Street Politics And The Quebec Student Movement

A short dissection of the great success recently achieved by the student protest movement in Quebec:

For over 4 months, students and their allies, took over the streets of Montreal every day, to protest a tuition hike imposed by the liberal party in Quebec.

On September 21st, the newly elected Premier of Quebec scrapped the tuition hike and repealed a controversial law that effectively banned public demonstrations.

While this is being touted as a victory by many in the student movement, one element that made this success possible is already being overshadowed. How the the movement’s militant street politics transformed the student strike from a single issue campaign to an uncompromising social insurrection.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Thanks for the reminder, Disinfo.  It doesn’t seem to have all gone to Hell yet.

    Though there are still the apparently desultory riots going on in France, Spain and Greece.  Not to mention the ongoing meatgrinder in Syria whilst bone-heads in Pakistan declare bounties on imbeciles in furtherance of some Medieval vendetta.

  • kowalityjesus

    Got it; less Gandhi, more Robespierre.

    • Jin The Ninja

      i know it must be difficult to understand, but the context of french-canadians is very different than continental french people. it’s less robespierre, more honore jaxon meets emma goldman. i don’t really understand the “less gandhi” part though, do you know anything about quebec, or the student movement? no, you don’t. because if you did, you’d know about the old people who banged pots and pans all night long for weeks in support of the students. the mums, dads and grandparents, labour unions and immigrants who marched in solidarity with the students. the anti-colonial movement in India (independence) is parallel but not the same by definition to the quebec sovereignty movement. and Gandhi did not accomplish independence by himself, he was the sole figurehead- there is quite a big difference.

      • kowalityjesus

        I think the French revolutionary spirit is alive and well in Quebec, otherwise why would they be on the brink of seceding from a national entity royal to the English crown?  It is quite circumspect.

        My comment comes from the fact that the students and protesters were not sitting down and taking beatings so much as pushing back and flipping cars.  It is of course just a soundbyte.  I think if the Montreal police had G8 riot gear and administrators, there would be a different situation on the ground for the Quebecois, but the stakes are not really that high.  Still I agree with Mr McGonagle, any insurrection is a sign of a healthy electorate. 

      • kowalityjesus

        I think the French revolutionary spirit is alive and well in Quebec, otherwise why would they be on the brink of seceding from a national entity royal to the English crown?  It is quite circumspect.

        My comment comes from the fact that the students and protesters were not sitting down and taking beatings so much as pushing back and flipping cars.  It is of course just a soundbyte.  I think if the Montreal police had G8 riot gear and administrators, there would be a different situation on the ground for the Quebecois, but the stakes are not really that high.  Still I agree with Mr McGonagle, any insurrection is a sign of a healthy electorate. 

      • kowalityjesus

        I think the French revolutionary spirit is alive and well in Quebec, otherwise why would they be on the brink of seceding from a national entity royal to the English crown?  It is quite circumspect.

        My comment comes from the fact that the students and protesters were not sitting down and taking beatings so much as pushing back and flipping cars.  It is of course just a soundbyte.  I think if the Montreal police had G8 riot gear and administrators, there would be a different situation on the ground for the Quebecois, but the stakes are not really that high.  Still I agree with Mr McGonagle, any insurrection is a sign of a healthy electorate. 

      • Liam_McGonagle

        I spent some time in Montreal as a consultant, and based on that admittedly very limited and skewed experience, I get the picture that a plurality of Quebecois see themselves as almost a separate race. 

        I got the impression that a good chunk of them, maybe 30% to 40%, or something like that, descend from a handful of 1600′s pioneers, with the odd ancestor coming in later.  In that way they’re much more “North American” than the typical U.S. American, whose roots typically don’t go significantly back before 1850 here.

        I think I tired people out early trying to identify affinities to France or particular regions of France.  Those settlers were mostly very humble people, from all over the place, with no particularly important concentrations of geographic origin.  Early governors seem not to have been too competent or diligent, and I get the feeling locals didn’t necessarily hold a very sentimental very of rule by France.

        I get the feeling that there’s a thread of extreme cynicism and self-pity in the Quebecois psyche.  First their ancestors, probably the scum of France, are brought over to suffer and toil in some of the most inhospitable conditions on earth to benefit stupid and incompetent French plutocrats.  Then they’re turned over, with not much of a fight, to the opportunistic, land-jobbing jackals of the British Empire, who take the occassion to ethnically cleanse them from those bits of Canada they find profitable.  The only institution they had that they might use to resist is the equally stupid, brutal and incompetent Catholic Church.

        They remind me a bit of the Irish, actually.  An almost racist self-concept of themselves as a people apart, with a strong egalitarian streak but with some regrettably pugilistic, authoritarian and anti-intellectual tendencies.

        Well, maybe that’s an archaic layer of Quebecois society.  I know Montreal is much more multicultural than any U.S. city I’ve been in, with thriving ethnic quarters and media in a plethora of languages other than English or French.  But I do get the sense that it is the most central core of Quebecois identity.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    It seems that the only vote politicians really pay attention to is violent protest.
    Maybe because they use violence to enforce freedom.

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