Quebec protests reach rowdy new level (with updates in comments)

Quebec protests reach rowdy new level (with updates in comments)

Students in Quebec have been on strike since February. They have been upset about Premier Jean Charest's plan to add $1,625 to the annual cost of post-secondary education by 2016. But during Friday's confrontations, protesters signaled that the unrest was about more than university fees — it was about the general direction of the province.

From the Metro

MONTREAL – A spring of discontent in Quebec characterized by images of red-clad student protesters took on a darker tone Friday as downtown streets were disrupted by scenes of increasingly intense civil unrest.

Demonstrators hurled projectiles from rocks to flower pots in Montreal, committing vandalism outdoors and interrupting different political events indoors. Some vandals even tossed rocks from an overpass onto a busy downtown expressway, police said.

Riot police fought back by swinging batons and firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

There were no reports of any injuries on the expressway, though at least six people were slightly hurt — including four police officers — in a long day of demonstrations.

Provincial police were called in as local officers struggled to handle crowds that disrupted two separate events, including one featuring Premier Jean Charest and, to a lesser extent, one involving federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

There had already been warnings that some students saw their daily protests as more than a fight against tuition increases. Some had taken to referring to the demonstrations as Quebec’s “Maple Spring,” in a rhetorical nod to broader protest movements elsewhere in the world.

That point was repeatedly driven home Friday by protesters who signalled that the unrest was about more than university fees — it was about the general direction of the province.

“It’s not just the tuition increase,” said Alexis Remartini, 18, who took a 60-kilometre bus trip from St-Hyacinthe to attend the protest.

“The movement has grown to include other things we don’t agree with.”

Friday’s most chaotic scene unfolded at a high-profile Charest event, as projectiles and tear gas rained on what was supposed to be the premier’s political parade.

The symposium on the premier’s signature northern-development plan was to have served, some pundits speculated, as a springboard into a provincial election. No vote date has been set.

Charest’s lunchtime speech on his Plan Nord was delayed by 45 minutes after protesters managed to bust into the Palais des congres convention centre.

Protesters made it within a flight of stairs of where the luncheon was being held. They were met with a line of riot police, who eventually removed them from the building.

The premier made it clear he had no intention of backing down from his tuition hikes, or from his northern-development plans.

Charest even joked about the protesters during his speech: “Maybe those knocking on the door this morning, we can offer them jobs,” he said, to laughter. “In the north, if possible.”

Outside, there were scenes of virtual anarchy.

While some protesters hurled objects and built barricades in the street with construction materials they’d found, police fought them off — at one point firing chemical irritants right into one young man at nearly point-blank range.

Seventeen people were arrested as police announced over a loudspeaker that the protest was being declared an illegal assembly.

Demonstrators left a scene of destruction in their wake as they weaved through the downtown streets, backing up traffic. Garbage cans were overturned and trash strewn about. At least three police cars had their back window smashed, and a window at a main entrance to the convention centre was also broken.

Nicolas Moran, 21-year-old law student at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, was one of the students who had earlier managed to get into the building.

He had a gash on his forehead and blood on his shirt.

“I wasn’t doing anything violent,” he said. “A police officer hit me over the head… But I doubt the education minister will denounce violence from police.”

Well behind schedule, Charest finally began a speech that some had expected might serve as a precursor to an election, which the premier must call by late next year.

Charest earned a standing ovation as he walked on stage.

After thanking the crowd for its patience, the premier quickly slipped into his prepared text and described northern development as an inter-generational project deeply embedded in Quebecers’ “DNA,” sharing his own family history with the north.

He said the plan, which focuses on mining and energy production, would help create thousands of new jobs and “move Quebec forward.”

Speaking with reporters afterward, Charest insisted he will not back down on $325-a-year tuition hikes that will raise fees 75 per cent over five years. Even with the increase, Quebec would still have among the lowest tuition rates in the country.

