Elections, a theatre of democracy (Huffington Post)

By: Étienne Boudou-Laforce, Ianik Marcil, Steve E. Fortin, Bianca Longpré; signatories at bottom of post
Originally published on: October 15 2015
Original French text here: http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/etienne-boudou-laforce/election-theatre-democratie_b_8307102.html

With its cardboard stage set, contrived acting and empty issues, federal elections can resemble an interminable production of summer theatre. Thankfully, at the end of the day, the theatricality makes way for handsome and unshakeable democracy. Elections are in fact the people’s calling to vote and choose their own destiny. Is it not a deeply noble thing to see democracy enacted?

Theoretically, the answer is yes, indeed. But maybe you should check with Greece. They elected an anti-austerity party and won a referendum against austerity, and yet their creditors answered back with a categorical “no” and even greater austerity in order to possibly punish them for even thinking they could get away with a referendum. As Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund-Adorno once said, “if voting could change the system, it would be illegal”.  Does this mean that our “less bad system” would be a simulacrum of democracy that is more pernicious than others because it suggests real political consequence? Is Étienne Chouard correct in stating that “the fact of having to designate our masters is a fraudulent imposition. It yields plutocratic results, with the rich leading for the past 200 years”?
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Letter to my mother: why I am striking (Huffington Post)

By Gioia Cazzaniga
Originally published on March 26, 2015
See original French text here: http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/gioia-cazzaniga/lettre-a-ma-mere-pourquoi-je-fais-greve_b_6942712.html

My Dear Mother,

I know you are a bit far from here, from Montreal and the hot spot of the protest. You only have access to mainstream media, to [Education] Minister Blais who threatens students with cancelling the semester and right-wing commentators who are bent on pointing out spelling mistakes instead of listening to the message. Only if you would inform yourself a bit better, you would know we are more than 50 000 on strike, without counting the one-off strike mandates and the votes yet to come. Even medical students will take a day or two to denounce the measures of [Health] Minister Barette. Many unions also have their collective agreements ending next week and for them too, it smells strongly of protest.

It is not a question of illusions, it is not a question that only touches students. It is not like 2012. This time, it is a global political struggle.

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Minister Barrette wants to act quickly (Le Devoir)

By Jocelyne Richer – La Presse canadienne à Québec
Originally published on February 6, 2015
See original French text here: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/sante/431148/projet-de-loi-10-le-ministre-barrette-veut-agir-rapidement

The anticipated adoption of the project of Bill 10 before the end of the day, thanks to a gag [literal translation, meaning to “invoke closure”, a parliamentary procedure limiting debate to force the passing of a law] decreed by the government, is only one of three steps seeking a major transformation in the health network in the coming months.

Before the parliamentary session even begins next Tuesday, MNAs had to present themselves in the chamber early Friday morning as part of the government’s decision to impose a term on the usual procedure to force the immediate adoption of Bill 10, which would abolish the health agencies and reduce the number of establishments in the network from 182 to 33.

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Austerity or Confiscated Democracy (Journal de Montréal Blog)

By Julia Posca
Originally published on January 26 2015
See original French text here: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/01/26/lausterite-ou-la-democratie-confisquee

Source: Photo Archives/Reuters
Photo Archives/Reuters

Austerity is on everyone’s lips since the Liberal’s return to power in Quebec in April 2014. Our current political climate is resonant with the “debt crisis” which has been rocking Europe since the economic and financial crisis of 2008.

Yet fiscal austerity measures on both sides of the Atlantic are not simply a response to the economic crisis. In spite of the extent of austerity’s claim on the political landscape over the past seven years, the imperative of the balanced budget has been around since long before the subprime bubble burst, sweeping the global economy along with it. Austerity is simply the current manifestation of the question of balanced public finances.

One must turn back the clock to the mid-1970s in order to find the first battles waged by governments against public debt (at least in its neoliberal version). In those days, climbing inflation and global unrest put the breaks on economic growth, depleting state coffers. Those who intend to narrow the scope of public spending set their sights on social security spending, considerably on the rise since World War Two. The welfare state is traded in for the commodification of public services and the privatization of various state functions. Neoliberal doctrine is on the up swing, while politicians critical of social security nets are globally brought to power (Tatcher in the United Kingdom, Reagan in the United States, Mulroney in Canada, Bourassa in Quebec) or “installed” (Pinochet in Chile or Videla in Argentina).
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