Thursday, 18 December 2008
by Paul Kellogg from rabble.ca Amir Khadir, one of the two spokespersons for Québec solidaire (QS), has won a seat in the Quebec National Assembly. Among the many excellent aspects of the Québec Solidaire platform is a call for the Quebec government to pass a motion opposing "any Canadian imperialist intervention in Afghanistan." The QS success represents an important advance for the social justice and anti-war movements in both Quebec and English Canada. Khadir's victory was not just the victory of one individual. In his riding [parliamentary constituency seat] of Mercier, QS won 8861 votes, 38.06 per cent of votes cast, defeating Daniel Turp, a star candidate of the Parti Québécois (PQ) by 872 votes. But in the ridings surrounding Mercier, QS also did extremely well. In Gouin, the other co-spokesperson for QS, Françoise David, came a very close second to the PQ winning 7987 votes (31.95 per cent). QS was formed in February, 2006. Institutionally, it was the coming together of l'Union des forces progressistes (UFP) and Option citoyenne (OC). What this fusion accomplished was to provide a space for the expression of the hopes and dreams of two generations of struggle in Quebec. Those who attended the 1000-strong opening rally, will never forget the emotion - a video showing the history of struggle in Quebec reaching back through the tumultuous decades of the 1960s and 1970s, from the War Measures Act of 1970 and the general strike of 1972, to the women's movement of the 1980s and 1990s, and the anti-globalization and anti-war movements of the 21st century. There was a feeling of history being made. With a seat in the National Assembly, QS has a new tool to add to the historic commitment of the UFP to be a "party of the street and of the ballot box." The visibility that comes from having a sitting member will propel QS into the public eye in a new way. There were some other encouraging results from the election. In particular, the right-wing Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ), which had soared to second place in the 2007 election, saw its vote collapse by a stunning 694,487, leading to the election night resignation of leader Mario Dumont. But there remain many challenges, of which QS members are very aware. Celebrations of Khadir's victory were tempered by disappointment over Françoise David narrowly failing to join Khadir in the National Assembly. In addition, the overall result was a majority government for Jean Charest and the Liberal Party, a leader and a party who are a known commodity in Quebec politics - committed to defending the interests of corporate power. The story of QS needs to be given much more visibility. Our sisters and brothers in Quebec have taken up the challenge of forging a united alternative to the traditional parties of politics, and have had some real success.