Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Québec solidaire: a global justice party

Here is my translation of the original draft resolution on international policy proposed for debate and adoption at the Québec solidaire congress in Montréal May 19-22. It includes, in addition to the numbered sections that are up for adoption as amended by congress delegates, the introductory comments for each topic that were provided by the party's policy committee.


As I explained in my previous post, proposed amendments from local and national associations and bodies of the party were edited by a synthesis committee for debate at the congress. “For the most part the synthesis document,which also publishes each of the suggested amendments with an explanation of why it proposes adoption or rejection, does not fundamentally alter the draft proposals.”


– Richard Fidler


* * *


Québec solidaire: a global justice party


The globalization of markets promotes a world of exploitation, competition and domination. In contrast, global justice (altermondialisme) demands “another possible world”: a world of inclusion, cooperation and solidarity. Québec solidaire has been a global justice advocate since it was founded. Its politics are based on the following principles:


-          against imperialism and for a genuine international solidarity;

-          for preventing violence and building peace; and

-          for fair and equitable international trade.


Where does the global justice movement originate?


Since the 19th century, an internationalist tradition has sought to found solidarity among peoples.


In the 1990s, the movement against globalization targeted the symbols of a new world order: multinational or transnational enterprises, free-trade agreements and international financial or commercial institutions.


The current “world order” is the product of years of liberalization of the economy, privatization of public services, deregulation of financial markets, reduction of tariff barriers, etc. The anti-globalization movement has fought against this trend during summits in which chiefs of state signed agreements outside the purview of democratically elected parliaments.


The “anti” was then succeeded by the “other” as a way of proposing a democratic and solidaristic alternative to destructive neoliberal globalization.


The global justice movement established a World Social Forum (WSF) in response to the Davos Economic Forum, which each year brings together the global economic elites. The WSF has been an opportunity for many social movements — ecologist, antiwar, indigenous rights, women’s rights, etc. activists — to exchange ideas and strengthen their mutual relations.


Where are we now?


Since 2001, the social forums (world, regional or thematic) have spread throughout the globe. They have also inspired international encounters such as the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change, the Rio+20 People’s Summit, and the Sarajevo Peace Event.


The World March of Women has organized many global events that have led, inter alia, to the adoption of the Women’s Global Charter for Humanity in 2005 [2004], and important demands in 2010 and 2015.


The economic crisis of 2007-2008 led the global justice movement to criticize more generally the capitalist economy and the fact that the interests of finance capital override those of states. This critique has inspired the demonstrations of the indigné(es), the “Occupy” movement, the Arab Spring uprisings, and more generally the struggle against austerity.


Like Québec solidaire, political parties adhering to the global justice movement exist just about everywhere in the world. The environmental, social, economic, political and cultural crisis that we are experiencing originates in the contradictions of the present world system. This crisis is experienced locally, nationally and globally. Altermondialisme, global justice, is therefore central to a new projet de société, an agenda for social change.


Only a state that is fully sovereign would have all the necessary tools for such an orientation with the power to participate fully in the development of a new international policy. Nevertheless, a provincial government led by QS could


-          establish tools and policies to promote peace and fight imperialism and militarism;

-          reorient priorities for cooperation toward popular movements and progressive governments fighting for social justice and peace;

-          join its voice to those of the peoples.


4.1 Against imperialism and for real international solidarity


Major powers have dominated the world for centuries. Peoples have been subdued, exploited, assaulted. Today, this old colonialism has been replaced by what is called imperialism. The forms are different, but economic, political and cultural domination is still imposed and the right of peoples to self-determination is still violated.


This imperialism, which is preparing the ground for an unprecedented human and environmental catastrophe, serves the interests of the big monopolies and transnational enterprises. It results from the logic of the capitalist system: the search for maximum profit, the need to accumulate in order to accumulate. Rivalry between transnational enterprises in the appropriation of markets and natural resources leads to rivalry between states.


The flames of conflicts are fanned increasingly as the United State and its rivals seek to consolidate their influence. Furthermore, US maneuvers are aimed at destabilizing progressive governments in Latin America and elsewhere. Imperialist interventions are often presented as “humanitarian operations.” Acts of violence by some states are denounced in order to justify the forceful overthrow of their governments. Yet the imperialist powers shut their eyes to the rights violations committed by their allies.


