Working people around the world should support the millions of Quebecois who plan to vote yes in the upcoming referendum for Quebec national rights. Their resistance to national oppression strengthens all working people.
The demand for Quebec autonomy in the framework of a new economic and political relationship with the rest of Canada, which is at the center of the October 30 referendum, is a reflection of the French-speaking population's aspiration to equality, justice, and dignity. It is the concrete expression of their right of self- determination.
Quebecois are oppressed on the basis of the language they speak. They suffer discrimination, are paid less in wages, and receive inferior education and health services. The Quebecois' basic right to decide what kind of relationship they want to maintain with the rest of Canada has been systematically denied them for more than 150 years.
Today the exploiters and oppressors of this world are stepping up their campaign against Quebec rights. From U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher to Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and multimillionaire Bombardier CEO Laurent Beaudoin, they reject the simple and legitimate demand that the Quebecois control their own destiny. Their campaign is a campaign of fear, lies, blackmail, and threats.
Contrary to the wealthy few of this world, the Militant and communist workers and youth in Canada have campaigned over the last five weeks in defense of Quebec national rights, which is central to the fight to unify the working class across Canada.
The capitalists pretend that a yes victory would break up Canada and lead to economic chaos. But it is the capitalist system they are defending that brings economic chaos. It is their attacks against our social programs and social services that are widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
The lower wages that capitalist corporations like Bombardier, Alcan, and Domtar pay in Quebec are a major source of superprofits. Canada's rulers use anti-Quebec chauvinism and prejudice to divide working people along national and linguistic lines.
The Quebecois resistance over the last half century has reinforced the fight of all the oppressed and exploited in Canada, from those who built the industrial trade unions in the 1930s, to those who made the first breakthrough in the fight for women's right to abortion in the 1970s, to the Natives' struggle for self-determination.
Today, their resistance to national oppression strengthens the mobilizations against government cuts in social services.
A victory for the yes in the referendum will place working people in Quebec in a better position to take the next steps in fighting against their national oppression and to confront the anti-immigrant, anti-women, and anti-working-class policies put forward by capitalist politicians, including those calling for a yes vote like Lucien Bouchard and Jacques Parizeau.
As Canadian Union of Public Employees president Judy Darcy told the delegates at the union convention in Montreal recently, the support by labor to Quebec's right to self-determination goes hand in hand with strengthening "the ties that bind us as workers."
Working people, support your brothers and sisters in Quebec. Say yes to Quebec autonomy! Say yes to equality, justice, and dignity!
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