Quebec student strike likely over

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Khawaga
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Aug 14 2012 14:46
Quebec student strike likely over

I'm waking up to news from Quebec that most schools have voted to go back to classes. In schools where strike votes used to be 90% for the strike are now split 51-49 in favour of going back to class instead. Seems like the upcoming Qubecoi election might have something to do with it (some schools chose to go back to classes until the election was over). Hopefully strike votes will be cast again after the elections, but currently it seems like the large-scale strikes we've seen the last few months are more or less over.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/votes-piling-up-to-end-student-strikes-in-quebec-1.912181

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Aug 14 2012 18:51

I just wrote this http://www.libcom.org/blog/american-montreal-14082012. I will be writing more in a few days.

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Steven.
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Aug 14 2012 23:02

Some guy on Facebook was saying that 20,000 students have just voted to resume the strike. Anyone got decent info?

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Khawaga
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Aug 14 2012 23:32

There are still schools that have voted to continue the strikes, but the far majority of schools (the CGEPS at least, universities start voting next week) have opted to go back to classes.

Do you know what school it is Steven? UQAM?

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Aug 15 2012 03:34

Or maybe it was this? Saw this on my FB feed.

Quote:
Nos camarades du Vieux-Montréal commencent leur piquetage vendredi à 6 heures du matin. De la solidarité est requise!
Fleur
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Aug 15 2012 12:14

Of all the Cegeps which have voted so far, only 2, St-Laurent and Vieux Montreal have voted to continue the strike and in both cases the votes were very close. There are four more to vote on Thursday, but it is doubtful if they will continue. Vieux Montreal was always the most militant of the Cegeps, but the vote on Monday night was really close.
The universities, UQAM, Concordia, Laval etc are not voting as schools. The student organisations represent individual departments and decisions are made during their general assemblies, which are voting this week and next. So far 7 university departments have voted to stay on strike, none to go back, one voted last night, I don't know what the outcome of the Department of International Studies and Political Sciences was but I suspect they would have voted to continue.
The results are going to be steadily rolling in this week and next.

Fleur
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Aug 15 2012 15:45

St-Laurent and Vieux Montreal are going to be holding new votes, at St-Laurent because of a low turnout at the original one and at Vieux Montreal because there was apparently some confusion during their vote.

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Khawaga
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Aug 15 2012 16:26

Thanks for the updates fleurnoire-et-rouge.

Fleur
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Aug 17 2012 00:55

(I guess this should go here, rather than in news?)

More Cegeps have held their general assemblies and have voted to end the strike or declare an electoral truce ( same thing really - go back to school now and reconsider after the election on September 4th.) So far, out of the 11 Cegeps, all are going back except for St-Laurent and Vieux Montreal, who are holding second GAs tomorrow (17 Aug) to vote again. Some of the colleges are going to be holding a one day strike on August 22nd for the big demo in Montreal.
There's been a handful of university associations which have voted in favour of staying on strike, but the bulk of the universities GAs haven't happened yet.
There's a Crimethinc analysis. I haven't read it, not being in the mood for 30,000 words of Crimethinc today, but there's some decent pictures.
http://www.crimethinc.com/texts/recentfeatures/montreal1.php

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ocelot
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Aug 17 2012 15:59

from that - spot the maoist

andy g
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Aug 17 2012 16:07

eerrrrmm....is it that woman in the background facing towards the left. crafty symbolism or is there an incipient peasant struggle going on over there???? we will never know......

Fleur
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Aug 17 2012 22:00

Cegep Vieux Montreal has just voted to end the strike. They've been in their GA since 9.30 am ( it's now nearly 6pm here.) From what I've been getting on twitter is that the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of going back, but this may just be twitter gossip. One factor in play could be that the school admin had instructed the teachers to mark the students as failing the year if they continued with the strike. This would be on top of the provisions in the special law ( was called Law 78, now called Law 12) that if the strike continued after this forced re-entry this week, then students would lose the whole year, ie any credits, marks earned from their work Sept - Feb, before the strike started.
St-Laurent also voted to end the strike earlier today. So there are no Cegeps taking part in the strike now.

