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Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 1488
September 25, 2017

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Quebec in Solidarity with Catalonia

Prison vs. Ballot Boxes in Spain:
A Toxic Cocktail in a Democracy

(Signatories listed at conclusion)

As democrats, we feel an obligation to protest strongly to the government of Mariano Rajoy. After having deployed in 2010 the arsenal of the Constitutional Court to block an agreement that granted further autonomy to Catalonia within Spain, this government is now working to block the electoral process of the Catalan people. Over and above the right of peoples to self-determination, recognized in the United Nations Charter, it is democracy itself that is now being battered.

Catalonia Referendum

This is intolerable. It is intolerable to turn our heads and leave to their fate the Catalan people, denying them in the eyes of the entire world the right to vote and declare where they stand on their political future. It is intolerable as well to see a country like Spain, which claims to be a democracy, threaten to prosecute, even imprison, mayors and members of the Catalan government on the sole ground that they are organizing or collaborating in the organization of a referendum. Prison against ballot boxes is a toxic cocktail in a democracy.

Spain is hiding behind the decision of the Constitutional Court, which is now claiming that the referendum fervently demanded by the Catalan people and decided by their Parliament is illegal, when it is the Spanish government that itself solicited this opinion. We wish to remind the Rajoy government that holding a referendum is, in the first place, a political decision that could perfectly well have been agreed with the Catalan Generalitat, as was done in similar circumstances in 2014 between the United Kingdom and Scotland. There is no future in trying to prohibit to a people the right to express themselves on their political status.

To Express Our Solidarity

The Catalan people are conducting an exemplary battle in defense of this “right to decide,” which has many times led them to take to the streets peacefully. They are not alone in this struggle. The Québécois have twice managed to vote on their political future, in 1980 and in 1995, notwithstanding the arsenal deployed by the federal government: violation of the rules of referendum participation, application to the Supreme Court to rule on Quebec's right to secession, adoption of the Clarity Act, and more recently a court challenge of Law 99 adopted by the National Assembly. Today it is the turn of the Quebec people to express their solidarity with the Catalan population in its legitimate right to declare itself democratically on its political status.

We call on the Spanish government to cease adding to the mess for which everyone, including Spain, will pay the price. Its intransigence and its authoritarian drift have already done a disservice to its cause, as many Catalans have now left behind the autonomist nationalism they have practiced historically in order to embrace the cause of independence. The Spanish government must put an end to the escalation by forthwith renouncing the heavy-handedness, the antidemocratic maneuvers and the threat to withdraw its current autonomous status from Catalonia.

Mr. Rajoy's government has overstepped the mark not only by trying to confiscate election materials, but by going so far as to seize the leaflets of the yes camp. It doing so, it offends against freedom of expression, devitalizing and undermining democracy.

Finally, the atmosphere of threats and intimidation currently prevailing in Catalonia is unhealthy and dishonours Spain and the efforts of the international community to base the functioning of our political institutions on values of democracy, peace and respect for people's rights.

It is up to the Catalan people to decide alone and in full freedom their political future, and we, faced with so many atrocities, must be numerous in expressing our solidarity with them and coming out in defense of democracy. •


  • Stéphane Bergeron, porte-parole de l'opposition officielle en matière de relations internationales et député de Verchères
  • Jason Brochu-Valcourt, vice-président des OUI Québec
  • Serge Cadieux, secrétaire général de la FTQ
  • Claudette Carbonneau, présidente des OUI Québec
  • Véronique De Sève, vice-présidente de la CSN
  • Martine Desjardins, Mouvement national des Québécoises et Québécois
  • Robert Laplante, directeur de L'Action nationale
  • Maxime Laporte, président de la Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal et du Réseau Cap sur l'indépendance
  • Gabrielle Lemieux, présidente du Parti québécois
  • Manon Massé, co-porte-parole de Québec solidaire et députée de Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques
  • Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-porte-parole de Québec solidaire et député de Gouin
  • Martine Ouellet, chef du Bloc québécois et députée de Vachon
  • Danic Parenteau, professeur au Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean
  • Sol Zanetti, chef d'Option nationale

This was first published by Le Devoir, 21 September 2017. Translated by Richard Fidler.

Related Reading


#3 Carles Muntaner 2017-09-25 12:58 EST
Solidarite' du Que'bec avec la Catalogne
Chères soeurs et frères Québécois

Je vous vous remercie pour votre solidarité avec le peuple Catalan, nous souffrons un état et un gouvernement ou le fascisme n'a jamais disparu, malgré la propagande d'une transition soi-disant "modèle". Le monde a pu contempler la dernière semaine, le grotesque nature de ce mythe la semaine dernière. C'est pou ça que votre solidarité est tellement importante ces jours-ci.

Carles Muntaner
Université de Toronto et
Membre du groupe de Sante de la CUP (Candidatures d'Unitat Popular)

#2 John Peate 2017-09-25 10:03 EST
This article is an example of the causes of my break with the NDP and Canadian Socialism. Quebec is a Province of Canada: it is not a national entity. It does not have the right of self-determination.

Quebec was an area of Canada where there were two entities living side by side until one achieved significant majority status and used it to launch an ethnic cleansing programme through linguistic terrorism. The Franch society is not and never was a significant territorial entity. It was a small body of people confined to a limited area that was allowed to retain its separate language and culture by the victorious British.

Allowed to possess equal status with the British who actually first explored and settled most of the territory that was alloted to the Province.

I am more than tired of this support for the potential destruction of Canada and for the removal of the Rights of Canadian citizenship from more than a million English speaking Canadians in Quebec.

#1 Paul Hudson 2017-09-25 05:49 EST
Catalan's quest for independence
I was surprised at the somewhat intemperate tone of the Quebec-based signatories to the letter (on Catalonians quest for independence from the rest of Spain) in issue 1488 of "The Bulletin".

First, let us all concede that, probably far more than other region of Spain, Catalonia suffered a lot under Franco, and that Franco used extra-judicial and torturous means to impose his dictatorship. There are doubtless still thousands of Catalonians who not only remember those days and, if they lost relatives and friends under the Franco regime, those memories will be indelibly impressed in to their brain-cells and. in many cases. will (understandably) feel very bitter.

I have a Catalonian friend (she is about 30 years old) who is well aware of all history and I think that this the prrimary reason for her support for Catalonians pressing for a (peaceful) transition to Catalonian independence.

Notwithstanding the various degrees of corruption in various parts of Spain---which country is not so tainted?---Spain does have proper legal system.
I(Like all other legal systems, it has various flaws and inefficiencies in its modus operandi. Thus, to use phrases (which the Qubecois signatories have employed) to allege that the Spanish government is "hiding behind the decision of the Constitutional Court" is just a disguised way of saying that the Court has made a decision that independence-seeking Catalonians don't like. (About fifty per cent of litigants in courts in democratic countries are disappointed with judicial decisions! )

I would like to suggest that the major motive for the quest for independence for Catalan (which, remember, is the richest region of Spain) is simply that it doesn't like any of the tax-revenues collected in Catalonia being re-distributed to poorer regions. The same motive lies behind the policy of the Northern league in Italy and the 'London First" movement/campaign in Britain.

In summary, the basic motive of all three of the aforementioned autonomy-seeking movements seems to be that they all want that to hang onto their money and to spend it solely on themselves rather than in poorer regions. (Incidentally, there is plenty of evidence to indicate very strong----one can read up on this in various blogs and in the electronic news bulletin "Social Europe", without making the effort of going to university libraries to consult learned economics journals---that policies that promote equality in the distribution of income induce stronger economic growth the would otherwise be the case.)

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