Imperialism is economic and geopolitical, but it is also cultural: imposing its culture, its educational system, its music, its way of thinking and above all of consumption (in order to multiply business opportunities) — in short, its vision of the world.


Québec solidaire defends a world founded on solidarity and liberation of peoples, on the self-determination of nations, equality between men and women, environmental protection and democratization of international institutions. QS works therefore for social justice and peace, against colonialism, occupations, and militarism. It opposes all imperialist domination.


Within this perspective,

-          it prioritizes the establishment of collaboration with progressive parties and social movements worldwide that share this vision;

-          international assistance should be conceived in solidarity so as to respond to peoples’ needs and not the economic imperatives of Canada or private interests.


Proposition 4.1.1

Fight against global exploitation, poverty and exclusion


Québec solidaire will establish relations of collaboration with parties and social movements fighting in the various regions of the world for social justice, a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and for the economic and social rights of the broad majority. To fight exploitation, poverty inequalities and exclusion throughout the world, a QS government:


a)      will strengthen its relations of cooperation to express its solidarity with peoples struggling for social justice and protection of their living environment against predator and neocolonial logic


                    i.            by participating in the efforts of peoples, progressive political parties and governments to establish structures of cooperation and solidarity based on a fair sharing of resources. with a view to contributing to a new international economic order,


                  ii.            by participating actively in the huge international movement for climate justice, for example by supporting the establishment of an International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal, as discussed in 2010 at the Cochabamba conference in Bolivia,


                iii.            by supporting initiatives which at the global level will help reduce the ecological footprint of economic activities;


b)      along with progressive social movements and political parties will support and apply the following principles striving for social transformation in accordance with the UN guidelines on extreme poverty and human rights:


                    i.            securing respect for the rights of everyone, regardless of his or her origin or destination, including the right of appeal and rectification of their rights where they are violated,


                  ii.            integrating in law and practice the principle of transparency and responsibility of all public and private actors that are involved,


                iii.            supporting the poorest and most excluded persons and groups of persons to help them participate in the decisions that are made and in the search for and implementation of solutions that affect them;


c)      will work for recognition of the human rights and the right to mobility of migrants and refugees, particularly for climate reasons, the all-too-many victims of discriminatory and violent policies and practices throughout the world, by


                    i.            applying the principles adopted in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which came into force in 2003, and if possible ratifying and applying this convention;


                  ii.            participating in the drafting of an international convention on the rights of migrants inspired by the Charte mondiale des migrants proclaimed at Gorée (Sénégal) in 2011.


Proposition 4.1.2

Quebec’s role in the overhaul of the United Nations


With respect to Quebec’s place in the world, a QS government


a)      pursuant to the UN Charter, will reaffirm the sovereignty of states, participate in the transformation of international institutions and support a profound overhaul of the UN to make it truly democratic, in particular by advocating abolition of the right of veto of the five major powers and ensuring that representation and decision-making powers are not based on the assets of the member countries;


b)      under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the September 2015 session to implement the Millennium Development Goals, and the second United Nations Decade for Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017), will pressure the UN to ensure that this program


(i)     is focused on the rights of peoples and persons;


(ii)   tends to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 through the establishment of a social protection platform for everyone;


(iii) is oriented fairly and responsibly to ensuring that no one is exploited, excluded or the victim of discrimination, and that all inequalities are fought;


(iv) encourage international funding of programs promoting access of all children to free primary and secondary education;

(v)   encourage internatinoal funding of programs promoting access to health services and to universal and free social services;


a.       will adhere to the International Criminal Court;


b.      will pressure the United Nations to establish a permanent emergency peace servic and commit to contributing financial and human resources to it.


