The Couillard government has chosen its camp: it has decided to side with the powerful who have no qualms about crushing conflicting or dissenting voices in order to impose their vision. It took less than a year for the man who presented the Liberals as the most respectful and transparent government in our history to attack democracy. And what better opportunity to ride roughshod over democracy than a bill that dismantles our public system of health care and social services?
A dismantlement of our public health and social services system
Contrary to what various columnists say, I don't find it surprising that Minister Barrette wanted to cut off debate and push through Bill 10. It's the cornerstone that will make it possible to move ahead with more privatization in health care and social services. The government will group services together to make them more attractive for private enterprise. You're not convinced? Well then, just ask yourself why the Federation of Chambers of Commerce is already salivating over the business opportunities that the bill will bring. In fact, this is practically the only group that has given the bill whole-hearted support. And why is the minister giving himself the right to award contracts to the private sector?
It's understandable that columnists who aren't thoroughly acquainted with the system are confused and lost in the details of what's at stake here. However, all the experts who understand how the system works were very clear about it in parliamentary hearings: this "administrative" change is very bad. Our super minister didn't bother answering their arguments. Instead, he preferred to attack the messengers.
Bill 10 is much more than a mere administrative reform. While all the personnel will be focused on adjusting to the new structures, problems of access to services will continue to get worse. And it's the population that will pay for it! How long will citizens accept not having access to health care? I'm convinced that more of them will be forced to turn to the private sector -- and that will suit this business-friendly government of wheeler-dealers just fine!
An attack on the democratic process
The entire process leading up to the adoption of this bill is questionable. We have rarely seen a minister with so little consideration for the women and men who provide services every day. I'm not sure that people really grasp the danger of leaving such a complex system in the hands of a single man.
When you add in the fact that this bill will be passed using closure by a party that was only supported by 30 per cent of the population in the last election, it goes without saying that something's wrong. It can only heighten the public's cynicism.
If you ask which side the population trusts -- the nurses, attendants, professionals and all the personnel in the system, or an all-powerful minister who thinks he knows it all? -- I think the population opts for the side of the people who provide services day after day after day. So how can we accept this kind of attack on our democracy?
What legitimacy does this government have? How can the Couillard government claim to speak and act on our behalf?
Thanks to our political system, this government can do virtually whatever it wants until the next general election. Just too bad if all the groups concerned are opposed! Too bad if the population never gave it a mandate to go ahead with austerity measures! Too bad 70 per cent of the population wants reducing inequalities to be the priority! The fact that 30 per cent of the population voted for it, that's enough to hold the majority of the population silenced and in check for five years. Strange democracy!
What are we waiting for? To refuse to let our elites confiscate democracy for the benefit of the bank accounts of the most affluent?
Continue the battle
Next week, FSSS-CSN unions will assess the best ways of continuing the battle. It's not too late to force this government to back down. It's never too late to reject austerity!
If we let it do what it wants, what will be left of our system?
How long will we stand for our seniors not receiving the services to which they are entitled? How many vulnerable youth won't receive the necessary support? How many people will wait for hours in emergency departments?
Given this head-on attack, we have to maintain a united front. It won't be easy, because one of the government's objectives is precisely to attack union solidarity. We have to stay committed to our objective and resist. Resist an unacceptable anti-democratic offensive. Resist an elite that ransacks our public services to fatten their own bank accounts.
February 6, 2015 will be engraved on my calendar as a day when democracy was trampled underfoot, revealing the real face of this government.