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fingers malone
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Aug 17 2012 22:50

sad

Fleur
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Aug 24 2012 00:41

http://www.bloquonslahausse.com/

Current list of which student associations carrying on with student strike. As of this afternoon, 81 student associations, with 38,883 members. Some students associations are going to take another vote a few days after the election (Sept. 4.)

There was a big demo in Montreal yesterday, usual ambiguity about numbers. Some organisers said 200,000. One TV station called it at 12,000, obviously much bigger. Probably around 100,000 but I'm useless at guessing these things, anything bigger than about 100 and it just looks like loads to me. Looked like loads and loads and loads.
Given the disappointing turn of events recently, with the Cegeps voting to end their strikes, people seemed to be in good spirits. It did however have a feel of an election rally to it to a large extent. There were lots of Quebec Solidaire banners and people were handing out banners with "Je vote pour" and a blank space to fill in and a lot of people put things like "education" and "my future" etc, but there was a lot Amir Kadhir's and Quebec Solidaire's filled in. At one point Amir Khadir walked passed where we were and got a rapturous welcome. There was also a lot of sovereignist sentiment there. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a student and have not been involved in the student protests but it has been disappointing, if predictable, that so much of the energy of the students has been directed into electoral politics. I didn't hear the speeches, being too far away and positioned next to a large group of drummers.
There are still student associations who have not yet voted and it remains to be seen what effect the election outcome will have on it all.
On a personal note, took my kid who had a great time, making lots of noise and joining in with the chants and is now really eager to get back to school to talk about it in the "what I did during the summer" session, which will undoubtably put me back on the "difficult parent" list at the school. Made me promise to take him on the next march.

Fleur
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Aug 28 2012 19:26

The universities have started going back this week, as required under Law 12 (previously Law78.) At UQAM and U de Montreal, students blocked re-entry into classes which have voted to continue with the strike. The U de M called the SPVM to enforce the law, UQAM did not, relying on security guards. There were some arrests under Law 12 ( 9, I believe, not totally sure though) but there were no charges laid and they were released after some hours of detention. The same thing is going on today, and there was something on twitter a couple of hours ago about students being arrested by police for assaulting security guards, but that might just be rumour. The upshot so far is that a number of courses have been suspended by the universities.
This is where Law 12 will be be excessively punitive if enforced, although I have an (entirely unsupportable) hunch that no-one's going to want to enforce it right now, a week before the election. The SPVM has previously stated that they will not arrest anyone under the law (there are other laws which covers everything it covers) without being specifically asked to by the colleges. The fines will run into thousands, for individual students($1000-$5000), for student associations($25,000- $125,000) and also provisions which would ban student associations from university premises, leaving students without representation potentially for years.
I wouldn't say that there is a media blackout as such, but people aren't really very interested. All eyes are on the election next week. A few months back it would have seemed that the student strike/education would have been a major issue in an election, but it really hasn't come up much, mostly corruption (You're dirtier than us, from all parties) and the same old sovereignty-language issues. Quebec Solidaire (the 4th largest and only leftish party), who so many students have given their support to have given support the students, but have seemed to me to put sovereignty first, holding a sovereignty rally etc. I disengaged from electoral politics a long time back and here in Quebec, it could drive me crazy if I let it. I just find it utterly dispiriting how it has contributed to a lot of the steam going out of the student movement. It's a shitty, shitty time for an election to happen.
I veer towards the totally pessimistic about most things, so maybe I'll get a surprise after the election and the movement will somehow re-invogarate itself. I don't know, but it would be nice to be wrong.

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Steven.
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Aug 28 2012 20:54

Thanks so much for the update!

Fleur
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Aug 28 2012 20:59

Just heard that there were 10 people arrested for assault at U de Montreal today.

