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Yesterday, the National Coordination Committee of Quebec solidaire issued a statement in response to the "Call for a united front" in the next election in Quebec, saying it is open to a "limited and timely electoral arrangement" with two other pro-Quebec sovereignty parties.
The Call has received close to 11,000 signatures online. It urges the three pro-sovereignty parties- Parti québécois, Québec solidaire and Option nationale - to enter into an electoral agreement such that only one candidate of the parties would contest electoral districts against the ruling Liberal Party and the right-wing Coalition pour l'avenir du Québec (CAQ).
The full text of the Québec solidaire (QS) statement is available here (in French). It sets two conditions that a government elected under the agreement must act upon:
1. A system of proportional electoral representation to be instituted by the government that would issue from the electoral agreement.
2. Legislation on the following issues:
-Abolition of Law 78 and amnesty for anyone facing legal sanction under the law.
-Abolition of the Liberal government hike in university tuition fees.
-Abolition of the Health Tax, except for high income earners, who will pay a tax on an income-graduated scale. (In 2010, the Liberal government introduced an annual fee for public health care services that sits at $200 as of 2012. The fee applies to all except those on very low incomes.)
-Reform of Quebec's mining law that would place strict financial, environmental and other regulations on the operations of mining companies, including increases to royalties (tax on earnings). (Quebec has the lowest mining royalties in Canada.)
QS says it accepts the proposal in the Call for union leader Réjean Parent to act as a mediator in discussions among the three parties. He is the president of the CSQ, the third largest union central in Quebec and whose largest component consists of teachers.
The QS statement restates the harsh assessment of the record of the Parti québécois in government that was spelled out in an open letter by party co-leaders Francoise David and Amir Khadir in the Quebec daily Le Devoir on June 14. The PQ has governed Quebec for 18 of the past 35 years.
The statement explains, "Despite the adoption of some progressive social policies, the Parti québécois governments disappointed us profoundly on so many levels: special anti-worker laws, tax reductions favouring the wealthy, impoverishment of people on welfare, massive cuts to health and education spending, departure from the party's own energy policy, refusal to put a new, proportional electoral system in place...so many disappointments for the large number of sovereignists who want a Quebec of green and social solidarity principles."
In a related story, the Québec solidaire association in the electoral district of Nicolet-Bécancour has decided it will not present a candidate in the next provincial election should the decision by Option nationale to stand down in the district of Gouin be confirmed. Option nationale is presenting its leader, Jean-Martin Aussant, in the former district, while QS is presenting co-leader Françoise David in the latter.
Option nationale is a small, pro-sovereignty party founded in February of this year. Jean-Martin Aussant is a member of the National Assembly of Quebec. He was elected in 2008 as a candidate of the Parti québécois.
Roger Annis is a writer, social justice activist and retired aerospace worker in Vancouver.