While police said Friday’s worst vandalism was not necessarily tied to tuition protests and was possibly the work of other troublemakers, Charest stuck to a familiar script.

The premier focused his response to the events on his preferred political target: the most radical student protest group, whose acronym is C.L.A.S.S.E. Opinion polls have been unkind to the premier lately, but the latest surveys suggest there is some sympathy for his position on tuition fees.

Charest has been refusing to negotiate with the C.L.A.S.S.E. because the group has avoided taking a stance against violent forms of protest.

“The social disruption is unacceptable,” Charest told reporters after his speech.

“I’ve had ministers’ offices ransacked. We’ve had ministers who have had tanks of gas put on the grounds of their homes. Molotov cocktails in front of their offices. Death threats.

“And they refuse to condemn violence? In 2012, in Quebec? That’s unacceptable.”

Also looming in the backdrop are conflict-of-interest and ethics scandals dogging Charest’s government.

His latest headache stems from an investigative report that a well-connected political organizer has been peddling cash-for-access schemes related to the Plan Nord.

Charest’s goal is to develop a 1.2-million-square kilometre stretch of the province’s north over the next 25 years. Charest has said it will create 500,000 jobs, though his claims have been met with skepticism from opponents who call the plan everything from a marketing gimmick to a sellout of Quebec’s resources.

An investigative show on the French-language CBC showed a provincial Liberal organizer — and onetime prominent organizer for the Harper Tories — discussing the Plan Nord while being surreptitiously videotaped.

That organizer, Pierre Coulombe, was videotaped suggesting to reporters, who pretended to be potential clients, that they could have access to Plan Nord decision-makers for a fee.

Instead of handing cash-filled envelopes to political insiders, he suggested clients should simply promise them multi-year jobs on their departure from politics.

He indicated such jobs might pay them about $25,000 annually and require that they attend only one meeting a year while being sent on occasional business trips to Europe.

Not far from Charest’s event, an announcement by the federal immigration minister was also interrupted by two protesters who had bought tickets to his speech.

As Kenney began his speech, they twice shouted that his immigration reforms would destroy people’s lives. They were both quickly escorted out of the hotel room.

Kenney was in Montreal to announce, in his latest immigration policy reform, that people must prove they can speak English or French to gain Canadian citizenship.

Comments

wojtek
May 18 2012 20:35

CLASSE`s twitter feed reports that public sector workers in Quebec belonging to the CSN union have voted unanimously in favour of a motion to engage in an open-ended general social strike.

Marc Daoud: 'I organized a march of 50 people once the came into force, this is our journey.'

A petition against the new law. Over 60,000 signatures in a few hours:

Petition in support of the request for revocation of the special Bill 78

Canadian Association of University Teachers - Quebec special law violates student rights and civil liberties

Quote:
OTTAWA, May 18, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of University Teachers is strongly condemning Quebec's Bill 78, the law tabled in Quebec to end the 14-week student strike, for violating fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, and expression.

"This special law is a terrible act of mass repression," said James L. Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. "The Quebec government has opted to exert the heavy hand of the law as a weapon to suppress dissent."

Fleur
May 18 2012 20:25

Thank you to the admins for putting this back on the front page.
The government of Quebec have effectively just declared war on the students.

wojtek
May 18 2012 20:47

From the 16th at a demonstration against the special law:

Demo ends in kettles, arrests: Student journalists from The Daily and Concordia’s Link held

Quote:
...Thousands of students gathered at parc Emilie-Gamelin at around 11:00 p.m. and marched peacefully through the downtown area. But after firecrackers were set off, bank windows smashed, and allegations by the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) of an assault within the crowd, the demonstration was declared illegal. Several “targeted” arrests were made before the group at Maisonneuve was surrounded by officers.

Plastic bullets were fired at protesters on at least two occasions.

Two journalists from The Daily and three from Concordia newspaper the Link were among those kettled and were told they would be charged with participating in an illegal assembly, and that the SPVM would not recognize their press credentials because they were not members of the “organized press,” namely the Fédération professionelle des journalistes du Québec (FPJQ).

