Dam social democrats

by chuckofthesea

In Québec, social democratic politics were poisoned for generations by the decision(s) to pursue hydro power over the objections of the Indigenous people whose lands the dam projects destroyed. Hydro Québec was a sacred cornerstone of the Quiet Revolution, that brought Québecois out of rural, priest-ridden colonial poverty & into the modern world — at the expense of the Innu & the James Bay Cree. Pierre Vallières wrote that it wasn’t worth selling the soul of Québec socialism “pour un peu d’électricité.”

The well of West Coast socialism has likewise been poisoned today. That a mere 20 years after Gustafsen Lake the BC NDP could still have managed to earn the support of a moral giant like Grand Chief Stewart Phillip should have been a miracle we’d defend with everything we had. Instead, he’s been pissed away along with who knows how many generations of Indigenous leaders & activists who have no reason to trust the NDP when it says it has changed on sovereignty, on respecting treaty rights, on UNDRIP.

I feel for John Horgan, who is a friend, because the Liberals left him holding a timed dirty bomb — this decision is one of those that could very well cost him the next election, & could just as easily have cost it if he’d gone the other way. The difference is, making the other decision may have lost him out in the short run, but would have established real respect for Indigenous sovereignty, the right to veto projects on their own lands, as an NDP principle. Indigenous peoples might finally have seen a parliamentary party that, if you squinted just so, could almost look like an ally.

Socialism can’t be built on colonialism. Today, the movement for Québec independence — once second only to the black Civil Rights struggle in terms of a movement of an oppressed people in North America that managed, by its energy, to pull the labour movement & politics as a whole to the left — is a withered ethno-nationalist husk; it stands for nothing. The root of that failure was in its inability to build real solidarity with Indigenous peoples. The ramifications of today’s announcement will be tragically with us for decades to come.