Trotskyist League Statement on the Racist Attack in Quebec City
The Trotskyist League condemns the barbaric 29 January attack in which six were killed and some 20 injured in a shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. The victims, all Muslims, were gathered for evening prayers when a fascist terrorist named Alexandre Bissonnette broke into the mosque and opened fire on the crowd. The attack came amid a racist campaign against Muslims waged by the bourgeoisie in Canada and Quebec. This poison is frequently transmitted on air by Quebec City’s “trash radio,” which is notorious for spewing a flood of hatred against “Muslims invading Quebec.” The tragedy also comes in an international context marked by the rise of right-wing populism, notably the rise to power of Donald Trump in the United States, elected on the basis of a racist fear campaign against Muslims and Mexicans, as well as the recent successes of the National Front in France.
All these elements certainly inspired the killer, but the fundamental truth is that this horrible event reveals yet again the real nature of this inhumane capitalist society. The slaughter is the product of the inherent racism of the class-divided Canadian and Quebec societies, racism that is necessary to maintain the exploitation of the working class by the bourgeoisie.
The day after the attack, thousands rallied to show their support for the Muslim community. For their part, bourgeois politicians gave proof of their repugnant hypocrisy by adding their voices to the demonstrations of solidarity. Justin Trudeau cynically declared to the House of Commons:
“Last night’s horrible crime against the Muslim community was an act of terror against Canada and against all Canadians. We will cry together. We will defend ourselves and always be with you.”
— La Presse, 30 January
But what really horrified him about this attack is that the image of a multicultural, democratic, anti-racist and anti-Trump Canada has taken a big blow. The bourgeoisie and its representatives don’t give a damn about murdered Muslims.
It’s now more than a decade since the Canadian capitalist state launched its “war on terror,” which targets the Muslim community in particular and has become the pre-text for more general repression. Far from changing anything, Trudeau’s rise to power has only reinforced this repression. Indeed, he has carried out more citizenship revocations in the first ten months of his mandate than occurred in the preceding 27 years!
Under cover of the “war on terror,” the bourgeois state seeks above all to divide sections of the oppressed against one another by pushing the lie that the greatest danger they face comes from the “Islamist threat.” In fact, the biggest terrorists on the planet are the imperialists. The capitalist rulers may have shed some crocodile tears in the wake of this tragedy, but not a day goes by without them massacring innocent people in the Near East, Africa and Afghanistan. Canada has always zealously carried out its role as a junior imperialist partner of the U.S. Its intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Libya in 2011 and its deployment of troops to Iraq have directly contributed to the deaths of thousands of people. Down with the “war on terror”! Canadian, American, coalition troops out of the Near East!
Trudeau immediately came to the defense of “Canadian values,” echoing those who seek to whitewash racism in Canada by claiming that it is worse in Quebec. J.J. McCullough, Anglo-chauvinist columnist at Loonie Politics, wrote of English Canadians:
“They complain about the exaggerated deference the province gets from Ottawa as a ‘distinct society’ and ‘nation-within-a-nation,’ and its various French-supremacist language and assimilation laws, which they blame for creating a place that’s inhospitable, arrogant and, yes, noticeably more racist than the Canadian norm.”
— Washington Post, 1 February
Statistics from 2014 show that Ontario is the province that has by far the highest rate of “hate crimes.” Sikhs in Vancouver, Native people in Winnipeg and blacks in Toronto experience the racist oppression of “multicultural Canada” practically every day of their lives. The fact is that English Canadian capitalist society is just as racist as that in Quebec—but with the addition of the Anglo-chauvinist national oppression of the Québécois that is a foundation stone of Canadian capitalism.
