quebec-student-movement

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10,000 Quebec students clash with police after rejecting tuition increase
February 28, 2013

A tuition-fee compromise by Quebec’s premier couldn’t prevent a violent protest that rekindled memories of last year’s Quebec Spring.

The window-smashing rally of 10,000 people took place despite Pauline Marois’s efforts to appease student hardliners with a bilateral meeting.

The hardliners instead boycotted Marois’s summit and organized a massive demonstration after the premier refused to abolish tuition fees.

As the meeting drew to a close south of downtown, Montreal riot police charged crowds of mask-wearing protesters north of the summit site.

Suspects pelted officers and their horses with rocks, eggs and red paint. Windows were smashed and vehicles were damaged along the rally route and police tackled at least one masked man and led him away in handcuffs.

It was the second straight day of vandalism related to the student movement. Suspects splattered red paint at the offices of several provincial politicians hours before the meeting got underway on Monday morning.

The premier concluded her two-day summit by holding firm on a $70 annual tuition increase and $250 million in cuts to university budgets over two years.

Marois marched with the students when she was opposition leader but has since drawn their ire despite cancelling the previous Liberal government’s seven-year, $1,800 tuition hike.

Before the violent outbreak Tuesday, she suggested the summit that brought together unions, university rectors and moderate students was a success.

"We have done a tremendous job," she told reporters. "We managed to put the fighting behind us and return to dialogue."

Even moderate student groups opposed to Tuesday’s protest gave Marois the thumbs down.

They said they were “extremely disappointed” Marois didn’t maintain a tuition freeze first implemented in 1993.

University principals and rectors are also upset at the budget cuts, warning that student services will suffer.

Quebec students have been willing to create social unrest to make their point.

The previous Liberal government’s decision to hike tuition led to months of protests last year that taxed police services, disrupted Quebec’s economy and made international headlines.

Source

We desperately need this kind of organization in the US. My alma mater is raising tuition & living costs yet again this year & barely any students even know about it.

Edit note: The 3 percent increase is cumulative, so $70 more the first year, but even more the second, and the third, and so on.

I think the Montreal protests are very powerful; it is getting global attention and raises fundamental questions about whether students in Canada have a right to an affordable education. It has been powerful enough to cancel classes and stop business as usual. Sometimes you have to bring the machinery to a halt to make a difference.
—  Judith Butler @ Rabble.ca

Who’s Who of the Quebec Student Movement: Jeanne Reynolds & Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, CLASSE (Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarite syndicale etudiante) student leaders
June 2, 2012

CLASSE spokespersons Jeanne Reynolds and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois have become outspoken revolutionary voices indicative of the Quebec Student Movement. With  red felt squares pinned to their shirts, the student leaders have articulated the demands of the thousands of students, unions, teachers and residents marching throughout the streets of Canada every day. 

On Thursday, student groups demanded a tuition freeze, but were rejected by government officials. Although university tuition in Quebec is the lowest in Canada, many Quebecois fear this is the first step toward an American for-profit education system. The proposed hike is $254 each year for seven years. 

CLASSE called for a massive demonstration in Quebec today. This is the 40th straight day of protests. 

-G.Razo

See thepeoplesrecord.com’s Who’s Who posts for the Occupy Movement.

Bill 78 prevents a group of more than 50 people from protesting without giving advance notice, but what does that have to do with 3 people, one with a camera and 2 with a white sign wearing red squares? It seems that for Grand Prix weekend Park Jean-Drapeau was declared a zone where the charter of rights and freedoms doesn’t apply and where no one can demonstrate their disagreement with the event. Or even just filming two people walking with red squares and the political profiling they are victims of.
Over 1,100 Quebec Teachers Vow to Respect Strike Votes (Media Coop, Mntrl)

Over 1,100 Quebec teachers vow to respect strike votes

BLOG POST posted on August 6, 2012 by Tim McSorley

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.

Grève | Strike

As I wrote a few days ago, the fight against tuition fee increases is awakening from its summer doldrums. Today, Profs contre la hausse - Professors against the hike - launched a new manifesto.