Fleur
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Aug 29 2012 14:19

Some courses at U de M and UQAM, where there are strike mandates have been suspended. Here's a list of the U de M courses
http://www.fas.umontreal.ca/faculte/communiques/28082012.html
There may be others, not sure which ones at UQAM. Much snottiness has been had in the English media about U de M suspending the video games study courses, obviously by people who do not realise that when they sit down to play games like Assassin's Creed, that they are created and developed in Montreal.
The suspensions are temporary, as are some of the strike mandates and student associations are going back to vote again next week. The uni students are under the same threat of sanctions as the Cegep students were, as in if they don't go back they risk being marked as incomplete or failed and will lose the entire year. Eyes are also on who is going to be in government next week. The Parti Quebecois have promised (promises, promises) if elected the first thing they will do is repeal Law 12. Current polls suggest a PQ minority government, so depending on the make up of the opposition, they may not be able to. Also, the PQ's electoral platform has largely revolved around strengthening the already strict language laws, bolstering Quebec's national identity, expunging the province of religious symbols except catholic ones and moving towards a referendum on separation from Canada. If they get elected and are in a position to actually legislate on their policies, I'm not sure how much of a priority the student strike will be to them. Not the time or place to get into wider Quebec nationalism or language politics though.
Yesterday's arrests were serious. Previously, at least in Montreal, most arrests were under by laws and not the criminal code, but the charges of assaulting the security guards and the police are obviously of a more serious nature.

Fleur
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Aug 29 2012 20:12

Some images from yesterday at U de Montreal
http://unventdunord.blogspot.ca/2012/08/rentree-luniversite-de-montreal-jour-2.html

There was a manifaction today (manifestation = demonstration, manifaction = an action taken, there's probably a really good translation, but I can't think of it right now.) Protesters blockaded the Chamber of Commerce, where Francois Legault, leader of the CAQ - new political party, in second place in the polls- was schmoozing captain of industry and business types, and also the Economic Institute of Montreal and the Chilean consulate ( in support of Chilean students) and the Columbian consulate. It lasted long enough to piss off the right people and then they dispersed and disappeared. Fun fact about here, there are no cctv on the streets, it's illegal under privacy laws and in downtown Mtl there is something called the Underground City ( not a political movement, but a series of interconnected malls accessed through shops and metro stations.) So it's very easy for quite a large crowd to just disappear!
There's a large parking lot, just off the main street in the city centre, and apparently right now there are loads of police vans, cars and buses parked up, loads of police just sitting there. I don't know if they're expecting anything or just enjoying coffee and doughnuts in the sun.

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Aug 30 2012 00:43
fleurnoire-et-rouge wrote:
in downtown Mtl there is something called the Underground City ( not a political movement, but a series of interconnected malls accessed through shops and metro stations.) So it's very easy for quite a large crowd to just disappear!
There's a large parking lot, just off the main street in the city centre, and apparently right now there are loads of police vans, cars and buses parked up, loads of police just sitting there. I don't know if they're expecting anything or just enjoying coffee and doughnuts in the sun.

Not that this has owt to do with anything, but there's a Gary Burns film set in one of those where 4 people have a bet to not walk on the ground level for a month. With that and working in shit jobs, they all go a bit mental. The updates have been interesting, cheers.

Fleur
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Aug 30 2012 02:53

@flaneur
There's a game that people who live in the downtown core play, where people see how long they can go without ever going outside. If you live in an apartment block with access to the metro or has an underground parking garage, you can actually avoid going outdoors for weeks. I have a friend who works at Concordia Uni who until he moved out of downtown, never used to own a winter coat or boots, in a place where it can get to -30. Personally, I hate the place, souless, dehydrated, recycled air, with no natural light. I prefer to pile on the layers and get outside.

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Aug 30 2012 10:34

Yeah, that's what they're doing in Waydowntown. Whoever wins collects everyone's paycheque for the month. They go from home to work because their office is at the top of the mall, and they say the exact same things as you. They end up trying to sneak out to get some fresh air.

