For a period of several months last summer, a mass movement shook the province of Quebec. It forced an election where the victorious Parti Québécois felt compelled to present themselves as being on the left — proposing to cancel the tuition increase, abolishing the hated law 78, as well as other progressive measures. In its first budget since the election, the Marois government went back on many of its promises made during the election campaign. Faced with the hypocrisy of the PQ who had put themselves forward as “the progressive option”, the possibility to form a party that can represent the interests of workers and youth is more important than ever before. For the left-wing party, Quebec solidaire, the potential for success is greater than it has ever been. But, how can Quebec solidaire take advantage of the present situation and build a real alternative for the workers who search for a way to combat the austerity being forced upon them?

Thousands of protesters took part in demonstrations across the country on Dec. 21 under the banner of Idle No More, a grassroots movement dedicated to protecting the environment and Aboriginal treaty rights against new federal legislation. First Nations activists and their supporters mobilized nationwide, with the largest protest on Parliament Hill drawing more than 2,000 people. Solidarity rallies took place around the world — from New Zealand to Los Angeles to the United Kingdom. Some activists also started blocking key roads and railways. In the span of a few weeks, Idle No More has become the most significant social movement in Canada since #Occupy and the Quebec student strike.

Over the past year, there has been an unprecedented interest amongst students across Canada in the fight against rocketing tuition fees. The major factor that has contributed to this growing political awakening among students, other than the unprecedented cost of education and student debt, has been the magnificent example set by the students in Quebec who were able to beat back tuition hikes, resist the attempt by the courts and the cops to repress their movement, and bring down the hated Liberal government of Jean Charest.

Last week the newly elected Parti Québécois government tabled their first budget since taking power. Finance minister Nicolas Marceau vowed to “balance the books” and “cut spending” in what is a clear austerity budget; new expenditures are being increased by the lowest amount in 14 years and almost no new money has been allocated to education spending. The government is also promising to pass a zero-deficit budget for 2013/14. Within an extremely short period since being elected, the PQ has now shown their true colours as a party subservient to Quebec big business, in line with the general austerity plan of the recently ousted Liberal Party.

Every day, new figures and stories come out describing Europe’s decay into virtual anarchy.  Once known for providing its workers with a relatively stable standard of living, one European country after another is pushed into crisis and austerity, provoking social explosions across the continent.  New reports from several leading financial institutions reveal that the European contagion is rapidly spreading across the Atlantic and threatening to overwhelm Canada’s own shaky situation.

A bleak future awaits today's youth as they are being forced to bear the brunt of the capitalist crisis despite having had nothing to do with its creation. Youth are facing challenges today that are unprecedented in history and they are living less stable and secure lives than previous generations. Indeed, youth today will likely never be able to afford the standard of living that their parents and grandparents were able to achieve; owning a home or vehicle is out of the question for a growing percentage of youth entering their adult lives. While record amounts of wealth is being accumulated in private hands, and billions of public dollars are being handed out for bailouts and tax cuts to the banks and corporations who are responsible for the crisis, our generation is expected to live with increasing barriers to accessing post-secondary education and with fewer opportunities for secure employment.

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