The thing is, you must remember how the newspapers are demonizing the students; there have been known incidents of agents provocateurs from the police who are stirring up violence, as well as a disaffected fringe element using the strike to cause trouble — but the students have been extremely organized and very peaceful in the face of brutal police force. It all began about 4 months ago, when Quebec announced a tuition rise. It quickly escalated because the students understood that if they give in to this, eventually everything will become more and more privatised, as in the U.S., and their quality of life will continue to go down as jobs and opportunities go only to the richest.
So this strike really represents a commitment to Quebec values, to freedom and liberty and the right to protest. The students are really making me proud (they’ve been out every night for a month, despite absurdly proscriptive new laws), and eventually I do believe the government — which has behaved like an intransigent ass in the person of Charet — will have to begin negotiating in a realistic way (so far they’ve handed down pompous and insulting proposals that are more provocative than serious).
The most important thing is that, as good a job as the student leaders have done until now, the unions are taking over the strike and launching legal challenges to the new laws and taking on the negotiations with their own, much more sophisticated representatives. That’ll teach ’em to mess with les gens! The students know they are going to be disenfranchised by oil billionaires if they don’t preserve their place in society — there’s nothing evil about that. They call the students ‘terrorists’ ‘thugs’ ‘criminals’ — but they are themselves the criminals, trying to steal the future from citizens –and popular opinion is with the students. Don’t believe the trolls on every newspaper, or the fake polls; everyone knows this battle must be won.
22 May 2012 Niki Lambros, Montreal, Quebec
Niki Lambros, graduate Bard College ’83, ex-pat Manhattanite since ’86. She covered the northern hemisphere in her travels (mostly as a Greek Orthodox nun, but no need to go into too many details about that!), MA theol at U Cambridge, citizen of Canada (resident since ’03). And now, a protesting student of Concordia.
Thanks to Babette Babich, Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University, for sending this on. You can find Babette’s website here. Thanks To Tracy Strong, Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego, for kindly translating from the original French. Likewise thanks to Bettina Bergo, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Montreal, for completing this long chain of mediation.
Categories: Higher Education