TML Weekly asked Pierre Chénier, leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ), his thoughts on the Quebec election in the final days of the campaign. That interview is published below.
TML Weekly: Thank you Pierre for this opportunity to discuss your views on the Quebec election which will end in a few days, on Monday, October 1. What do you think about the election and what are the prospects?
Pierre Chénier: The election has been a boorish public display of infighting among the main traditional parties which form the cartel party system. They are desperate to either form the next government – but have no vision to present – or to not get wiped out because people are so fed up with their lack of a program for Quebec, their lack of vision.
The election has revealed in a very stark way that the citizens play no role in elections except to vote. This exercise is said to be the guarantee of a democratic system. However, to be reduced to the status of voters in a system in which all the other decisions are made by a ruling class which does not represent the citizens’ interests is not perceived to be democratic at all. Who chooses the candidates? What are the issues? What are the desirable results? Everything is decided by political parties which represent the narrow private interests of a minority, pushed also by the monopoly-owned media.
Despite this, it is said that those who represent these minority interests will form a majority government and a small party like ours is called fringe. It is a bad joke imposed on the people by virtue of who controls the political power, who makes the laws, and who implements these laws. The working people are on the receiving end of everything.
Only the working people are fit to elaborate solutions to the problems faced by the people and the society itself. How to guarantee health care and education and deliver them, or carry out production in agriculture and industry is not rocket science. But the working people are literally not permitted to decide these matters. It is the monopolies and supranational interests and the financial institutions and so-called investors who decide, and governments are at their disposal. It is not a new problem but the dangers being posed to our societies and our world are graver than ever. This problem requires a solution.
This is why the renewal of the political process is the main issue taken up by the PMLQ. The process needs to be democratized by eliminating the role of privilege and the inequality between those who rule and those who are ruled. Sovereignty must be vested in the citizenry, not an elite which represents minority private interests.
People express serious concerns that all their efforts to empower themselves come to naught precisely because everything is done to make sure they do not participate directly in the political life. When they do, measures are in place to criminalize them and their participation. The electoral law is also for that purpose. It divides the polity between those who rule and those who are ruled. In other words, the citizen is not an equal member with all others in a political body, with equal rights. It is not this body politic which is vested with decision-making power, but those who have usurped power and say they act in the name of the people.
TMLW: There are 22 registered parties in the Quebec election and 940 candidates running for seats in 125 constituencies. You said your party is considered fringe. Can you elaborate what you mean?
PC: Not surprisingly, we do not consider ourselves fringe. In fact we provide the working people, who represent the majority, with an opportunity to speak in their own name. They use their own voice to explain the real conditions of life and work they experience, and their concerns. They can be heard through our online paper during this electoral process, which criminalizes ordinary citizens and their organizations – whether the defence organizations of the workers or social justice organizations – if they spend money to be heard in an election. To spend money they have to register as “third parties.” It’s offensive to have citizens reduced to “third parties” in an election!
Furthermore, this business of calling small parties “fringe” shows the disdain of the ruling elite and the monopoly-owned media for democracy. Privilege, power and contempt for the people oozes from their every pore.
Who chose them to decide who is worthy of being elected and who is not? Nobody. Using the power conferred on them by a system which defends the private interests who rule the roost, they created a party system of government and electoral laws which dictate that only the parties which serve the rich can form governments.
But now that supranational interests are dictating the direction of the economy, and social and cultural policy on an anti-social and anti-national basis, they have lost control of even their own legislatures. They are hard pressed to claim their governments have the consent of the governed when everything is dictated by the biggest oligopolies in the world.
TMLW: Tell us about the participation of the PMLQ in this election.
PC: In this election, the PMLQ would like to see a minority government. We think this is an outcome which better favours the people within a situation in which no party government will stop paying the rich and increase investments in social programs. It would hit at the fraud which claims that elections give whomever forms a majority government a mandate to implement an anti-social, anti-national agenda with the consent of the governed. These governments do not have the consent of the governed. It is a fraud. But also, in this day and age, the anti-national reference is to the stranglehold over Quebec by supranational private interests as well as its integration into U.S. Homeland Security and wars of occupation and aggression. We cannot solve problems of the economy or of a social, cultural and political nature so long as these narrow, private minority interests are running the show.
Of course, I am speaking to you on the eve of the election which has been declared either too close to call at this point, or difficult to predict, because the first-past-the-post method of counting votes means there is no correlation between who gets the majority of votes and who gets the majority of seats. These predictions also do not take into account whether the conditions are there for the working class to express its own wisdom and have an impact on the results by voting in a manner which rejects all these parties and their neo-liberal agenda.
Certainly, the ruling class wants a majority government so that it can continue to destroy any arrangements which defend the public interest and accelerate the privatization of social programs, the destruction of unions, and the marginalization of any organizations which fight for social justice or the health of the environment. They claim that these views and actions are harmful to the economy or are extremist or they use other pretexts to keep the workers away from taking up politics themselves. The ruling class has a great deal at stake and has all the means and money at its disposal to manipulate the results to get what it wants.
But, as we said, the working people represent the majority interests. They too have their wisdom, no matter how badly the cards are stacked against them.
The PMLQ has 25 candidates in this election on the basis of its platform to humanize the natural and social environment. By going all out for democratic renewal, the workers will build a modern Quebec that defends the rights of all. This is how rights are defended, by taking concerted action as one polity which has an aim to defend the rights of all. It is not by splitting our ranks among self-serving parties or on the basis of “identity politics” which cause confusion, acrimony and divisions. We work against permitting these alien forces to declare the issues and agenda for discussion.
Our daily newspaper, Chantier politique, poses the issue of working together so that the sovereign decision-making power over all the affairs of society is vested in the people and not in the supranational private interests and their nation-wrecking. Of course it is a small initiative but the quality is there and when there is quality, quantity can follow.
Chantier politique does this in a practical way, by making sure the voice and concerns of the working people are heard, which is the very first step in addressing the need for political mechanisms that empower the people to play a role that favours them. You can read it at pmlq.qc.ca. Most of the articles are also published in English. And our program is available in several languages on our website as well.
When the workers speak for themselves, in their own name, it ends the status imposed by the electoral law that they are mere spectators to a horse race between those parties the ruling class has decided it can live with forming a government.
TMLW: It is a fact that Quebec is always made the first target of attack by the ruling class of the Canadian state. Is this a factor in this election?
PC: Yes of course. In Quebec we represent a social and national cohesion that the Canadian ruling class and its Quebec counterparts want to smash at any cost. Everything is done in this election to raise Quebeckers’ fear of “the other” – a fictitious danger, against immigration, as if eliminating immigrants will restore the rights of the people! These attempts have never succeeded, not because the separatism card is no longer on the table but because the workers are fighting for what belongs to them and to the society by right. We will see what they are able to achieve in this election.
TMLW: Thank you. We wish you well.