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Quebec solidaire will 'update' its program before the 2026 provincial election

Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, left, speaks to delegates at the beginning Quebec Solidaire national council meeting, Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Saguenay as co-spokesperson Christine Labrie, right, applauds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, left, speaks to delegates at the beginning Quebec Solidaire national council meeting, Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Saguenay as co-spokesperson Christine Labrie, right, applauds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
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Jonquière, Que. -

Despite the headwinds of the past few weeks, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois's Solidaire ship managed to sail through the weekend, arriving at port virtually unscathed. The storm was less severe than expected, but procedural debates caused many delays.

Québec solidaire (QS) members meeting at the general convention on Sunday voted to "update" the party's program before the next election in 2026. This means it will be shorter and "free of overly specific political commitments."

It will still have to respect the QS declaration of principles. Several members took to the microphone to complain that the deadline was too short for the exercise. Some wanted to see the program overhauled and tabled, but their proposal was defeated.

The party's platform for the next election campaign will also be limited to a maximum of five to six "electoral issues."

The members also essentially accepted the Saguenay Declaration. These were two conditions that Nadeau-Dubois had put forward to make QS a "party of government" with a "pragmatic" program.

"The UPA is a gas pedal of agricultural destruction."

Members did, however, reject a proposal in the declaration to give up on reforming agricultural unionism. Instead, activists decided to maintain QS' historic position.

Initially, the Saguenay Declaration included a proposal stating that QS "recognizes the role of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) and renounces reforming agricultural unionism."

However, members voted for a related text that reads: "In matters of agriculture, Québec solidaire recognizes the role of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) in protecting producers at various levels, while supporting the fact that a variety of voices are expressed within it."

However, the subject provoked lively debate. Verdun MNA Alejandra Zaga Mendez defended the UPA.

"These people are united in a common front called the UPA, and right now, more than ever, we need to recognize this union and even recognize their monopoly, which gives them greater strength," she said.

Others had a very different view. "The UPA's democratic approach is lamentable. It's a bully ... The UPA is a gas pedal of agricultural destruction in Quebec and represents [nothing at all]," said a QS member who is also a farmer.

Members also voted against a tax on junk food and opposed giving full agricultural powers to the premier of Quebec.

More serene than the day before

All in all, the debates went more smoothly than the day before. On Saturday, a number of members took to the microphones to express their unease or confusion as to the role the Saguenay Declaration should play: was it simply a report, a balance sheet or a policy document?

Members also asserted that some of the proposals in the Saguenay Declaration contradicted the party's program.

All this almost led to a vote that could have had a major impact on the declaration. In the end, the protesting members rallied at the last minute.

QS was plunged into crisis after Émilise Lessard-Therrien resigned just a few months after being elected. In a message explaining the reasons for her departure, she criticized the "small team of professionals tightly knit around" Nadeau-Dubois.

The past few weeks have been punctuated by written exchanges from QS members who either supported or criticized "GND's" approach.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 26, 2024.

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