Members of this loosely affiliated organization of teachers opposed to the tuition fee hike have been front and centre for several months now, interupting government committee meetings, visibly participating in protests, and even helping to support picket lines.

Over 1,162 teachers in Quebec, and another 900 outside the province, have signed on to the manifesto already. In which they vow to respect the right of student associations to vote to strike, and denounce the components of Law 12 - the official name of bill 78, which suspended classes for striing students, banned protests within 50 metres of campuses, and requires teachers and other education workers to report actions breaking the law, all under the threat of incredibly stiff fines.

The manifesto reads, in part:

We reaffirm that decisions taken in a democratic way, by associations whose legitimacy is recognized by the law, are themselves legitimate.

We respect the strike vote of the students. We recognize their right to protest at their educational institutions and to interrupt the activities which are carried out there as the only means by which they have bargaining power.

We would not know how to teach in contravention of these principles.

Le Devoir has a piece about today’s press conference here. Full manifesto is below.

For more in-depth coverage of the tuition fee hikes and the fight for the right to prostest in Quebec, check out today’s feature by Stefan Christoff for The Dominion, Red Square Roots: How austerity underpins social crisis and repression in Quebec and beyond.

PROFESSORS AGAINST TUITION HIKE’S MANIFESTO

For the protection of democracy and the right of student protest

We are professors at institutions of higher education. Our job is to open to our students critical horizons that question reality and offer different world views.

We do not see ourselves as mere agents of the reproduction of the social order, and especially as not officers of the repression with which Quebec’s state power has decided to contemptuously attack the student community. The unjust Bill 12 (formerly Bill 78), which criminalizes what were until recently considered social rights and civil liberties, would have Quebec’s professors play these roles.

We denounce this law by which the Quebec government is attempting to create a chain of obedience intended to systematically attack freedom of association, the right to demonstrate and, more broadly, any “concerted action” within educational institutions of higher education (in Quebec : colleges and universities). Now, no one can impede the right of a student to receive instruction. No one may contribute, directly or indirectly, to “slow down, degrade or delay” the resumption or continuation of classes.

"Gatherings" that could disrupt classes are prohibited within a 50 meter radius of buildings. Teacher and student unions have the obligation to ensure strict compliance with these provisions, under penalty of exorbitant fines. The ministry may order the removal of all the resources of the latter, including dues payments. Finally, higher educational institutions must communicate any information the ministry requires under penalty of fines. Under the pretext of protecting the right of access to classes, this incredibly ferocious law thus establishes a mode of governance based on administrative, judicial and police repression of all those who would organize their forces to challenge its principles and its application or to defend any position adopted by a General Assembly, including positions concerning the accessibility of higher education.

We consider it unacceptable that Quebec professors are now forced to be cogs in this Orwellian system. On the one hand, the government tells professors to ignore the collective decisions taken democratically by student assemblies, to teach the students who present themselves in the classroom and to whom these courses are supposedly “due”, and to thereby penalize those who abide by their vote to strike. This is a direct attack on the freedom of political conscience of professors. On the other hand, professors’ academic freedom may be infringed not only at the direction of educational institutions but also by anyone who would denounce these professors for “helping or inducing a person” to contravene this law.

We reject such an abuse of our work. We defend and will always defend an education which silences no debate, an education capable of generating strong convictions and concrete practices.

We refuse to contribute to the production of a world characterised by the war of all against all, by market logic, by mutual surveillance, by informants, self-censorship, and fear. We reject the idea that respecting the contract between an academic institution and a student, legitimizes the violence exercised by the state against collective political rights - rights to associate, to express one’s opinion freely, to make collective decisions, to strike, and to demonstrate.

We reaffirm that decisions taken in a democratic way, by associations whose legitimacy is recognized by the law, are themselves legitimate.

We respect the strike vote of the students. We recognize their right to protest at their educational institutions and to interrupt the activities which are carried out there as the only means by which they have bargaining power.

We would not know how to teach in contravention of these principles.

