This spring’s general election in Quebec resulted in a major shake-up of the political landscape. Both the ruling federalist, center-right Quebec Liberal Party and the opposition, pro-sovereignty Parti Québécois (PQ) suffered serious losses due to the emergence of the right-wing, populist Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ).

Significantly, a new left-wing party, Québec Solidaire, contested its first election and came close to winning in two electoral districts (with nearly 30% of the vote). Québec Solidaire recieved an impressive vote for such a new party, but lacked the resources to fully realize its potential. It did win, however, the endorsement of the Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN) trade union in Montreal, and individual candidates won the support of other trade unions and union leaders. Overall, Québec Solidaire received 3.75% of the vote.

The core of Québec Solidaire, formed in 2006, is made up of working-class activists disgusted with the rightward evolution of the Parti Québécois over a long period. The new party brings together anti-globalization activists, socialists including the Parti Communiste du Québec, social democrats, feminists, and various left-wing currents.

More than half of its candidates were women, and a number came from immigrant backgrounds. As well as winning the support of some sectors of the union movement, Solidaire earned praise from the leader of the Assembly of First Nations in Quebec as the only party addressing the concerns of Native people.

The party’s platform is anti-big business, explicitly supports sovereignty, calling for a constituent assembly to draft a constitution for an independent Quebec state, and advocates progressive social policies such as a $10 minimum wage, the abolition of university tuition fees, the construction of 4,000 social housing units, a nationalized system of Pharmacare, the investment of over $1 billion in healthcare, the nationalization of wind power, and major investment in public transit.

However, Solidaire’s program is not explicitly socialist and fails to call for the economy to be brought under public, democratic control. Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada) supports the Parti Communiste’s call for Solidaire to adopt a socialist program.

With the election of a right-wing National Assembly and the surge of the neo-liberal, socially conservative ADQ, class struggle will re-emerge. With bold socialist policies and tactics, Solidaire can successfully lead mass resistance. By proving to workers and youth that Solidaire is their party, it can grow in size and influence and make big gains in the next elections. Quebec needs a mass working-class party that can fight both inside and outside the Quebec National Assembly.

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