Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TOM MULCAIR, THE NDP, THE FTQ, AND THE OVERLOOKED STORY OF THE WEEK

Eugene Plawiuk
August 14, 2015

The second week of the election saw lots of news around the various parties and leaders. The  most important story of the week involved the NDP but it was quickly lost in the other news stories that swirl around Tom Mulcair and the NDP. The story and the political impact of most news stories from this week will disappear in the distance as we get closer to October 19 voting day.  But this news will have an impact far beyond its one day news story in the press.

The press is English you see, and it represents English Canada, the events and politics of Quebec get little coverage in the Postmedia Monopoly. And when they do get covered it is with little depth, as there are few reporters versed in the politics of Quebec that write in English or for the English Press in Canada.

The news event that was of greater importance than all the others was that the second largest labour federation in Canada had  endorsed the NDP and Tom Mulcair for PM.  The FTQ or Quebec Labour Federation is larger than the Ontario Federation of Labour, as a provincial body and for affiliations it rivals the CLC, the Canadian Labour Congress. In fact it is a National Labour Federation that is as important as the CLC. Yet you hear little about it in the Canadian press.

This week the federation did the unexpected and surprised the nations of Quebec and Canada by endorsing a Federalist Party for the first time in forty years and that Federal party was the Social Democratic  NDP and its Quebec born leader Tom Mulcair. This is no small thing, because for those last forty years the FTQ has been the backbone of Quebec Inc. as much as it has been the base in both the PQ and the BQ. It was and is the left wing of the established Quebec Nationalist movement, until this week that is.

This week the FTQ announced it had abandoned the Bloc Quebecois (BQ) formed by Brian Mulroney Conservatives from Quebec, as well as liberal and social democratic Quebecois. It came about with the fall of the Mulroney Government, resulting in a Liberal government and the official opposition being a Quebec  Nationalist party the BQ. The Bloc as it was called in the English language press was an unholy alliance that scared the bejesus out of English Canada.


Mulcair 'proud' to see FTQ unions support NDP instead of Bloc
GIUSEPPE VALIANTE, THE CANADIAN PRESS
More from Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
Published on: August 11, 2015 | MASCOUCHE — A major and sovereignist-leaning labour federation in Quebec has dropped its long-standing endorsement of the BlocQuebecois and some of its member unions are supporting the NDP, making party leader Tom Mulcair “extremely proud.”
Mulcair said New Democrats will work hard to maintain support from Quebec’s unions — who have traditionally supported sovereignist parties at the federal and provincial levels — in order to “expand our traditional base and rally progressives across Quebec and Canada.”Quebec’s FTQ federation is heavily involved in politics; it covers 37 labour unions and counts 600,000 members.Its secretary-general, Serge Cadieux, said Tuesday the FTQ is not officially endorsing any political party, but that two of its unions have so far come out in support of the NDP.
The federation has officially endorsed the Bloc in almost every federal election since the early ’90s and it favours the sovereignist Parti Québécois provincially.
This time, however, Cadieux said the Bloc is not best-placed to beat the Conservatives, whom he called “catastrophic” for working people.
Cadieux said the FTQ has targeted 10 ridings in Quebec where support for the Conservatives is relatively strong and where it will “focus its energies.”

Formed in the 1990’s it was victorious in the federal election of 1996 after the defeat of the provincial Parti Quebecois sponsored referendum on Soviergnty Association with Canada. It’s leader was the charismatic former Mulroney Conservative Minister Lucien Bouchard. With the narrowest of votes the referendum (like those later in Catalonia, and Scotland) for separation was defeated. In that defeat the then Premier of Quebec exposed the nationalist agenda as one of racism and exclusionism, with the dark tinge of Duplesis’s racism and anti-Semitism. He denounced the loss as being the result of foreigners and immigrants and those of Upper Westmount, the historic Jewish enclave in Montreal.


With the failure of the referendum there was an immediate leadership race for the PQ and then leader of the BQ in a controversial opportunistic decision went from leader of the BQ to the Leader of the PQ and provincial premier in the following election.
In 1997 the BQ elected a new leader, a left wing leader, Gilles Duceppe, who was a former union leader and Marxist-Leninist. He remained leader till 2011 when he lost his seat in the Orange Wave that swept Quebec during that federal election.

Duceppe is back now as leader of the BQ, a decimated party that is a skeletal ghost of itself.
From its once lofty position, ironically, as Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, the BQ has had a massive decline in power and seats,  last election left the party with four sitting MP’s, two of which abandoned the party half way through their terms to sit as independents. The BQ ended its days with as many seats as the fledgling elected Green Party in the House of Commons.

Duceppe was brought out of mothballs this spring to take over the leadership once again of the BQ for the upcoming October 19 election.  The hope was that his charm and charisma could cobble together some kind of opposition to the NDP this election. And key to that ability was not just Duceppe but the support of social movements, cooperatives, and the labour movement. All of whom had abandoned the BQ after the NDP overwhelmingly swept through Quebec last election.

