Montreal ‘Leaders’ Debate’: Debating the problems vs working out a tactical program

When a system reaches the point of impasse, the space for change comes into sharp relief. This is the case in Canada where the electoral democracy clearly does not empower the people and is even having difficulty giving rise to a champion from amongst the parties which are put forward for election to form the government. Try as the rulers might, the declaration that these parties represent the people does not wash.

The crisis in which the electoral system is mired was clearly evident in last night’s “leaders’ debate” in Montreal. The debate featured what are called five party leaders while the representatives of the people raised their demands both before the debate and during the debate outside the Radio Canada building where the debate was held.

The class which represents the neo-liberal anti-social offensive calls the shots at a time it is necessary for the working class to do so. It is the working class which is consistent with the development of the productive forces. It is the class which must assume the leading position for the society to progress because the ruling circles’ destruction of the natural and social environment is reaching drastic levels.

They have little to learn from the “leaders’ debate” except that the issue is not ideological about the problems but a matter of working out a tactical program that will actually defeat those parties which push retrogression on the society.

Observations from Viewers in Quebec

Renewal Update asked friends of the MLPC in various households for their observations after watching the Montreal “Leaders’ Debate.” Here are some of the responses.

Worker from the South Shore

“To me the debate yesterday looked and sounded like a huge melee. Many times, it was not even possible to hear what these people were saying. They got more and more caught up in their brawl, constantly interrupting each other. The moderator did not help. She promoted an atmosphere of hysteria: ‘You’ve got 15 seconds to answer,’ and then 10 seconds and even five.

“My observation? This lack of principle and total hysteria is supposed to be ‘the passionate way’ one has to speak to Quebeckers. It is a bad joke.”

Worker at Bombardier

“One thing that struck me was the refusal of the leaders to answer questions. For example:  Question: ‘What is your stand on the fact that the $57 billion surplus in the EI Fund was written off?’ Answer: ‘We are going to make sure that the Fund is balanced,’ or ‘We are the ones who are going to help the middle class.’

“No respect is shown for the question, and no respect for the viewer.”

Teacher in Verdun

“I saw no evidence that the leaders understand or care to understand the nature or cause of a problem. An important issue as the economy is reduced to whether tax cuts or tax increases are killing or creating jobs. In what shape is the Canadian economy? Why? What are the factors that are involved? None of this matters according to these so-called leaders who are leaders of nothing.”

Student at UQAM

“We are told this is a political debate. I did not see any politics. The words ‘political debate’ seem to mean that the people must not be involved in any meaningful discussion about the cause of problems and their solutions.

“For me this debate confirmed what the MLPC says: there is a big battle over Quebec. Quebeckers are a specific target because they have a collective consciousness of their own demands. This is why they are portrayed as socially backward, xenophobic, conservative — not in the sense that like everyone else they yearn for stability, but in the reactionary sense — as if our values are backward, inbred, socially anti-conscious.

“This is simply not true. Quebeckers have always played and continue to play a great role in bringing about progressive social change in Canada. Today all our demands are for the recognition of our rights within the framework of the recognition of the rights of all. This is why ‘the issues’ are being invented for us, so that our demands are not addressed. We have our own demands and putting them forward is the battle of Quebec.”

An MLPC Activist at Dawson College

“What struck me is that we really need democratic renewal. The battle over Quebec seems to have become acute amongst these leaders and the few people they represent in their parties. We are beginning to see how they think ‘the fix’ is going to come together. The Harper game plan, for instance, seemed to be to sit back and watch ‘the opposition’ tear itself to shreds and then have the airwaves filled with the refrain that ‘Harper is the most stable to lead the country.’ It is a scary prospect which Canadians should seriously take action to avoid.”

A Retired Teacher Originally from France

“This fight over Quebec has the ruling circles grasping at straws. For instance the so-called Niqab issue is used to stir up passions and ‘create’ a winner! It is irresponsible. It has nothing to do with dealing with the serious problems with Canada’s citizenship law which recognizes privileges, not rights. It is a pathetic attempt to divert the attention and focus of the people from the need to fight for a new citizenship law. It is to disinform public opinion — make the public feel helpless, hopeless and humiliated, as the MLPC says.”

A Cashier

“The Quebec people deserve better. The Canadian people deserve better. Quebec is always under attack with the media saying that Quebeckers are on board with the security, war and values agenda of the Harperites, with which the Bloc Québécois is now associating itself. That is not the world I live in. In my circles people are thinking about things — including how degenerate these leaders are and how to save our children from the fate they have in store for us. That’s what we are thinking about.”

Source: Renewal Update, September 25, 2015 • No. 173

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