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Quebec 2012: Elections in a period of crisis

The usual circus of Quebec provincial elections is shaped by an important difference this time around.  In the context of the seven-month-old student movement, this election raises the possibility of sending a sharp message to Jean Charest's Liberal government -- that workers and students will not tolerate the Quebec bosses' austerity agenda.  Although the election alone will not radically change the situation of the Quebec working class, it is also wrong to ignore, or abstain from, the election.  What should the message in the election be?  What should workers and youth expect from the election?

Political profiling marks a new stage in the repression of the student movement

The numerous arrests during the festivities associated with the Grand Prix in Montreal launch a new stage in the police repression of the Quebec student strike, which has lasted for more than 120 days (as of the writing of this article). For the four days of these festivities, more than 130 people were arrested. More important than the number of arrested was the way in which these arrests were carried out. From demagogic speeches and discourse associating the red square with violence, we've now passed to direct violence against those who carry this symbol.

"Casserole protests": Quebec student strike spreads to the working class

Just one day after the largest demonstration in Canadian history, the police have moved towards a “hard application” of “special law” 78. Across Quebec, over 700 were arrested by the police. A new phenomenon, which clearly shows the depth of support for the students and the hatred for the heavy handedness of the government, has been the development of the “casserole protests”. Last night, hundreds of parents and children assembled in the streets in different neighbourhoods banging pots, pans, and casserole dishes to show their defiance of law 78 — recalling the protests in Chile and Argentina of the hated dictatorships of the 1970s.

Hundreds of thousands march in Montreal in defiance of Bill 78

Tuesday, May 22nd saw the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Between 250,000 and 350,000 youth and workers came out onto the streets of Montreal and openly defied the emergency law that requires police approval of protest routes eight hours in advance. A widely publicized “official route” was broken; the crowd turned away, following an unannounced path. The crowd was enormous, and easily broke the previous records set by the demonstrations on March 22 and April 22, proving that this movement was beginning to penetrate into wider layers of Quebec society. Jean Charest’s gamble that the movement could be smashed with police batons and emergency powers had backfired, badly.

Quebec government trashes democratic rights in order to crush the student movement

Over the past two weeks, the student strike in Quebec has entered a new stage. What originally began as a strike against a 75% increase in tuition fees has rapidly progressed into a movement against the Liberal government itself. Premier Jean Charest’s government has clumsily fallen over itself, trying to suppress or divide the movement, with little success. Instead of killing the movement, every action by the government has only given the movement new life. The Quebec student strike is no longer simply about tuition fees; it is now a question of who wields real power in society.

Quebec student strike forces education minister to resign

The past two weeks of the Quebec student strike have brought an intense roller-coaster of events. The Quebec government put forward an offer that would “find a way out of the crisis”, but which did nothing to resolve the issue of the proposed tuition increase. The offer was massively rejected in assembly after assembly across Quebec. Then, on Tuesday the 14th of May, there was the surprise announcement by education minister Line Beauchamp, who was not only quitting her ministerial post but also giving up her seat in the National Assembly — reducing the Liberal government’s majority to just one seat. Today, the government seems in a frenzy to smash the students. The provincial police have charged picket lines and arrested dozens. This government is a wounded animal lashing out.

Vote "No" to the Quebec student deal!

We are publishing a statement put out by our comrades in Quebec, La Tendance Marxiste Internationale au Québec, on the government's deal with the striking Quebec students.  Last night (Sunday), there was another large demonstration and our comrades handed out over 1,000 leaflets with this statement.  There is only one answer to the government's offer: continue the fight! The students must reject the offer in their assemblies and must continue the strike!

Quebec’s youth in revolt: 73 days, 178,390 students on strike

This week has been a crucial one in Quebec’s historic student strike. In their struggle against the $1,625 tuition increase, the students have held strong since February 13th —  for 73 days straight. 178,390 students remain on unlimited strike despite the government’s gamble they could wait this movement out, that it would tire and collapse. This heroic movement is showing an amazing will to fight, and the government has been playing games. They have been swinging back and forth from pretending to negotiate to attempting to put down this rising of a generation by force. The coming days will be crucial in deciding the struggle.

Police repression and injunctions fail to stop the Quebec student movement

As this article goes to print, the Quebec student strike is in its 11th week. All of the efforts by the Jean Charest government to derail and divide the student movement have so far failed, and generally have served to further ignite the flame and spread the indignation to the rest of the population. The vitriolic media campaign unleashed over the supposed “violence” of the students has failed; meanwhile, the government refuses to condemn the brutality and mass indiscriminate arrests by the police forces. The student strike has not been crushed nor has it fizzled out as hoped.  In fact, it has only grown larger as another 11,000 students have recently voted to join the unlimited strike.

Only answer to Quebec student injunctions: Resistance and solidarity!

Following injunctions at the Université de Montréal (UdeM), the slogan, "When injustice becomes law, resistance is a duty!" really becomes the only way forward for students facing the attacks of the Jean Charest government and the Quebec ruling class. This resistance seems self-evident and the enormous mobilization around the blockade of the Roger Gaudry pavilion at UdeM on April 12th can confirm it, but one should not have illusions: this is a difficult battle and the result will depend, in large part, on the capacity of the UdeM students as well as other universities to mobilize. The student movement is vacillating between a mass will to fight and discouragement in the face of the size of the obstacles that the injunctions present.