In Quebec’s strike, students are the real targets of intimidation

Intimidation is the new mot du jour in the Quebec mediasphere. Education minister François Blais has decried the “intimidation” he was subjected to on Monday when students approached him in a restaurant to protest his government’s policies.

The students, according to the 1625 Foundation (an anti-student-movement organization with established links to the federal Conservative party), are intimidating their fellow students by enforcing the strike mandates voted for by a majority of their peers. Then of course, there is the intimidation and violence being inflicted upon the poor taxpayer. From broken windows at UQAM (never mind, turned out the cops did that), to broken vending machines at UQAM to litter at UQAM, these students are costing us money goddammit!

Get the idea? The students are masked bands of hoodlums hellbent on the destruction of all social order and the looting of your sock drawer. Apart from the far more balanced pages of Le Devoir and sometimes La Presse, that’s the unilateral image being presented to Quebecers.

Little wonder then that a new poll shows support for student strikers has fallen below 30 per cent. But here’s the problem with that image: it’s not accurate.

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Tune into TUSC’s party political broadcast tonight on BBC2 at 5:55, ITV at 6.25pm, BBC1 6.55pm and Channel 4 at 7:55.

Here’s a quick reminder, as Quebec’s Health Minister Barrette has decided to limit access to abortions in the province.

The only tattoo I have is a red square. It symbolized the students strike of 2012 in Quebec, and we started wearing them again since a couple of weeks, as colleges and universities (including mine) are returning on strike against austerity.

Montreal cop points smoke grenade launcher point black at protester who is protesting education cuts (part of the government’s austerity plan. Cop is wearing stickers protesting cuts to his pension. (picture by Maxime Deland) (video)

Canadian police used tear gas and reportedly fired rubber bullets and sound bombs at hundreds of students protesting austerity measures at an anti-capitalist rally in Montreal. Thousands took to the streets on Tuesday to protest sweeping education cuts. (x)

Call it austerity or call it fiscal responsibility, the Quebec government’s overhaul of public spending has become the spark for what could be one of the most turbulent periods in the province’s recent history. […] In the school system, the cuts have translated into reduced course offerings, reduced library and laboratory hours and fewer support workers for students in need. (x)

Germania. La rabbia di Blockupy contro la Bce esplode a Francoforte

Guerriglia a Francoforte dove il movimento contro l’Austerity “Blockupy” ha portato migliaia di persone in piazza per contestare l’inaugurazione della nuova sede della Bce. Si parla di auto delle polizia date alle fiamme, tram, benzinai e negozi assaltati, e di almeno 350 persone arrestate. Eppure l’Ue non sembra minimamente rendersi conto di quanto il malcontento degli europei fermenti, con i media che preferiscono minimizzare a differenza di quanto fatto in altri scenari.  

Se le scene viste a Francoforte si fossero viste a Mosca probabilmente i giornali starebbero parlando di scontri gravissimi e di popolo in rivolta contro la dittatura. Se accade a Francoforte invece, probabilmente, viene derubricato come un fatto di ordine pubblico, come un gruppo di “teppisti” che hanno attentato alla pubblica sicurezza. Eppure a migliaia sono scesi in piazza a Francoforte, in Germania, per contestare aspramente l’inaugurazione della nuova sede della Bce, una istituzione mai come oggi sentita come distante e oppressiva dai cittadini europei, da Atene a Berlino.  Almeno in diecimila hanno deciso di ritrovarsi aderendo all’appello del movimento di Blockupy e ben presto si sono accesi scontri anche molto duri con la polizia terminati con almeno 350 arresti e diverse macchine della polizia date alle fiamme. Gli agenti di sicurezza hanno utilizzato anche gli idranti contro i manifestanti che, stando a quanto riportato dalle cronache, hanno assaltato anche tram e negozi. Difficile gestire la rabbia dei manifestanti che si sono radunati sin dalle prime luci dell’alba tutto intorno al grattacielo che diventerà la nuova sede della Bce. Sin dalle prime ore del giorno sono state create barricate in tutti gli incroci limitrofi, e al termine degli scontri si sono registrati alcuni feriti sia tra i manifestanti che tra gli agenti di polizia. Un vero e proprio scenario di guerriglia urbana che ha obbligato le istituzioni a chiudere una linea della metro e a fermare tutte le linee dei tram. Insomma, si tratta di una vera e propria contestazione in piena regola che però verrà come al solito trattata dai giornali come una questione di ordine pubblico, come un gruppo di teppisti che attacca la città, una vera e propria applicazione del “Doppio Standard” che invece li porta a parteggiare per i “rivoltosi” che si oppongono in altri paesi contro i governi considerati “sgraditi”. Quello che in troppi si rifiutano di comprendere è che il malcontento e il risentimento dei cittadini europei abbandonati dalle istituzioni e soprattutto privi di speranza nel futuro difficilmente si arresterà se le politiche spietate di austerity continueranno, come tutto lascia credere. Sopratutto la guerriglia di Francoforte dovrebbe anche mostrare come anche in Germania, il paese accusato di essere contrario alla fine dell’asuterity, stia germogliando una protesta sociale sempre più capillare e radicale nei confronti di un neoliberismo sempre più dal volto disumano che sta cercando di svuotare di significato le Costituzioni e le sovranità dei singoli paesi, portando anche a una omologazione del pensiero che rischia di diventare sempre più un pensiero unico.