From the start, the politics of “multiculturalism” instituted by the progenitor of the current Trudeau—and always supported by the pro-capitalist NDP social democrats—have had the aim of denying the national rights of Quebec, forcibly contained within Confederation. At the same time, they serve to set Québécois workers and ethnic minorities (and anglophone workers in Quebec) against one another. Ethnic minorities, who constitute an important part of the Québécois proletariat, have no interest in the maintenance of Quebec’s national oppression. The separation of Quebec would in fact be a huge blow against the rapacious Canadian imperialists, exploiters of the English Canadian and Québécois workers and countless others in neocolonial countries (notably in the mining sector). But Quebec independence under capitalism will not resolve the other questions of social oppression that suffocate workers and the oppressed. What is needed is the fight for the working class to seize power from the bourgeoisie, here and throughout the world. Quebec workers and immigrants share the same interests. For a workers republic of Quebec!
The fight for national emancipation, not to speak of socialism, is constantly sabotaged by the Québécois bourgeois nationalists and their lackeys on the left, who are no less to blame for the horrors of January 29. The anti-Muslim poison that they spread sows racial divisions between “old stock” Québécois and immigrants, so it’s not surprising that the far-right rabble has been inspired. The Liberals launched the debate about the “crisis of reasonable accommodation” in 2006. But it was the Parti Québécois and its proposed “Charter of Values” in particular that encouraged the racists to carry out their assaults in broad daylight. Since then, the Liberals have taken up the torch again with their own racist Bill 62.
After the killings in Quebec City, Amir Khadir tried to shift responsibility onto the naughty Americans, saying, “I hold Mr. Trump partly responsible” (Radio-Canada, 29 January), effectively denying the role of his own petty-bourgeois organization, Québec Solidaire. But QS has also added its voice to the racist chorus, proposing its own misnamed “Charter of Secularism,” which upheld the denial of public services to women wearing the niqab. Amir Khadir also supported a motion put forward by the PQ calling for a ban on voting if one’s face is covered. Although the veil is a symbol and an instrument of women’s oppression, it is necessary to oppose the racist ban on the veil and other measures that target Muslims.
Since the bourgeois parties, supported by QS, have put their racist policies to the fore, fascist and far-right organizations such as La Meute, Atalante Québec, Odin’s Soldiers and the Fédération des Québécois de Souche have grown significantly and do not hesitate to show themselves publicly. Only the multiethnic working class has the social power and the objective interest to defend the Muslim minority against the racist rabble that is becoming more prominent. But the absence of the necessary mobilization by the organized labour movement is due to its leaders, who sow illusions in Quebec’s bourgeois state.
However, the most immediate threat to workers and the oppressed remains the racist bourgeois state, and ultimately its forces of repression. On the one hand, the strengthening of “security measures” was not long in coming after the murderous attack, as the police immediately took advantage of the situation to increase their presence around the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec and other centres of Muslim worship in the province. On the other hand, the state is using the events to reinforce its repressive measures against freedom of expression and “thought crimes” among the entire population. Under the pretext of temporarily silencing some far-right fanatics and their spewing on Facebook, these laws against “hate speech” and defamatory libel will ultimately target the workers movement by strengthening the repressive arsenal of the capitalist state.
The bourgeois state is in no way an ally of the Muslim community, as shown by the police surveillance and arbitrary detentions it regularly imposes in the name of “fighting terrorism.” The opposite is true, as shown immediately after the killing by the brutal arrest of Mohamed Belkhadir, who was trying to help victims of the slaughter and was later paraded as a “Muslim terrorist” suspect. Police out of the mosques! The workers movement must defend the Muslim minority!
The interests of the bourgeoisie and its institutions are diametrically opposed to those of the workers, the Muslim minority and the other layers of the oppressed. The multi-ethnic working class needs its own party which will act as a tribune of the people, fighting all forms of oppression under capitalism—be it national oppression or the oppression of immigrants, indigenous peoples, women and all the victims of this barbaric system. The Trotskyist League is dedicated to the construction of such a party, which will lead the working class in a struggle to sweep this system of racist exploitation into the trash can of history.
— Adopted by the Central Committee of the Trotskyist League of Canada, 8 February 2017