Proposition 4.1.3

Mutual aid and international solidarity


To support mutual assistance and international solidarity, a QS government


a)      will support such actions aimed at long term development as well as social movements and NGOs working to that effect; for this purpose, it will devote an amount equivalent to at least 0.7% of GDP to them in accordance with the recognized international guidelines and will oversee compliance with the following principles:


                                i.            that international solidarity actions receiving state financial support involve the civil society of the host country and are consistent with international conventions,


                              ii.            that priority is given to countries with progressive governments working in unison with their peoples,


                            iii.            that solidarity actions give priority to the rights, needs and aspirations of the most deprived and most marginalized populations,


                            iv.            that funding is dedicated to long-term actions, in order to increase the chances for success,


                              v.            that solidarity actions preserve the health, diversity and capacity for adaptation of the natural environment,


                            vi.            that higher education is provided free of charge in Quebec for students from poor countries in accordance with terms to be defined,


                          vii.            that international solidarity actions are not aimed at profiting Quebec companies and accordingly are not used as a bargaining chip with the host country,


                        viii.            that the funded activities fall within the perspective that the recipient countries or regions will have no further need for assistance in the medium or long term;


a)      will orient humanitarian assistance (emergency aid) so such actions respond to the needs of the recipient populations, and in so doing:


                                i.            will support actions aimed at providing emergency help to populations whose fundamental needs are no longer satisfied because of natural catastrophes, political and ecological crises, or other causes,


                              ii.            will monitor to ensure that projects are deployed in collaboration with the community, governmental and international organizations. Where the authorities are part of the population’s problems, the guideline for assistance deployment will remain first and foremost the interest of the beneficiary populations.


4.2 Preventing violence and building peace


Are we heading toward a third world war? The global context dangerously resembles the one that preceded the Second World War, with


-          an increase in socio-economic inequalities even within the relatively well-off countries (1% vs. 99%);

-          new hotbeds of confrontation, especially in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa;

-          unending internal conflicts within some countries linked for example to the drug trade or the consequences of civil wars.


We might add the growing militarization, the rearmament of countries like Japan and the rising nuclear threat.


Until recently, the word “war” was understood to mean an officially declared confrontation between two or more states. Nowadays, conflicts instead tend to take the form of civil wars, latent confrontations, regional tensions or intervention of the major powers far from their frontiers. There are said to be at present 29 ongoing conflicts, most of them in the southern hemisphere [the global South].


Most of these conflicts are orchestrated by the West. They are an integral part of capitalist globalization and neocolonialism, an economic model based on


-          extractivism, that is, the appropriation of natural resources by multinationals, mainly western ones. 75% of mining companies have their headquarters in Canada, a legal and tax paradise for this industry;

-          the production of military equipment. Quebec is a participant, in particular in the aeronautics and communications industries, and through the research contracts awarded to our universities;

-          the arms trade, in which five permanent member states of the UN Security Council are especially involved although they are charged with maintaining international peace and security. Canada likewise has its share.


For several years now the US government has been reinforcing militarization in the context of the “war on terrorism.” Under the Conservatives, Canada increased its military spending while reducing the funds allocated to environmental protection, anti-poverty and defense of the rights of the most vulnerable populations. Canada has still not managed to spend 0.7% of its GDP on international assistance!


In addition to the economic consequences this entails, Canada’s active engagement in various conflicts and the open confrontation with the Islamic State provokes other repercussions:


-          the first terrorist-inspired attacks on our soil;

-          legislation which, under the pretext of security, restricts human rights and freedom of expression;

-          the identitarian radicalization and instrumentalization of religion not only in the Middle East but also in the West and Asia;

-          the security industry, growing rapidly and increasingly under the control of private firms that are unaccountable.


Proposition 4.2.1

Culture of peace and participation in antiwar institutions


Québec solidaire will work to introduce and develop a culture of peace. To this effect, it will support the peace movement and education for conflict prevention and resolution with the help of the education system including popular education and public institutions.


In the context of an independent Quebec, a QS government


a)      will appoint a Ministry of Peace and International Solidarity;


b)      will participate in international bodies supporting peace initiatives (e.g. United Nations Peacebuilding Commission);


c)      will exclude membership in NATO[1] and NORAD[2];


d)     will adhere to international treaties contributing to conflict risk reduction, such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines, and the recent Arms Trade Treaty, and will fight for their implementation;


e)      will also adhere to the legal instruments and initiatives to eliminate the use of child soldiers and to contribute to their social reintegration; and


f)       will ban the production of and trade in military equipment.


Proposition 4.2.2

A country without an army


A Quebec without an army will provide itself with an intervention corps trained to assist populations nationally and internationally in catastrophes resulting from natural or human causes. Service in this corps will be for one year, and will be mandatory and universal. It may be replaced by equivalent community service under democratic control by the civilian authorities.