Journalists being held tweeted their location to the SPVM’s account, which responded and informed the students that calls were being made regarding their situation. Four buses arrived on the scene to transport arrested demonstrators at about 2 a.m. Shortly afterwards, the five student journalists were released. The SPVM reported that 122 arrests were made.

Fleur
May 18 2012 22:51

update; Emergency law has passed. Number people allowed to assemble raised to 50. Now wearing a red fabric square, which has become the emblem of the protest is in violation of the law and subject to a fine.
So freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom to wear what you want is now subject to emergency measures.

wojtek
May 19 2012 16:11

Thousands march throughout the night

'Protesters are directing traffic. No, I'm not kidding. #manifencours'

by monique_muise via twitter 3:09 AM

3.23AM:

'Bikers make a racket with horns as crowd passes. #manifencours twitpic.com'

Photos here.

Fleur
May 19 2012 18:49

I think 10,000 or so protesters told Charest what he could do with his emergency law.
Apparently the SPVM (Montreal police) switchboards were inundated with people phoning up to log their protests.

http://montreal.mediacoop.ca/story/quebec-emergency-law-attack-freedom-assembly-and-expression-say-critics/10954

Went out this morning with my now illegal red square and got the biggest thumbs up and cheesy grin from the bus driver! OTOH, about an hour later, someone spat at me in the street.

Joseph Kay
May 19 2012 19:04

I know it's small fry compared to what's going on in Quebec, but my experience of student action and the law is this:

One week 50 or so occupied management offices, they fabricated a hostage situation, brought in riot police and dogs and roughed a load of people up. They secured a High Court injunction criminalising further occupations (on pain of fines/immediate prison). The following week 300+ occupied in open defiance of the High Court and there wasn't a cop in sight. The only way to react to this is to escalate imho, make it unworkable. Looks like that's happening, but it could get pretty nasty with yet more repression.

wojtek
May 19 2012 19:26
Quote:
CLASSE`s twitter feed reports that public sector workers in Quebec belonging to the CSN union have voted unanimously in favour of a motion to engage in an open-ended general social strike.

fleurnoire-et-rouge, has there been any more information on this?

Fleur
May 19 2012 21:37

That's what I've got on my twitter feed too, but I can't find any further information. Certainly the unions have said that they support the students, and have done since the beginning, but whether this will translate into anything concrete, beyond the symbolic hanging of the red flag outside the union buildings, I really couldn't say.

Joseph Kay - as for the escalation, I really don't think it's going to get any quieter. To call this law draconian is a bit of an understatement. Under the fine print, student associations can be banned from campuses potentially for years and replacement student associations won't be allowed. The police now have even more power to pile into protesters and they've hardly been sparingly using their tear gas and stun grenades and everything else they have in their arsenal. Because of the layout of downtown Montreal, there are so many colleges/campuses, the 50 meter exclusion zone will make it impossible to legally protest anywhere down there. People are really mad, I can't see them just stopping. A new website has gone up, to call out for protests without having it traced back tio individuals or organisations.
http://www.manifswiki.net/
Certainly if they thought that people would go home, I think that they are very much mistaken.

wojtek
May 20 2012 02:43
Quote:
Certainly the unions have said that they support the students, and have done since the beginning, but whether this will translate into anything concrete, beyond the symbolic hanging of the red flag outside the union buildings, I really couldn't say.

Yeah, beyond rhetoric, donations and a few symbolic strikes they've done well... nothing.

Regarding esculating the general strike into a social one, has there been any movement from rank-and-file workers, the unemployed, indigenous peeps and secondary students? From what I've read of the alternative news in Quebec and Canada, I get the impression that there's not much light at the end of the tunnel, at least up until now... I'm not saying things can't or won't change by now by the way!

Does anyone know how, in what conditions the massive wildcat strike of May '68 arose?

