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Vol. 77/No. 40      November 11, 2013

Oppose Charter of Quebec Values,
Montreal socialist candidates say
MONTREAL — “He calls for a large increase in the minimum wage and says he is opposed to the Charter of Quebec Values as well as military interventions by the American army” in Syria and elsewhere, the Montreal daily La Presse wrote about Joseph Young, Communist League candidate for mayor of Montreal in an Oct. 5 article profiling the 12 mayoral candidates in the Nov. 3 election.

“‘The candidates of the Communist League are in solidarity with the millions of Syrian workers who have been mobilizing for two and a half years against the attacks of the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime,’” said the paper, the largest French-language daily in Montreal, quoting Young.

Young, a 66-year-old factory worker, is campaigning with Katherine LeRougetel, a 55-year-old food processing worker, who is the Communist League candidate for mayor of the borough of Verdun.

On Oct. 11, Young spoke to about 50 people at the Megaphone, a free-speech installation at a busy downtown corner, along with nine of the other mayoral candidates.

“Malcolm X, a revolutionary in the U.S. in the 1960s said something I agree with. Working people need to wake up to our own worth,” Young told Radio-Canada moderator Michel Désaultels, “to see ourselves as actors and not just the objects of history. It is through struggle that we can transform ourselves and fight for revolutionary change.”

LeRougetel joined Silicium Bécancour workers on their picket line Oct. 13, 90 miles east of Montreal. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union Local 184 members were locked out May 3 after rejecting a concessions contract demanded by the bosses.

Sylvain Desrosiers and Dominic Doyon told the socialist candidate that some family members say that they get good wages and benefits and should stop complaining and picketing.

“That’s why unions need to fight for pensions that aren’t tied to their employer, but for retirement pensions for everyone,” LeRougetel said. “That’s what our class needs, and such a union-led fight would draw in workers from everywhere, as opposed to making unions appear as groups that only fight to defend a privileged few.”

LeRougetel also told the locked-out workers that the Communist League campaign opposes the proposed Charter of Quebec Values, which would ban Quebec’s 700,000 government workers from wearing “ostentatious” religious symbols like the Muslim hijab, Sikh turban, or Jewish kippah.

“The government is cynically appealing to the nationalist sentiments of the Quebecois in order to use the charter to divide working people, to weaken their ability to unite to defend themselves in face of the attacks by the propertied rulers as the economic crisis of their system deepens,” she said.

“I am against big government interfering in our private lives, telling us what we can and cannot wear,” LeRougetel added.

“You said you are for less government interference in our lives,” Jean-Sebastien Thériault commented. “But you are a Communist League candidate. Isn’t what you said the opposite of communism?”

“Not at all,” LeRougetel said. She pointed to the example of the revolutionary process in Cuba, where Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement fought to reduce the weight of government bureaucracy. Instead they fought to unleash and mobilize the workers and peasants, who have been transformed through the process of making their revolution, to take on the challenges before them — from a massive literacy drive to building needed housing through voluntary labor.

On Oct. 20, LeRougetel and supporters of the Communist League campaign participated in a demonstration of several hundred organized by a Coalition Against the Xenophobic Charter of Quebec Values. A brief interview with her on why her campaign had joined the protest was run on TVA television.

The next morning LeRougetel was approached by a number of co-workers who stopped to say they agreed with what she said. “Thank you,” one said, “and I’m not saying this because I’m Arab — What you said was right.”

Beverly Bernardo contributed to this article.
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Vote Socialist Workers Party!
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‘Only working class can protect life and limb on the job’
Socialist Workers Party candidates in US and Communist League in Canada
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