September 04, 2011
LAYTON, TURMEL AND QUEBEC - Editorial: People's Voice Editorial
The sudden death of Opposition Leader Jack Layton has shocked Canadians. While we frequently disagreed with Mr. Layton, he was seen by millions of NDP supporters as a voice for working people in a Parliament dominated since Confederation by the parties of big business. We extend our condolences to his family and colleagues at this difficult moment.
A review of the NDP's record under Jack Layton may come later, but this is a suitable time to comment on the reaction to his final decision - the appointment of popular Québec trade unionist Nicole Turmel as interim NDP leader. The election of 59 NDP MPs in Québec did not reflect a truly fundamental shift in the outlook of working people, since the NDP and the Bloc Québecois have long shared many elements of a social democratic approach. Coming on the heels of the NDP's remarkable gains in Québec, Layton's move showed a desire to hold these advances in the next campaign.
However, some of the response to Turmel's appointment in English-speaking Canada has been appalling, to be blunt. Even as the NDP grapples with the "national question" - the reality that Québec constitutes a nation within the Canadian state - narrow-minded Anglo chauvinism has reared its ugly head. Turmel is a "closet separatist", howls the corporate media, pointing to her former memberships in the BQ and the left-wing Québec Solidaire party. The fact that Turmel also held an NDP card for many years is ignored, as is the complex debate within the QS, which is home to a wide range of views on solutions to the national question.
Such McCarthy-style attacks against those who do not share the Tory/Liberal federalist view of Canada have no place in a genuine, democratic debate; those screeching the loudest are selling out Canadian sovereignty to Yankee imperialism. The people of Québec (and the Aboriginal peoples) have the right of national self-determination - and also the democratic right to take part in Canadian political struggles. Period.
(The above article is from the September 1-15, 2011, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)
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