I know there's been a couple of Molotovs, whether that's provocateurs or not we'll probably never know and it's early days, but can you see a minority splitting ala the Red Brigades or Quebec Liberation Front?

Excuse all the questions, I'm just trying to look at historical precedents ('68 and Italy '77). figure out the prospects for better or worse that's all. smile *regrets not being a history buff*

Fleur
May 20 2012 03:21

I really can't emphasise this enough, I am not a student and I have no inside track on what's going on. I just want people to know what is happening here. Got a friend staying from overseas this weekend and they had no idea at all.
Apart from unions saying that they are supportive, not seeing any general move towards turning this into a social strike. It is really, really polarised here. Over the last couple of weeks, especially after the smoke bombs on the metro, a fair amount of public opinion has turned against the protests, not all but a fair amount. Not surprising really, given that the media is so biased, both in English and French. All the lead stories today about last night's demos emphasised a couple of molotovs, the actions of the police are secondary. Most people don't read the alternative media. Massive hostility towards the journalists from the protesters, especially the Journal de Montreal.
However, everybody was expecting some kind of emergency law, but what we got is far more draconian than anyone expected. People are comparing it to the War Measures Act, which was used in the 1970's to bring the army onto the streets of Montreal in response to the FLQ and the October Crisis.[url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_de_libération_du_Québec[/url]
I think, maybe I just hope, that people have longer memories than the powers that be think they have.
There have been some sympathetic walk outs by secondary students, but schools out in a few weeks, not sure that it will go anywhere.
Also, it's dividing the population along language lines. Quebec is a francophone province, but there is a significant anglo minority and I hate to generalise, but they tend to be fairly affluent. Anglophone Montreal far less sympathetic to the strike.
It's hard to look at Quebec politics in the same way as many other places. You can't just look at it in terms of left and right, there's also language and nationalism/federalism. Lines can be very blurry at times.
IMO, things are not looking too good, but then I'm feeling pretty pessimistic about loads of stuff at the moment, so hopefully, I am wrong.
Montreal relies on the tourist trade in the summer. Hot, sultry weather and masses of festivals, Just for Laughs, jazzfest, film festivals,outdoor concerts, the grand prix etc. This could hit the city where it really hurts. Americans (we're really close to the border) are being warned to keep away. American tourists bring huge amounts of revenues in, given the reputation as a bit of a sin city and party town. Economic disruption looks like an optimal tactic.
Another huge demo tonight. No sign of much compliance with loi 78.
Sorry, rambling and incoherent, dead tired.

Fleur
May 20 2012 03:22

Sorry, just realised that I posted up the same link as YOu embarrassed
Really knackered, not thinking too straight.

Fleur
May 20 2012 03:53

FWIW though, not seeing any massive FLQ type thing going on. The FLQ had a strong nationalist/separatist agenda and there's very low levels of separatist interest these days.
I really don't know how it's going to go. Montreal's a fantastic city, and despite a somewhat turbulent history, I've never felt anything but welcome, even when my french was shit and I couldn't find my way around. But, like I mentioned before, a stranger spat at me in the street today and I was really shocked.
Anyway, need to go to bed. I'll think clearer tomorrow, hopefully.

Fleur
May 20 2012 22:29

http://www.globalnews.ca/video/raw+video+montreal+police+pepper+spraying+bar+customers/video.html?v=2237159572&p=1&s=dd#canada

More protests last night, 69 arrests, teas gas etc, including group of people enjoying a few beers on the terrasse of a bar ( see above.) More planned for tonight. No sign of it letting up. Some of legal opinion questioning the emergency law as being unconstitutional.

Quebec artists showing support for students abroad.
http://www.spinner.ca/2012/05/20/arcade-fire-quebec-student-protests/
http://artthreat.net/2012/05/laurence-anyways-cannes-red-square/

Fleur
May 21 2012 00:45

http://www.sabotagemedia.anarkhia.org/2012/05/a-first-hand-account-of-the-brutality-of-the-quebec-provincial-police-on-may-4th-in-victoriaville/#more-2299

Has this already been posted up? I'm losing track a bit. An account of Victoriaville, not very current, had it saved but couldn't work out why I hadn't posted it, unless it's already here.

