Quebecers thought they had elected Liberals last spring but they woke up to find ultra-conservatives in power. Since the National Assembly resumed in October, Jean Charests government has tabled no fewer than a dozen bills rolling back social gains made over the last 40 years.
Nothing has been spared: the right to unionize, the Labour Code, child care, training, social assistance, regional economic development, urban amalgamations, labour standards in the textile sector, and more.
Not a day goes by without more bad news. Le Devoir journalist Michel Venne said of the Charest government: Its ideology seeks to reduce the state to a Wal-Mart of public services whose only slogan is the lowest price possible and whose deficiencies and poor quality are known throughout the world.
Since being elected, the Charest government has gone back on campaign promises to leave amalgamated cities untouched and to maintain $5-a-day child care.
And Charest has declared war on the labour movement. Among the amendments hes proposing to the labour code are changes to facilitate wholesale contracting-out of public services.
As well, the government intends to re-engineer the health care sector, for the fourth time in 12 years, re-organizing bargaining units to create five occupational groups in each hospital. Union leaders say this move is designed to make it easier for management to contract out services.
Meanwhile, opposition is growing. Demonstrations have taken place in front of politicians offices and the National Assembly. And plans have been announced for escalating actions in the days ahead.