(Source http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/tim-mcsorley/11987)

quebec student movement needs some 68-esque slogans already

"by stopping the machines together we will demonstrate their weakness"

"be realistic; demand the impossible!" 

"conflict is the origin of everything (heraclitus)"

"a single nonrevolutionary weekend is more bloody than a month of total revolution"

"those who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring to everyday reality have a corpse in their mouth" 

"the most beautiful sculpture is a paving stone thrown at a cops head"

"action must not be a reaction, but a creation."

"actions enables us to overcome divisions and find solutions"

"life is elsewhere"

"beneath the paving stones, the beach…"

"the student’s susceptibility to recruitment as a militant for any cause is a sufficient demonstration of his real impotence."

"what if we burned the Sorbonne?"

"we don’t want to be the watchdogs or servants of capitalism" 

"to call in question the society you “live” in, you must firstbe capable of calling yourself in question."

"there is a policeman inside of your head and He must be destroyed"

"i love you!!! oh, say it with paving stones!!!"

"make love, not war"

"commodities are the opium of the people"

"the cause of all wars, riots and injustices is the existence of property. (st. augustine)"

"the economy is wounded. I hope it dies!" 

"obedience begins with consciousness. consciousness begins with disobedience"

"i have something to say but I don’t know what"

"comrades, stop applauding, the spectacle is everywhere."

"only the truth is revolutionary"

"to hell with boundaries"

"the future will only contain what we put into it now"

"masochism today takes the form of reformism. no re-plastering, the structure is rotten"

"boredom is counter-revolutionary"  

"we want structures serving people, not people serving structures"

"politics is in the streets."

 all power to the fucking-soviets 

In the spring of 2012, a massive student strike in opposition to a tuition hike, rocked the streets of the Montréal for over six months. Protests and militant street actions became part of the daily and nightly reality of this Canadian metropolis. Several times during this tumultuous spring, the numbers in the streets would reach over one hundred thousand. Police routinely clubbed students and their allies, and arrested them by the hundreds. Some were even banned from entering the city. But every time the cops struck, the student movement got bigger and angrier.

This is a story about how the arrogance of a government, underestimated a dedicated group of students, who through long term organizing laid the foundation for some of the largest mass demonstrations in Canada’s history. But it is also a story of how a crews of determined anarchists, educated a new generation of students, in the importance of owning the streets.

In Street Politics 101, subMedia.tv features some of the best footage from what some called “the maple spring.” It also features interviews with students, teachers and anarchists involved in one of the most militant rebellions in Quebec.

Do you feel there’s a new sense of urgency to go after capitalism?
GND: I think the ecological crisis is putting huge pressure on our generation. I feel this sense of urgency, and I think many young people do as well. For the first time in history, we have a future for our children that is worse than what we are currently living, in terms of social justice and environmental issues. So I think this sense of urgency is widespread. Now, the challenge is to share this urgency and educate the population. We have to be honest with ourselves. We need systemic change, but have to remember these changes won’t happen in a day. They will happen progressively. We have to begin to democratize and change the structure of our economy. I think that the majority of the population understands that there is something wrong with how things are being done. That there is not enough equality or social rights. Our objective is to take the initiative and say we are the ones who want to change things. This whole idea of “change” is now the slogan of the right wing. The PQ are a good example of that. We need to take back that slogan.
Quebec students hail their movement’s victories

Quebec Students Hail their Movement’s Victories was originally published on Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 in The Toronto Star

Many mocked us, many vilified us, many told us we would achieve nothing.

But after a wave of student mobilization in Quebec through the spring and summer, we can count our victories: on the first day of the new PQ government’s term, it cancelled a tuition hike and repealed an anti-protest law that curbed basic freedoms of expression and assembly.

If the PQ yielded so quickly to some of our demands, it is because we organized a strike movement whose support was popular and broad, which allowed people of all ages and walks of life to express their grievances about our political and economic system, and which helped defeat the Charest Liberal government.

That might be hard to believe, going by the depictions of us in English Canada: halfwitted hooligans, spoiled brats or frightening extremists.

