or even hold its current support at the next election.  Once the PQ has finished collapsing that open the space for a socialism or social democracy-first politics in Quebec-QS was working this time to break down the PQ vote; next time, with the PQ not a factor, it will probably be open to other models.  I think we'll see it move to something like neutrality-the best way to make that happen is to get off QS' case about it for awhile.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

What the Quebec result shows is that a party of conviction can gain support...that it's not necessary for left-of-center parties to present themselves as bland and "respectable" to pull a respectable vote share, especially since those parties centering blandness and "respectability"-PQ in Quebec, the NDP federally and in most provincial sections-are stagnating if not slowly dying at the polls.

A left-of-center party can't be exactly like a social movement, but it can't prosper any more by simply presenting itself as the champion of slightly humanizing the status quo, so long as the slight humanization doesn't in any way annoy the wealthy.  If you've focused on appeasing Bay Street/Wall Street, you've given up on doing anything that makes any real difference, anything that represents any meaningful change, anything anyone will even NOTICE.  And if it's not even noticeable that you're leading a left-of-center government...what the hell is the point?  Why bother?  Nothing unnoticeable can be of any value.

pietro_bcc

Pondering wrote:

QS has 16% so less than the NDP so I don't think being more like QS would deliver better results at the voting booth. 

A party can mix activism and politics, and remain true to its principles. Nevertheless they have to be one or the other first. 

QS more than doubled its vote share and seat count in the last election, while the federal NDP lost a third of its support in the last election and is currently polling around the levels that QS achieved. The NDP should emulate a left wing party that is growing rather than their current strategy that is delivering stagnation.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The 16% is relative...it's after only a handful of elections.

Something about it must be "relative", because it's almost exactly the same number that, in another thread, you call a "useless, hopeless ... dead zone of support".

It's great that QS got more support this election, and increased their seat count dramatically, but we can't just extrapolate that line.  Remember when the NDP made massive and unexpected gains in QC?

cco

People love extrapolating lines, especially downward ones. There's something fundamentally inspiring, it seems, about the ability to declare something to be done for good.

By analogy: I've used Macs for basically my entire life, including in the early 90s when Apple seemed on the verge of going the way of the Commodore 64. At the time, I remember one (PC-using) IT pundit solemnly intoning that it was time for Apple to go out of business and return the money to its shareholders. That Apple would become the global behemoth it currently is wasn't on anyone's radar. Or, by way of a less pleasant analogy, after Hurricane Katrina I remember the pundits asking whether it was really worth it to rebuild New Orleans. Or the dozen times the Trump campaign was "all over but the shouting".

None of this is to say the NDP, or QS, are guaranteed to have future landslides, and I share the concern of many about the NDP's direction. But sometimes it really ain't over until it's over.

Pondering

pietro_bcc wrote:

Pondering wrote:

QS has 16% so less than the NDP so I don't think being more like QS would deliver better results at the voting booth. 

A party can mix activism and politics, and remain true to its principles. Nevertheless they have to be one or the other first. 

QS more than doubled its vote share and seat count in the last election, while the federal NDP lost a third of its support in the last election and is currently polling around the levels that QS achieved. The NDP should emulate a left wing party that is growing rather than their current strategy that is delivering stagnation.

 QS formed in 2006, CAQ formed in 2011. We won't know for a very long time but QS most likely hit their ceiling

I don't think parties on the left should move right, or centre or more left or be more like any other  party. I think they need to think about things they can easily achieve within a four year mandate that the majority of people will support.

Example, sliding scale traffic tickets. Anyone making 150K or lower would be paying what they pay now or less. That would be the 99% and it would generate revenue. Not only does it cost nothing it could generate more revenues to fund other progressive programs and it's more fair. 

In Quebec the Arts are heavily funded and universities get lots of government money too. I would require that a portion of that funding go towards developing programs like Tout le Monde at 2 or 3 levels of French directed specifically at non-francophones to invite them into French culture. I would want a sit-com style show about interactions between culture groups. On a current reality show 5 people have a turn cooking for the others who then mark them. At the end of the week one of them wins 100$ or something like that. Maybe it's 500$. Maybe a show about games in different cultures. 

My point is don't think about the other parties and where everyone is on the spectrum and all the important social justice movements to develop a platform. Think about the next 4 years and what can be delivered within that time frame that is difficult to attack and addresses concerns of the 99%.

QS does support nationalization of some industries using Hydro Quebec as an example which is a great platform item but everyone knows that would be a complicated thing to deliver on and would possibly take more than 4 years. 

Neoliberals win elections based on unearned credit for economic success and promises to lower taxes without cutting services much. Then they get elected and do as they please. 

The problem with the NDP is that after they win elections they seem to move farther right to prove themselves economically responsible. Either that or they sell out after winning, or they sold out long ago. 

QS has the far left independence votes in Quebec. There may be some stragglers in the PQ but not many. They also have some far left federalists. 

voice of the damned

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The 16% is relative...it's after only a handful of elections.

Something about it must be "relative", because it's almost exactly the same number that, in another thread, you call a "useless, hopeless ... dead zone of support".

It's great that QS got more support this election, and increased their seat count dramatically, but we can't just extrapolate that line.  Remember when the NDP made massive and unexpected gains in QC?

There are countless examples of parties skyrocketing their support, but with no long-term significance, much less anything that can be a model for other jurisdictions or levels of government. The Alberta NDP in 1986 went from two to 16 seats in the legistlature, sat as the official opposition, repeated the trick in 1989, got completely obliterated in 1993, and then fluxuated between two and four seats for the next two decades. (Yes, their eventual comeback was pretty amazing, but much too far removed in time to be regarded as having even a long-term connection to 1986.)

Of course, QS might start going from success to success from here on in, but at this point, it's way too early to start popping the champagne corks.  

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
While it may be a crisis in BC, it is an issue across the country. The places where it is not leading to skyrocketing housing there are low wages so affordability is an issue (if not at Vancouver levels).

How much more expensive is a house in Vancouver versus a house in, say, Peterborough?  Evidently, it's about four and a half times more expensive.

Does a person working in a job in Vancouver really earn 4.5 times what they'd make doing the same thing in Peterborough?  Conversely, would moving to Peterborough for an affordable house mean taking a nearly 80% cut in pay??