Fleur
May 21 2012 13:22

https://twitter.com/#!/JulieMaudeB/status/204417502246211584/photo/1

300+ arrests last night. The guy in above twitterpic has serious head injuries, fortunately not life threatening - note that he has cuffs on his wrist, was injured after he was arrested. Apparently a lot of people in Montreal don't feel a strong need to obey the special law.
Media coverage predictably lousy, all emphasising that police provoked by demonstrators throwing projectiles.
Police from SQ (provincial police) are being drafted in to Montreal because the SPVM (Montreal police) are getting really tired.
Grand Prix and festival season just around the corner.

CBC coverage: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/05/21/montreal-protests-students-police-teargas.html

Fleur
May 21 2012 13:25

Incidentally, loads of TV coverage of royal visit. Why aren't Charles and Camilla coming to Montreal? wink

Fleur
May 21 2012 14:48

Just when I thought no-one outside of Quebec was noticing, a solidarity demo in Paris
http://www.fabula.org/actualites/carre-rouge-a-paris_51181.php

Khawaga
May 21 2012 15:04

From a friend's FB feed.

Quote:
You know what last night looked like to me? Argentina during Pinochet's rule. Police driving up, plucking people up who showed dissent, and driving away. This is one of the creepiest situations I have ever seen, let alone with my own eyes. Montreal IS a police state

I also read on someone's feed that the police had started using their service revolvers/guns. Not sure if just for threatening ppl or actually shooting.

Caiman del Barrio
May 21 2012 15:06
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
You know what last night looked like to me? Argentina during Pinochet's rule.

Non-existent? wink

[/dickhead]

Khawaga
May 21 2012 15:45

Lol, I didn't see that before now. I'll give my friend a history lesson when he comes back.

Fleur
May 21 2012 22:49

CLASSE held press conference this afternoon to say that they will be defying Bill 78.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/05/21/quebec-student-groups-fight-bill-78.html

No illusions about the media, but this article about how La Presse has been doctoring their coverage (sorry, but it doesn't want to run through google translate. ) Last night 2 of their journalists were arrested. Ist account online in La Presse, roughtly translated
...later 2 journalists (female) were kettled by the police. One was wearing ski goggles to protect her eyes against tear gas and debris from projectiles. She was knocked over and injured on her mouth. In spite of their protestations and trying to reason with the officers on the scene, it took 20 minutes for them to be freed; police officer said that they didn't give a shit/fuck (depends on tone of voice, that one) that they were journalists.
Article modified until references to being knocked over and verbally abused removed.
http://checkdonc.ca/41687
Personally not surprised, but most of the public are getting their news from a biased and hostile media.

All sorts of rumours circulating, that the army is going to be called in. Personally, I see that as unlikely at the moment - you do regularly see military vehicles in Montreal, because of local military bases, but people are also understandingly very jumpy. Also rumours that local internet provider is censoring emails. Also, IDK, but certainly the atmosphere is very conducive to paranoia. I really couldn't say, but the situation is pretty head-fucky. Suspension of civil rights is not something I saw coming.
Anyway, big one tomorrow, planned before Bill 78 came in, to mark 100 days since beginning of strike.

wojtek
May 22 2012 16:00

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies) in Canada have officially endorsed the Quebec strike and have donated funds to CUTV.

Fleur
May 22 2012 18:39

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/union-cash-flowing-into-quebec-to-fund-prolonged-protests-152615355.html

Other union support too.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/ethan-cox/2012/05/new-poll-bad-news-charest-his-battle-students

Bill 78 not going down too well with public in Quebec. This is just me talking personally, but there does seem to be a turn in attitudes, not necessarily in support of the students, but definitely against the actions of the government. I'm not nearly as gloomy as I was a few days ago. smile

knotwho
May 22 2012 18:52

Malcolm Harris and Max Fox have a write-up trying to link the frame-ups of black blockers in Occupy with the Quebec protests.

