Quebec's broad party of the left, Québec solidaire (QS), will open a four-day congress on May 19 in Montréal – the 12th congress in its 11-year history. The delegates face a challenging agenda. It includes the final stage of adoption of the party's detailed program, a process begun eight years ago; discussion of possible alliances with other parties and some social movements including a proposed fusion with another pro-independence party, Option nationale; and renewal of the party's top leadership.
Québec solidaire has attracted unusual media attention in recent months in the wake of the February announcement by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the best-known leader of Quebec's massive student strike in 2012, that he had decided to join the party and become its candidate to replace QS leader Françoise David, who resigned in January, as the member of the National Assembly for the riding (constituency) of Gouin in Montréal. Nadeau-Dubois – often referred to as GND – also announced that he would campaign for election at this congress as the party's male co-spokesperson. He is widely expected to win the Gouin by-election now scheduled for May 29.
GND's announcement, accompanied by his sharp attack on Quebec's “political class which for 30 years has betrayed Quebec,” prompted a flood of new membership applications; within a few days the QS membership grew by about 5,000, a 50 per cent increase. An opinion poll at the time credited QS with 16 per cent popular support, only 6 percentage points behind the Parti québécois (PQ) in Montréal.
These were welcome developments for the party, which has failed since its founding to elect more than three MNAs under Quebec's undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system. Also, although QS benefited from the militancy and popular support of the students’ struggle in 2012, gaining 4,000 new members for a time, it has suffered from a relative demobilization of social movement activists since then, although the ecology movement in opposition to climate change appears to be gaining in momentum....