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Why We Need To Resist Liberal Austerity in Quebec

11/11/2014 12:22 EST | Updated 01/11/2015 05:59 EST

There were two meetings in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region that drew significant regional coverage and interest, but less at the national level. Tuesday evening in Jonquière and Wednesday evening in Roberval, more than 1,000 people turned out to discuss the impact of the new Liberal government's austerity drive.

First, and most obviously, our members are concerned. The discussions about the impact of cuts in services sent shivers down my spine at times. Workers on the front lines see the deterioration in the quality of services. These workers in health care, social services and child recognize that the quality of services is declining, despite their superhuman efforts day in and day out. And it's extremely draining for them to see this when they are doing the best they can. The resources that are available are clearly not adequate to improve the situation. Furthermore, our members are often ill at ease when they have to share these realities with the people who receive the services.

For two hours, people talked about the very harmful effects of the austerity implemented by one government after another and now accelerated by the Couillard government. There was a broad consensus at the meeting that we agree with the majority of people in Québec (70 per cent of the population) who want the government to work at reducing inequalities, according to a survey done by the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM). It was obvious to everyone that the Couillard government's proposals will simply make inequalities worse.

The government wasn't mandated to dismantle public services

Philippe Couillard didn't get a mandate from the population to do what he's doing. Philippe Couillard is implementing the CAQ's program. In the April 2014 elections, the CAQ's ideas garnered the support of 23 per cent of the people who voted, or 16 per cent of the people eligible to vote! The Liberals aren't even implementing their own program that they campaigned on during the election. Of course, their own program wasn't supported by the majority of electors in April, but at least it was the platform on which they were elected. If Couillard had presented his real program during the election campaign, he wouldn't be prime minister today!

Given the lack of legitimacy and the fact that Couillard has no mandate for what he wants to impose on the population, the people attending the meetings came to the only possible conclusion. If the government doesn't have any legitimacy to impose his plan to dismantle the State, there are only two possible ways to respond.

First possible response: there's nothing that can be done... Despite the lack of legitimacy for its actions, the government is too determined, so we have to accept the destruction that it is proposing. Once we do that, we already know what the consequences will be. Public services will be drastically reduced. Inequalities in Québec will get significantly worse.

Second possible response: resist the imposition of the Couillard government's radical plans! Resist worsening inequalities. Will we stop the government? Who can guarantee that? The only guarantee we have is that if we do nothing, we will we will soon find ourselves saddled with the Canadian average: a rapid increase in inequalities and impoverishment of the majority of the population. The only hope of changing this trajectory is to resist the Couillard government's plans. Resist more than we ever have in the past.

Resist Liberal austerity. Develop a broad coalition with all unions that want to fight, with community groups that want to fight, with student associations that want to fight. Give space to the population that usually doesn't make it heard and that wants to fight too.

Already on the weekend, there were large numbers of people in various cities and towns of Québec on Sunday to tell the Couillard government that we want to keep the family policy that improves the quality of life of all families in Québec!

Join us in building the resistance!

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