But if we are guilty of anything, it is of questioning the dogmas of the rich and powerful, who have spent the last decades trying to lower our expectations for what is politically possible.

The purveyors of such dogmas insisted we be quiet and content, because our tuition was already the lowest in Canada. But it remains lowest precisely because we have fought our government every time it tried to raise it.

As with education, the fundamental rights we value today — of abortion, collective bargaining, health care and many more — are not gifts from politicians, but a legacy of the struggles of ordinary people.

The struggle of CLASSE has been not merely to stop the tuition hike, but to campaign for high-quality, public and free university education. This is education as a right accessible to all, not as a commodity available to those with the thickest wallets. This is education dedicated to the common good, serving freethinking and the flourishing of the potential in each person. It is an investment in our generations to come.

It is also within reach. No wonder the Globe and Mail would label us “irrational,” the better to distract the public from our proposal, feasible across Canada, to fund free university education with a tiny tax on the transactions of banks — the same banks that shackle families in debt, while making billions of dollars of profit.

What we raised with such arguments and peaceful, creative protest, the government tried to silence with “emergency” laws, riot squads and tear gas. More than 3,000 have been arrested and are still charged, three times more than during G20 policing debacle in Toronto in 2010.

Such scenarios are possible only in a broken system of democracy that comes up for air once every four years, in which politicians prefer the murmurs of business lobbyists to the voices of those they supposedly represent. Our faith is in direct, participatory democracy, which we practise in assemblies of thousands where every student can give input into the decisions that impact them.

Our commitment to genuine democracy is a reflection of the type of society we seek to build: one that is more equal, not less, and revolves around the needs of people, not corporations.

What we are fighting in Quebec, many are fighting across Canada: the privatization and degradation of public services, cuts to people’s wages and old age pensions, and the free rein corporations have to destroy our environment and fuel climate change. If our rights can be taken from us by throwing our educational system into the marketplace, we can say the same for our hospitals, our water, our forests, and the soil beneath our feet.

This has always been the essence of our strike and our mobilization: a shared, collective vision whose scope lies well beyond student interests. In our campuses, in our workplaces, in cities and villages across our province, people have come together like never before: to talk, to debate, and to imagine a new society with us. And we are making new alliances, overcoming old divisions, all across Canada.

At the upcoming provincial summit on the future of education, the Parti Québécois will aim to increase tuition fees by indexing them to the cost of living, their stated policy. But we think the time has come for free post-secondary education.

This is what we demanded on Saturday, marching as we have on the 22nd of each month since the spring. If we have demonstrated anything in Quebec, it is that a condition for social change is not that people should hunger for it — we know they do. It is that they believe their actions matter.

The social movement of the past year has taught us that police batons and corrupt politicians will not always prevail over the power of ideas. Ours is an age of cynicism, but we are learning that our dreams can be made real.

Camille Robert, right, and Jeanne Reynolds are co-spokespeople of CLASSE (La Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante).


Cacerolazo's Go International...

"MONTREAL — Across Montreal and in other cities in Quebec, protesters came out in a countless number of ‘casserole’ protests against the provincial government.

In some places by the dozen, in others by the hundreds, Groups of people stood on balconies, in parks, and in the streets to bang pots and pans together as a symbol of opposition to Bill 78, the emergency legislation passed last week to limit mass protest and permit students to return to classes..

"Les Casseroles" were heard in Quebec City, Longueuil, St. Jerome and St. Eustache.

"It’s a social revolution in Quebec, we need it," said one protester.

The pot-banging protests originated in 1971 in Chile to oppose food and supply shortages caused by the policies of President Salvador Allende.

They resumed in the 1980s to oppose the military dictatorship of Auguste Pinochet.”

- Source

Videos:

Here (plus an article and photos because Huffpo is good that way)

and

Here (plus an article)

Laval: Student leader Léo Bureau-Blouin wins seat for PQ in Laval-des-Rapides

Parti Québécois Leader Léo Bureau-Blouin waves to supporters after a speech at the Sheraton in Laval, following the announcement of the PQ provincial election victory on Tuesday.