I’m fucking mad.


Photos taken at a warehouse in Grangegorman where 30 people are living, and have created an incredible community, art space and garden. Some have been living there for a year and a half.
Two days ago the police arrived in the early morning in an illegal attempt to evict them. Residents were attacked, beaten, some seriously injured, some trapped in their homes and some trapped outside. They will be returning tomorrow, probably with eviction notices.
In Ireland, it’s more important that empty warehouses be empty than that the space be used creatively. Whatever the right or wrong, the life and the space that has been created here is incredible.

April 2 2015 - During a student protest against austerity measures in Montreal, Canada, a student points out the stickers on the riot cop’s shield, which are protesting against austerity cuts to the police’s pension. This is how he reacts. Cops aren’t workers, they’re scabs. [video]

What would you do to keep your baby from starving? Perhaps the same as Lucy Hill. At the start of October, the 35-year-old mother from Kidderminster was broke. After missing an interview at the jobcentre, her disability benefits had been stopped – which left her, her partner and her toddler of 18 months without anything to live on. So she went to the local Spar and stole a chicken and some soap powder.

Two weeks later, Hill was up before the magistrate. Her police interview noted that she said “sorry to the shop … but had no money … and was in a desperate situation”. She was ordered to pay compensation, a fine, costs and a surcharge: a total of over £200 to be taken off someone who’d only committed a crime because she had no money. Her solicitor John Rogers remembers that the mother’s chief worry was that the social services might  find out and take away her baby.

After running me through the details, Rogers sighs. Cases like this keep coming his way, he says: “They miss an appointment so their benefits are sanctioned [docked or stopped altogether], so they have no money, so they steal.” His local office now handles “at least half a dozen” such cases each month – up from almost nothing a year ago.

He’s just one lawyer in one post-industrial town, describing a national policy: of starving the poor into committing crime. Nothing is accidental about this regime.

What happened tonight

The protest started around 8:15 PM, at park Emilie-Gamelin. The police tolerated the protest, as long as we didn’t break the law in any way. We walked around for maybe 45 minutes, with policemen by our sides, before coming into a halt. The police was blocking our way. We tried to turn around the corner and go in another street, but police cars quickly came in and blocked that street too. We turned around and headed back to where we came from. We walked around and blocked the circulation, walking next to cars while they were honking to show their support. Some drivers got out and filmed us. We kept on walking, until the police made an announcement that the demonstration was now illegal, and people started growning and booing, while helicopters flew nearby. We walked until the police tried to trap us at Place du Canada, which is just like a park. I saw people on the front line turning around and running away from the police, and we all ran across the park to avoid the police. We heard tear gas canisters in the distance. Policemen quickly realized what we were up to and where we were going, so they surrounded us again and threw tear gas. At this point, being only 2 meters away from the cops, I got into a corner store and along with a couple other protesters, we locked ourselves in. When we got out, people were gone, but we could still see helicopters in the sky. I left and took the subway at 9:30, and I have no idea what happened afterwards. I heard people screaming and I saw them running towards something, but that’s about it.
Fairly confident that people have been hurt, but I can’t confirm anything. I definitely saw protesters that had been pepper sprayed. I believe the protest was declared illegal because we blocked the traffic, but yet again, I’m not sure.

Strike day in Montreal

Over 130,000 students on strike for largest protest yet

It’s Thursday, Apr. 2 and in Quebec, the students are revolting. Over 130,000 students are on strike across Quebec today for a major national day of action against austerity in Montreal. “Our services are worth more than your profits” is the slogan of the march, and in addition to students a number of social groups and unions are mobilizing their members, notably the CSN, Quebec’s second largest labour federation.


Anti-austerity marches take over Quebec streets

Thousands of people stormed the streets in Montreal and Quebec City this past weekend to protest against austerity measures proposed by the Quebec national government.

The march was organized by Collectif refusons l'austérité, a group that includes several union and student movements such as L'ASSÉ and Centrale des syndicats du Quebec.

Around 100,000 Montreal protesters descended on the downtown streets, making their way to Place des Festivals from René-Levesque Boulevard.

The anti-austerity movement inspired its own hashtag on Twitter: #manif29nov.

“Austerity is the fruit of [Parli Liberal Quebecois] neoliberalism that doesn’t represent 30 per cent of us,” tweeted Arlette Richer using the #manif29nov hashtag.

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