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Quebec Women Join the Battle

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The Fédération des femmes du Québec, our biggest coalition of women's organizations, is calling to defeat Stephen Harper. ‘We are non-partisan' says the FFQ in its latest communiqué, ‘but women need to defeat Harper and oppose conservative policies'. Michèle Asselin, the President of the FFQ, says Harper is destroying some of the gains achieved by the women's movement in the past period. ‘He is the one who has abolished the national daycare program. Indeed, Harper brought down Canada to the lowest level of all OCDE countries in educational programs for pre-schoolers.' In addition she reminds us, Harper has abolished the funding provided for judicial contestation that allowed women to seek justice in terms of non-respect of gender equality. One of the main points of confrontation for Quebec women is also bill C-484, now put aside by Harper because of the backlash against it, but that was intended originally to re-criminalize abortion. That issue is not going to go away, says Asselin: ‘118 of the 122 Conservative MPs voted in favor of that bill. It is to close to the heart of the neoconservatives'. To add insult to injury, Harper has slashed the Status of women program originally created to support women's organizations. Since Harper took over, 12 of the 16 offices of the Status of women program have been shut down. ‘Today says Asselin, women are still at the bottom of the social scale, earning less income, working in more precarious and part-time jobs. In the meantime, and family violence is on the rise'. ‘Our rights as women are threatened with Stephen Harper, concludes Michèle Asselin.

Parallel to the FFQ, the Quebec Native Women Association has come out with a statement also arguing for NBH. The same issues are at play, including family violence within native communities, on the rise during the last 2 years. In the meantime, Lawrence Cannon, Conservative MP for Pontiac (western Quebec), Minister of transport and one of the ‘big shots' of Harper is Quebec, is under fire by the Algonquin community of Lac Barrière (part of Pontiac), who bitterly condemn the interference of Indian Affairs in their own political process. They have occupied Cannon's offices near their community and have asked, without success, to meet the Minister. Cannon's main spin replied to the Algonquin that he would meet ‘only if they would behave and not drink'. Cannon had to say later that he was sorry for this racist remark.

In the latest poll, the Bloc is on the rise riding a wave of ABH expressions across the province and lead the voting intentions by almost 10%. Will that be enough? Harper is really counting on the division of the vote between the Liberals and the NDP on the one side, and the Bloc on the other side.

One invisible but important development is linked to different processes underway by youth networks who are calling the large group of under 25 years that do not vote. They are sometimes referring to what happened in Spain in March 2004. There, the right wing was predicted to win the election big time against the Socialist opposition. But a few days before the elections, terrorist attacks occurred and led the rightwing government to accuse Basque nationalists, hoping to turn the anger of public opinion in their favor. Many people, including the youth, founded out it was an outright lie. They went on the MNS and their emails and mobilized, unexpectedly, hundreds of thousands of young voters, calling them to vote against the rightwing. On D-day, the Socialists won because of that ‘supplementary' vote. It's only a dream here, but what if?!?

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