————-

In July, he was the face of Quebec’s defiant student movement.

But on Tuesday, 20-year-old Léo Bureau-Blouin went from anti-establishment figurehead to rising star for the Parti Québécois as he was swept into office in the Laval-des-Rapides riding.

The former Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec president unseated incumbent Alain Paquet in a district that had elected the Liberal MNA three consecutive times. Bureau-Blouin took about 38 per cent of the popular vote.

“This is the biggest honour of my life,” Bureau-Blouin told a boisterous crowd at the Laval Sheraton. “The voters in Laval-des-Rapides have spoken loud and clear and they’ve spoken for change.”

It was one of two crucial seats the PQ nabbed in Laval en route to winning a minority government. Former union leader Suzanne Proulx was elected in the newly created Ste. Rose riding. The Liberals clung to five of seven seats on the island after sweeping the Laval vote in 2008.

Hoping to seize on the wave of unrest that swept through Quebec during the “Printemps Érable,” PQ leader Pauline Marois put her faith in young Bureau-Blouin in the face of highly publicized criticism. The former CEGEP student first came under fire for his political inexperience. Marois came to his defence, rhetorically asking why a 20-year-old could serve in Afghanistan but not run for elected office.

Bureau-Blouin was then maligned by his former allies who accused him of being a careerist and an opportunist. They also rejected his calls for Quebec’s protesting students to abandon the streets and strike a truce with the Liberal government. But after winning his election and becoming the youngest serving MNA in Quebec, Bureau-Blouin reaffirmed his dedication to the student cause.

“(This election) has shown that real change can occur when you mobolize. We’re going to make sure Quebec retains the most accessible education in North America,” he told reporters late Tuesday night. “We’re going to bring back social peace to the streets of Quebec.”

The Coalition Avenir Québec also took a strong run at the southern Laval riding, parachuting star candidate and former Ordre des Ingénieurs president Maud Cohen into the three-way race. As a long-time critic of collusion and bid rigging in the construction industry, Cohen was brought on board to reinforce the CAQ’s anti-corruption message. She placed third in Laval-des-Rapides, falling about 10 percentage points behind Paquet.

“For us this was a win,” she told The Gazette. “We managed to make this campaign not only a referendum on tuition fees but also about corruption in the construction industry and the economy. If you consider that we’re a new party, it’s actually pretty good.”

The Pot is Boiling Over Tonight -

Today I woke up late, and spent nearly 9 hours in bed. 

I finally got out of bed when I heard a bunch of banging, screaming, honking, and stuff. It turns out the striking students in this city organized a city-wide protest (against tuition hikes and student debt) where everyone was invited, at 8:00pm to go outside and bang pots and pans in protest. It has been going on for nearly an hour and a half; and I can still hear it from all over the city.

The noise sounds like a lidded pot of water boiling over (which is kind of apt). It sounds like Canada Day, which is a national holiday, is happening right now there is so much noise! Cars honking, drums beating, pans clanging, people screaming, children shouting, elderly folks dancing, everyone is in on this!

The plan is for it to happen again tomorrow night, and every night at 8:00!

This is pretty amazing, and I’m hoping it gives the students a voice they hadn’t had before. If I didn’t desperately need a clean police record to get my job back in childcare, and didn’t fear getting arrested (new emergency laws make groups of 50+ people illegal, and no face coverings can be worn in the city now) and having to pay money to get out, I would be downtown with my drum and my Dionysus crown, making noise for freedom and breaking through a corrupt local government!

I walked around the block a few times, clanging out noise on a tin bowl and cheering with everyone, so I think He knows I’m down.

Now, I am seeing spots and need to eat.

Io Eleuthereus! Io Bromius!

Io Mainolês! Io Dionysus!


———-

For anyone interested in information about the student protests, visit this link for details.

There has been, as with any uprising, a lot of propaganda and misinformation about the students and protestors and that link is an excellent place to become informed!