In addition:


Option A

Option B

Instead of an army, Quebec will create:


a)         a professional (un-armed) peace corps trained in conflict and crises prevention and in national reconstruction and reconciliation, including interventions that are targeted toward women (the major victims of conflicts, and who often bear the burden of social reconstruction).


b)         a civil defense corps specially trained in non-violent resistence techniques and provided with advanced technologies to ensure surveillance of borderse and protection of strategic infrastructures.

Instead of an army, Quebec will create an armed defense corps:


a)         whose sole functions will be defense of our borders,


b)         which cannot serve outside the country’s borders.


Proposition 4.2.3

Impact of conflicts on women and role of women in antiwar action


In regard to the major impact of conflicts on women’s security and on their role in society, a QS government


a)      will denounce militarization that for women entails increased violence, rape, trafficking and sexual exploitation;


b)      will oppose military propaganda that is based on patriarchal, hierarchical and anti-democratic values;


c)      will demand the participation of civil society and the women’s movement in negotiations aimed at settling conflicts;


d)     will aim to promote a larger role for women in the professional peace corps and/or armed defense corps.


4.3 For fair and solidarity-based international trade


Since the late 1980s Canada has signed numerous free-trade agreements, including NAFTA (Canada, USA, Mexico) and the free-trade agreement with the European Union, currently being negotiated, which is based on the same neoliberal basis as NAFTA.


These agreements are not primarily concerned with trade in goods. They are aimed at transforming public services and even culture into commodities just like wheat. They are intended to ensure that laws and regulations in force in our country are no longer a constraint for foreign investment. These agreements, negotiated in the greatest secrecy, therefore weaken the sovereignty of states.


Québec solidaire has previously stated in its electoral undertakings that such accords must cease. International trade must be established on the basis of reciprocity between nation states that ought to protect their internal trade in response to the needs of their people. The element that we add here (4.3.1a) is the preservation of the sovereignty of states that are bound by an agreement.


Three other points should pertain to international agreements:


-          the concerted struggle against tax avoidance;

-          the obligation for multinational or transnational companies to assume everywhere liability for the consequences of their activities on society and the environment;

-          the cancellation of the public debt of poor and dominated countries.


Proposition 4.3.1

Fair and solidarity-based international trade


To promote fair and solidarity-based trade, a QS government:


a)      will propose to replace the existing agreements by new trade agreements based on reciprocal respect that will preserve the sovereignty of the signatory states;


b)      will rely on its policy of international solidarity aimed at actively supporting movements and governments that share its orientations toward democracy and social justice;


c)      will take the necessary steps to exercise effective control over investment to ensure that it benefits the development  of the domestic economy;


d)     will combat tax avoidance and tax evasion together with other countries, in particular by participating in the BEPS project.[3]


e)      will support the cancellation of the public debt of the poor and dominated countries, and will denounce the use of the public debt as a pretext to impose unjust and anti-social policies on the world’s peoples.


Proposition 4.3.2

For Quebec corporate responsibility abroad


A QS government will supervise the activities of Quebec companies abroad, and in particular:


a)      establish a commission to supervise the activities abroad of Quebec companies in such matters as occupational health and safety and environmental protection. This commission will work in partnership with Quebec and foreign agencies engaged in international development and the defense of human rights. Its work will draw strongly on the international law governing human rights and the environment.


b)      will assign this body the following mission:


                    i.            to impose mandatory public dissemination of the social and environmental record of the companies concerned. This balance sheet will follow recognized international standards and will be audited by an independent certified agency.


                  ii.            to recommend prosecution of companies that are suspected of infringing Quebec laws.


                iii.            to impose sanctions against companies that are found guilty.


a)      will require that organizations in the economic sector (cooperatives, firms, etc.) account for all the costs associated with the extraction, production, transformation, distribution and marketing of products and services, in particular in connection with the international exchanges in which these organizations are involved.


[1] North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

[2] North American Aerospace Defense Command.

[3] Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations. Under the inclusive framework, over 100 countries and jurisdictions are collaborating to implement the BEPS measures and tackle BEPS.

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