Fleur
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Sep 4 2012 02:05

The election is tomorrow, 4th Sept, and there's a whole bunch of new votes scheduled from 5th Sept on, including some Cegeps who voted to hold an electoral truce rather than a definitive end to their strikes. Tbh, I have no idea who is out and who is not at the moment. The night demo on Friday was broken up with violence from the SPVM. There's a big one out tonight, people wanting to give Charest a send off.
Anyway, it is very likely that it will be the PQ who will form the next government. Actually, the PQ polarises people so much, I don't know how much people (other than students) are going to be thinking about tuition fees.
A little bit of Quebec politics for the uninitiated.
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/sep2012/part-s01.shtml
A bit simplified maybe.

Fleur
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Sep 5 2012 18:36

Parti Quebecois were elected with a minority government, just four more seats than the Liberals. In the end there was only less than one percentage point between the PQ and the Liberals, which goes to show how inaccurate the opinion polls are, which had the Liberals trailing in 3rd place all the way through.
The PQ have announced that they will repeal Law 12 and repeal the tuition hikes, so it very much looks like the student strike is over.
And someone tried to shoot Pauline Marois, the new Premier last night, killing one person and wounding another. I'd like to point out that politics raises passions in Quebec, but generally people don't shoot each other over it.

Fleur
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Sep 5 2012 19:19

Just a quick thought, it seems likely that the remaining student associations will vote to go back, a couple have votes have gone that way already. That said, something really astonishing and inspiring happened here in Quebec this year. It may have started off as a dispute over tuition hikes but it grew to include all sorts of other issues, environmental issues around fracking, oil exploration, native rights and land issues, social housing, immigrant rights, workers rights. Neighbourhoods took inspiration from the carres rouges and started holding their own general assemblies organising around local issues and when the government sicced the SPVM on them with tear gas, batons and rubber bullets, more people joined them. I'm not saying that there was never a strong opposition to the students and the corporate media behaved like the assholes they always are, but I think where a lot of people will see the repeal of the hikes and Law 12 as the victory maybe some people will see the the students ability to organise and mobilise so well, on a direct democracy model, as something which was really important and perhaps something will come from that.
There you go, a very rare moment of optimism from me.

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Sep 6 2012 04:10

Thx fleurnoire for everything this year!

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fingers malone
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Sep 6 2012 07:50

Yeah, thanks for all the reports mate.

Fleur
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Sep 6 2012 20:38

First, you're welcome. Second, it aint over til it's over, (clunky google translate version) CLASSE doesn't look like they're planning on giving this government an easy ride.
[url]http://tinyurl.com/8es24je [/url]

edit: better headline translation would be CLASSE reveals their demands.

wojtek
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Sep 7 2012 00:41

Yeah, big deal, the NUS have the most badass lacklustre slogan going (Educate. Employ. Empower.) SO TAKE THAT CLASSE!

Fleur
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Sep 7 2012 03:01

Hey, don't knock the NUS. I once sat through a 4 hour NUS meeting working on the phrasing of a strongly worded letter condemning apartheid, which I am sure was pivotal in transforming South Africa into the egalitarian paradise it is today!

Fleur
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Nov 22 2012 16:44

Resurrecting an old thread, but I thought you might be interested to know that there are 55,000 cegep students on strike in Montreal this week, including Vanier College, which is an anglo cegep and wasn't part of the student strike earlier this year, as part of the international movement for free education and also in support of all the people who were arrested during the student strike. There's a ASSE protest march planned for this afternoon (CLASSE has been officially disbanded.) It's expected to be reasonably big, large banners appeared on bridges overnight.
Earlier in this month Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (former CLASSE spokesperson) was found guilty of contempt of court, the judge deciding that he was guilty of encouraging striking students to ignore court orders preventing them from blockading classes. He's awaiting sentencing. Theoretically he could face up to a year's jail time and a $50,000 fine, although it's a bit unlikely that he'll get the maximum sentence. I think his lawyer's asked for community service. Ironically, the student who filed the case against him in the first place dropped out of college because he couldn't afford to pay the tuition fees.