To have lost the FTQ support means that Duceppe and the BQ, which once had the most powerful political organization in the province, have to run cap in hand with little or no base of support.

Even the BQ’s provincial counterpart the PQ can do little for the party or Duceppe, despite a recent photo op of him and the leader of the PQ riding bicycles together. For unlike Mssr. Duceppe a former Marxist Leninist and trade unionist, Karl Pierre Palideau the PQ leader is  a captain of industry, a union busting boss of the Quebecor empire, virtually synonymous with Quebec Inc.

Peladeau suddenly became a nationalist in the last provincial election which saw the defeat of the PQ, in part thanks to Mssr. Peladeau’s nationalist exhortations,  resulting in a majority Liberal government in Quebec and Mssr. Peladeau now leader of the Party Quebecor.  Mssr Peladeau as a politician is a stick in the mud, a one trick pony. Duceppe can expect little of the old communal support from the PQ if only because the party is a shadow of its former self.

When Duceppe was rolled out as the savior of the BQ for this election English Canadian pundits ruminated about the possibility that this would dent the NDP majority in the province. Yes two seats and a defeated Duceppe were going to be a real threat to the NDP.

And as it has turned out no such thing occurred, indeed the opposite did the FTQ and its financial cooperative the Fond Solidare, or the Solidarity Fund, the largest single source of workers investment capital. the only successful labour fund in either Canada’s. The FTQ manages this investment fund for its members, and public investors, making it the thirds largest investor in Quebec Inc after the Casse Populair;  the Quebec Pension Fund, and the Desjardin Funds. As far as private capital goes the Power corporation sontinues its historic domination of that sector while Peladeau’s Quebecor follows not far behind, Old Capital meet New Capital.

The Solidarity Fund invests its member’s money into Quebec infrastructure for instance Rona, and Hydro Quebec, if there is a chocolate factory that needs funding Fonds Solidaire is there. It has been criticized by those in the business press, as both being an investment monopoly with undue influence in Quebec Inc. and a dangerous investment vehicle, which means it is successful and a model to follow, which had not been done in English Canada where the closest labour would come is the BC Construction Unions Labour Fund, which CLC Ken Georgetti helped set up.

Fonds de solidarité FTQ Applauds NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's Commitment to Reinstate the Labour Fund Tax Credit   
http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/fonds-de-solidarite-ftq-applauds-ndp-leader-thomas-mulcairs-commitment-to-reinstate-the-labour-fund-tax-credit-517927341.html Record Year for Fonds de solidarité FTQ and its Shareholders: Profits of $992 Million 
http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/record-year-for-fonds-de-solidarite-ftq-and-its-shareholders-profits-of-992-million-518015071.html

So you have a base in a very activist and political labour federation and its investment fund, endorsing the NDP and Tom Mulcair, and this is no big thing in English Canada.  Lets understand what this means, the federation has officially abandoned the BQ. That means it is dead, let me repeat that dead. Duceppe was defeated by the NDP in a safe riding, and now he has been resurrected to lead a zombie party, in order to take votes away from the NDP, giving them to either Trudeau  Liberals, or Harper Cons. 

The hope was that this would be enough to halt the Orange wave spreading across Canada.
But this fifth column has collapsed into dust now that the FTQ has thrown its complete support behind the NDP, despite its protestations that it is only promoting ABC. This should be headline news, almost as important as the NDP winning government from Harper.  This is the final stake in the heart of this undead creature the BQ, what had begun under Jack Layton, has finally met its finale under Tom Mulcair.

Here is the headline if the media and pundits were honest, and even conceived its importance the NDP  a nominally federalist party wiped out the BQ. This is what has pissed off Trudeau Jr. and scared the bejesus out of Harper. Both also lost seats to the NDP wave last election and could lose again.

Four years after facing a scoffing political punditry in English Canada, the NDP wave in Quebec has not weakened but solidified and gotten stronger.  It also has now fully transitioned from Jack Layton to Tom Mulcair, different men, different political styles, both popular beyond what pundits expected. Tom Mulcair in both Canada’s is enormously popular for a leader that few knew little about even last December.  The NDP has a charismatic and talented leader who many can see as Prime Minister, after all his opponent the current PM Stephen Harper came from exactly the same position; an untried Leader of the Opposition.\

With the FTQ and the Solidarity Fund backing him in Quebec, this shifts the power dynamic in Federal politics forever. The BQ is gone, a Federalist party is surging in Quebec, and maintaining that hold, frustrating Trudeau Jr. who lashed out at Mulcair in the first debate over the NDP success with its Sherbrooke Accord, giving Quebecois the right to a simple majority 50 plus 1 if they were too hold another referendum, that is enough to satisfy the Nationalists in the FTQ and across the province.

Whether they use that option in the future is questionable, as we have seen in Scotland, even there the Nationalist sentiment did not deliver a simple majority in their recent referendum vote. Why would it be different in Quebec’s case. The NDP and Tom Mulcair are counting on that and the Sherbrooke accord to satisfy the nationalists who no longer trust the Bloc to speak for their values, which remain social democratic in nature, just like the NDP.


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