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Quebec solidaire on Labour Day : 15$ is possible

September 5, 2018
By Chantal Sundaram

Labour Day is not an important political day in Quebec. Quebec unions march on May 1st, historically the international day for workers' rights.

But this Labour Day, which falls during an election campaign in Quebec - with a vote on October 1 - was marked in the Outaouais region by a visit from Quebec solidaire's (QS) two co-spokespeople, Manon Masse and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, to unveil a platform for raising the minimum wage. A QS government, if elected, would raise the minimum from the current $12 to $15 by May 1, 2019.
QS held a press conference in Hull, on the shore of the river that borders directly on Ontario, to make the point: why would you work here for $12 when you can cross the river in 5 minutes and work for $14, and soon $15? And, more importantly, why can't we do the same when there has been no adverse impact on employment in Ontario and only positive effects? 
QS unveiled a plan to provide a fund for small businesses, small farmers and non-profit organizations, to make the leap possible. But they also insisted that the real issue is big business, and that ultimately the leap in the minimum wage would pay for itself through taxpayers who are the least likely to escape through tax havens and whose purchasing power would increase.
That same morning, the PQ suddenly announced it's own intention to raise the minimum wage to $15 - but by the end of a first mandate, so by 2022. The CAQ, the alt-right of Quebec, will be an adversary on this issue, as on others that affect  poor and working class people, even though it claims to speak for those who feel left behind, with no real solution for them. 
This is why QS is using the slogan "Populaires": which adds to the QS name: not just "in solidarity" with big principles, but also proposing ideas that are popular with a population looking for a way to improve their lives.
But it has another meaning: QS is not "populist" but "populaire": not aiming to deceive people by claiming to speak in their name, like the populism of the CAQ, but aiming to truly represent them, to "speak true."
Labour day evening in Hull, more than 150 people packed a bar to greet Manon and Gabriel and the five candidates who will represent the region in the upcoming election. They spoke about the other key issues in the election campaign, concluding with racial inclusion and immigrant's rights. 
Next steps
The reception in the Outaouais region is a small but important indication that QS is starting to build roots outside of Montreal, where it will likely continue to deliver electoral success.  
In the lead-up to the election campaign QS held mass rallies in four cities; now, QS will be holding events throughout Quebec to highlight four of its key election issues: free dental insurance for all (Sept 9), half price public transit (Sept 12) a decent wage for all (Sept 16) and free education (Sept 18, with a planned mobilization on the campuses).


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