On Wednesday December 9th, over 400,000 public sector workers organized in the Common Front staged a massive 24-hour strike. All over the province, public buildings were shut down by picketers and mass demonstrations were held. Jacques Letourneau, the president of the CSN called this the biggest public sector strike since the revolutionary general strike of 1972. He stated that “There were 210,000 on strike at the same time then and today there are more than 400,000.” The working class is flexing its muscles in Quebec, posing a real challenge to the austerity agenda of the Couillard government.

Canadians have voted for change and rejected the austerity of the Harper Conservatives. After a decade in office and a historically long campaign, the Conservative era of cuts and division is over. However, Canada’s labour party, the New Democrats, did not capitalize on this anti-austerity mood.

Millions of workers and youth are looking for a way to overthrow the Harper Conservatives. After almost 10 years in power, the Tories are being dragged down by corruption, secrecy, vindictiveness and now they are presiding over a new recession. The key question is: how can we get rid of this capitalist government?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has reacted with deafening silence to the release of the summary report and findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) on June 2, which called the Indian residential school system an act of “cultural genocide.” Appearing at a closing ceremony in Rideau Hall, Harper did not utter a word about the commission or its 94 recommendations, and since then has only continued to distance himself from the report. His indifference to the catastrophic impact of residential schools reflects the real priorities of the federal government and its continued unwillingness to address the suffering of indigenous peoples.

The momentum and élan that was built up amongst students and organized workers for a showdown with the Liberal government heading into the spring of 2015 in Quebec has dissipated. Workers and youth who were excited with the possibility of fighting back will have to wait until the fall. A feeling of disappointment hangs in the air as everyone is asking “what happened to the Quebecois spring?”

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