And yet, how we engage with the political process and the extent of the CSQ’s involvement come up regularly during meetings of our decision-making bodies. The issue was also raised during the 2015 and 2018 Congress debates.
I think that it’s a matter of how we approach things. Political action can take a number of different shapes and forms that go far beyond supporting a given party. It’s about so much more! And one thing is quite clear: our working conditions are driven by the government’s decisions and policies. And, in this regard, collective bargaining can’t address everything. There is much more to be done.
Political action is another important tool we can use to influence government decisions, to bring our vision, our values and our issues forward. To promote our societal project, in other words.
Two and a half years is a long time!
Though things aren’t quite back to normal yet, our day-to-day lives are steadily inching closer to a new post-pandemic reality. We all want to put the pandemic behind us and look to the future, wouldn’t you agree? And that is exactly what the government is doing!
The pandemic provided them with a perfect excuse to rule like no other government had done before ... or just about. No wonder comparisons with Duplessis follow them around!
They ruled by decrees for two and a half years, all thanks to the state of emergency and its tools. Two and a half years is a long time! Long enough to build a culture and see it take root within the government. In fact, even though the state of emergency has been technically lifted in Québec, the government has provided for some flexibility and powers which allow for its ruling by decree for a little while yet.
In other words, this government managed the state and our public networks the same way it managed the health crisis, i.e. in a hurry. No time to listen, no time for genuine consultation. Just enough to paper over the cracks and patch a few things up.
The government held consultations only when the house started going up in flames. Always in a rush, time and time again. Despite all our efforts and our appeals. And we found solutions, on several occasions.
Social dialogue isn’t a fad or empty words. It can truly work when all parties put their minds to it. The reason I bring it up once more is that social dialogue is in itself a form of political action. A powerful instrument with which to influence government decisions, play our part as a social actor and provide leadership as a central organization.
They are ready...
It won’t come as a surprise if I say that this government will most probably be re-elected. That is not the issue or the strategy of our political involvement campaign.
They are already making decisions based on their next mandate and to lay the required groundwork. Such as the recent announcement of the new responsibilities that Chair of the Conseil du Trésor Sonia Lebel will take on, namely the health and education network negotiations.
That brings us back to the importance of our own position and our focus on the issues we're concerned about and that affect us. Political action means putting the many challenges we deal with, both at work and in our daily lives, front and centre. And that is exactly what we are going to do!
So are we!
You may remember that the CSQ held a two-phase consultation with its members, as outlined in the 2021-2024 action plan adopted during the June 2021 Congress. Members clearly indicated their support for greater political involvement of the CSQ during election periods.
Media releases, lobbying, participation in parliamentary committees, working committees and consultative bodies: the CSQ is already fully engaged in politics on a day-to-day basis.
But in the coming months, we will do even more. And, most importantly, we will also encourage our members, as citizens, to do more.