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Canada Independence takes centre stage at Québec solidaire congress

23:15  16 november  2019
23:15  16 november  2019 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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With an agenda heavy on independence and transitioning toward a green economy, Québec solidaire welcomed roughly 600 members to its 15th annual policy convention over the weekend to debate party priorities.

Quebec Solidaire 's congress in Longueuil put sovereignty and the environment at the centre of discussions Nov. The theme of the conference is " Take power, transform Quebec ." The political party is trying to distinguish itself from the Parti Quebecois (PQ) by voting on specific measures to make

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois holding a phone© Dave Sidaway

With an agenda heavy on independence and transitioning toward a green economy, Québec solidaire welcomed roughly 600 members to its 15th annual policy convention over the weekend to debate party priorities.

Under the heading “Taking power, transforming the province,” Saturday morning’s main topics at CEGEP Édouard Montpetit in Longueuil included sessions on how a transition to separation would work and whether Quebec should create its own army once it becomes a country.

If voted into power in 2022, party co-spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said the party would immediately open a constituent assembly to create a new constitution for an independent Quebec that would be subject to a popular referendum. Even prior to independence, the party would seek greater powers, including diverting taxes paid to the federal government directly into Quebec coffers.

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Asked whether the party, which garnered support from voters in the last elections drawn to its left-leaning policies and stance on climate change, risked alienating federalists and hurting the party’s political aspirations by emphasizing independance, Nadeau-Dubois said the party will attempt to convert non-separatists with rational arguments.

“Come, debate, and we will convince you that at Québec solidaire, our vision for a new society is the best one, the most clear, it’s the one that can transform Quebec.” He noted, however, that he had not encountered any federalists within the party to date.

Separation is the only option that will give Quebec the tools it needs to transition away from Canada’s oil-based economy, fellow co-spokesperson Manon Massé said. The “climate emergency” now underway will convince Quebecers to opt for independence, after decades of unsuccessful attempts. The party is open to members of all political orientations, Massé said, but they must be aware that “if you vote for Québec solidaire, you vote for a party that will push for independence in its first mandate.”

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Québec solidaire is the only party that has been clear and consistent from the start about its sovereignist ambitions and how to attain them, Nadeau-Dubois said. He made a point of singling out the Parti Québécois, saying his party presents a clearer portrait of how sovereignty will play out than the PQ ever has. He denied his party was advancing “radical” ideas, saying its willingness to discuss issues like a sovereign military, or including indigenous groups in its separation debates shows it has the courage to openly debate its policies.

Asked whether the party would allow indigenous groups to opt out of separation, or to declare unilateral separation, Nadeau-Dubois said “not necessarily — we want to build an alliance with the First Nations.”

The party won 10 out of 125 seats in the 2018 elections .

Contrary to other parties, Québec solidaire has a vision of Quebec identity “that is inclusive of everyone,” MNA Sol Zanetti said, taking at dig at the ruling Coalition Avenir Québec.

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Although Quebec solidaire only holds two seats in the Quebec legislature, polls suggest the party’s popularity has climbed in recent weeks. Quebec solidaire could steal away votes from the party’s left-leaning voters in the April 7 election. David has argued the PQ has shifted its policies to the right since

“When it’s acknowledged that we are all one people, then it’s easy to see that we have a common, collective interest to protect the earth and the environment and create a better, greener economy, so we need the means to do it.”

The party pledged to make large-scale polluters and the rich pay for its transition to a greener economy.

“Suncor, Énergir (Gaz Metro), Valero, McInnis Cement, to name a few, will have to take out their chequebooks to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions,” MNA Ruba Ghazal said. “The free passes of the CAQ government will be finished. Québec solidaire will apply the principle of polluter pays,” as opposed to passing on the expenses to the most vulnerable in society. The party still has to work out the details of how it would tax the rich without affecting the poor, party officials said.

MNA Catherine Dorion, who dominated headlines last week after she was barred from the National Assembly for wearing a hooded sweatshirt , did not attend the conference. Party leaders said she was supporting candidates running in a future byelection in the Quebec City riding of Jean-Talon, a move that had been planned weeks ago. She addressed party members through a video presentation Friday evening.

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