Quote:
Adopting the red square does many things. It extends solidarity to a valiant student revolt that has been widely successful, at a time when it needs the world’s eyes. If it were to proliferate at the Occupy velocity, it would allow us to draw very broad lines through the domestic political situation, lines that, in practice, would mean increasingly militant mobilization. The idea that The Black Bloc collects the demonstrators with the most aggressive ideas or attitudes is a dangerous myth, and we do not believe opening up space that would include more tendencies of resistance would dilute its fire. Rather, the opposite.
wojtek
May 23 2012 22:43

“We didn’t know it was impossible, so we did it!”: Student Strike celebrates its 100th day

Reports of 50,000 on streets.

"Sellout student orgs & unions like FECQ and FTQ have shared demo route with police. Instead of defiance they collaborate."
Jaggi Singh (jaggimontreal) on Twitter

But no one seemed to followed the route. Total civil disobedience.

Quote:
Under encouragement from the more hardline C.L.A.S.S.E. student group, a minority of protesters broke off from the main crowd in a symbolic slap at the Bill 78. Then the crowd continued to disintegrate into additional factions.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokerperson for the group, called the demonstration a historic act of widespread civil disobedience.

He said he was prepared to suffer the consequences.

"We are ready to act according to our constitutional rights and if this has judicial consequences we will assume those consequences," he said.

"So personally I will be ready to face justice, if I need to."

On Day 100 of Quebec student strikes, Montreal protest goes international

Fleur
May 23 2012 00:59

http://tvanouvelles.ca/lcn/infos/regional/montreal/archives/2012/05/20120522-135936.html

Now, I was never very good at maths, but that looks a lot more than 50 to me wink

Fleur
May 24 2012 01:52

http://www.caomsc.qc.ca/

STM ( Montreal public transit) union refusing to allow police to use STM buses. Posting up their own copwatch videos. Middle video is of SQ pre-emptively arresting a bunch of students on their way to a demo

100+ arrests last night.

EDIT: videos removed from STM union website

anonarqui
May 23 2012 14:24

http://anarchistnews.org/content/solidarity-means-attack-call-support-montr%C3%A9al

Solidarity Means Attack - Call For Support From Montréal!

THE LAWS
On Friday, May 18, 2012, two new laws came into effect in montréal. Their purpose is to stifle the anti-capitalist revolt that has emerged from the student strike that began in this province fifteen weeks ago, to restore order and clear the way for the implementation of austerity measures in this territory.

The first is a municipal by-law. It aims to discourage people from wearing masks at demonstrations by threatening them with fines from $1000 to $5000. It comes as the federal government is contemplating a law, to be implemented across the whole territory of the canadian state, that would punish those who conceal their identities “while participating in a riot” with a maximum of ten years in prison.

The second is the provincial government’s Special Law which demands that all public manifestations of popular dissent submit themselves to fastidious control by the state. Any demonstration, anywhere in québec, must submit a start time and a complete route to the local police at least eight hours in advance; if it does not, it is illegal. The route can also be changed at any time by the police. There can be no demonstrations on the grounds of academic institutions, nor even within fifty metres of them. Any leader, spokesperson, or rank-holding member of a student association that blocks access to classes or counsels others to do so will be subjected to a fine ranging between $7000 and $35,000. If a student association as a whole is found guilty of the above, they will be subjected of a fine between $25,000 and $125,000. The amounts are doubled for second offences, and student associations can lose one semester of membership fees for every day that the law is violated. It is also illegal to encourage any other person to attend an illegal demonstration, and it is potentially illegal to livetweet where the demo is and what it’s up to at any given time.

In the three days that the Special Law has been in place, its tangible effect on the movement has been that CLASSE, the most radical student union, has taken down its calendar of events, which listed all of the actions that were happening in montréal and other cities across québec. A new anonymous website has gone up.

