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Labour Movements on the March

The Anything but Harper campaign continues unabated. The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec which has 57 000 members (mostly nurses and health professionals) has called for a ‘strategic vote'. Lisa Bonamie, the FIQ's President, has declared that voters should look in their ridings and see who can actually beat the Conservative. The FIQ has just published a very convincing pamphlet explaining why the prospect of a Conservative majority government is a disaster for the majority of the population on central issues like health. All in all, the FIQ estimates that the NDP and the Bloc represents alternatives in terms of defending people's rights. You can check out this dossier on the FIQ web page (http://www.fiqsante.qc.ca/documents_publications/documents/fiqdossierspe...)

In the meantime, the electoral competition heats up. Certainly, the Bloc has made progress in the last weeks. But the battle rages on in many regions, even in the vast and sprawling suburbs around Montreal, traditionally strongholds of the PQ and the Bloc. In Rivière-Mille-Isles north of Montreal, the former Director of the Quebec Canadian Auto Workers, Luc Desnoyers, is running for the Bloc where it has won big time in the last elections. Luc says that the Conservatives will continue their detrimental policy against Quebec's industrial sector, which is suffering because of the neglect of the federal government. Luc in addition is backed by a coalition of labor activists called ‘Syndicalistes pour un Québec libre' (http://www.spqlibre.org), which brings together several hundreds trade unionists working within the PQ and the Bloc, ‘because independence is the key to our social progress', so they argue.

However in Rivière-Mille-Isles, it would be wrong to think that the battle is over. The Conservatives are courting young families new so to speak in the labor market. They work in their majority for small private businesses and feel alienated from labor movements and the public sector. Conservative ‘values' like individualism, hostility to social dissent, moral conformism are progressing there. On that front, social movements and the left in general have been relatively inactive. It may also change. Saturday in Montreal, more than 5 000 people came to demonstrate for reproductive rights, challenging the reactionary onslaught against the right to abortion that Stephen Harper will bring at a later stage.

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