In and of themselves, these two new laws will probably not contribute much to putting more people behind bars in the same way as the federal government’s project of prison expansion and criminal justice overhaul. Instead, the aim is to destroy the finances of organizations that have accommodated themselves to the system and perhaps recoup some of the enormous costs incurred as a result of economic sabotage, traffic and commuter chaos, and police overtime over the last few months. To be clear, the fat bank accounts of the student federations were a crucial component of this situation beginning, and since they could be helpful in the future, they’re worth defending. Sustaining the revolt, however, does not require money so much as courage, will, and creativity. We will get what we need to keep fighting, even if it becomes somewhat harder to do so.

Still, what happened in legislative assemblies and city council meetings has had and will have an effect on the streets. Demos are being declared as illegal from the moment they begin, which emboldens the SPVM (local cops) and the SQ (provincial cops) to use more intense dispersal techniques and greater levels of force earlier on. Prior to this law, they’d taken eyes, broken arms, shattered jaws, and put people into life-threatening comas. But people are still in the streets, throwing asphalt at riot cops and building burning barricades...

THE STRIKE
To contextualize things, the strike – if defined as students refusing to attend school – began at the start of February when most of the cégeps in the province of québec, as well as two of the largest universities, voted to strike. Through a series of consistent general assemblies, the student unions and specific faculties of these schools have maintained that they are on strike, each of the bodies defining their intentions and goals. For some of the schools, continuing the strike has been a week-to-week re-negotiation while others voted right from the beginning to participate in an unlimited general strike, and still others voted to strike until all education was free.

At first, the government refused to negotiate with the student federations, insisting that the decision had already been made. It took until the latter half of April before talks could happen, thanks in large part to the unilateral call for a truce by CLASSE’s executive without the consultation of the membership. This truce took the form of CLASSE stating that no actions would happen under their name while negotiations were in progress. Talks broke down when a confrontational demo, not planned by CLASSE, took the streets on April 24, the government refused to sit down with CLASSE any longer, and the other two federations walked out in solidarity. Whether the government knew it and was being manipulative, or didn’t and was being stupid, it should have been clear that the federation bureaucrats no longer had any control over the people in the streets – and this was no longer simply about increasing tuition fees. When further talks two weeks later produced an actual proposal for a deal, the federation memberships rejected it. There is no reason to think there will be any more talks for some time. That leaves significantly fewer options for a leftist recuperation.

TODAY
Right now, the general sentiment in the street is that we will not stop, we will not be contained, and we do not want this to end now. We have watched the situation transform from a limited strike with reformist goals to a generalized revolt with revolutionary aspirations. The diversity of tactics being used, the cries that ring out during demos, and the kinds of targets that get attacked are pretty clear indications that this is about so much more than tuition fees – and many moments have been beautiful in a way that is hard to convey. We won’t give up on this.

And we want you to feel what we’re feeling. We know you feel something, but we want you to feel it like we feel it. We know that every time one of us goes to jail, every time a comrade in the streets loses their eye to the shrapnel of a concussion grenade or their ear to a rubber bullet to the head, that there are so many others who feel the heat of vengeance swell inside them. Knowing the global situation, knowing that people are approaching the breaking point not just here but everywhere, it needs to be insisted upon that what is happening in québec is not exceptional. What has happened here can happen elsewhere and it needs to happen elsewhere. Everything we’re doing has been inspired by the revolts and uprisings that have taken hold in other places. If it can’t inspire social disruptions of its own, then it will die out quick.

So this is a call out for solidarity as much as it’s our heartfelt hope that one day you’ll feel this around you as well. This needs to spread past montréal, past québec. Bring it to your cities and communities in whatever way you can, using whatever methods and means are at your disposal.

Our hearts and heads are tired, but we’re still smiling.

We want to see the strike spread. We want to see this social upheaval spread.

When shit is fucked, fuck shit up.

Please circulate widely.