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The Lac-Mégantic disaster — Who is to blame?

The train derailment in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic on Friday 5th July has come as a huge shock. With 37 confirmed dead, and another 13 people still missing, this is turning out to be the worst train accident in North America since a 1989 train crash in Mexico, which left 112 dead and a further 200 injured. Anguish and grief has started to turn into anger as people are learning the reasons for the accident — massive cutbacks in railways and the particularly callous remarks of the CEO of Rail World Inc., Ed Burkhardt. The Lac-Mégantic disaster shows how, in the present period, capitalism is killing us.

Police repression returns to the streets of Montreal

In the past couple of weeks, hundreds of innocent people have been rounded up by the Montreal police, despite the fact that these individuals committed no crimes. It is very clear that this is only the latest attempt by the state to frighten ordinary workers and youth from demonstrating opposition to the ruling class’ agenda. But, in doing so, they are playing a very dangerous game and risk destroying the veil that is bourgeois democracy.

Quebec education summit is a masquerade: Indexation is not a solution for students

The newly-elected Parti Québécois government called for an education summit, which, unsurprisingly, was met with a cynical mood from the thousands of Quebec students who participated in last spring's student movement. The PQ had already decided before-hand that free education was not to be discussed, and that a tuition increase would be imposed. ASSÉ was correct in calling for a boycott of this charade; the student movement will not be pacified by façades like this!

The austerity of the Parti Québécois and the tasks of Quebec solidaire

For a period of several months last summer, a mass movement shook the province of Quebec. It forced an election where the victorious Parti Québécois felt compelled to present themselves as being on the left — proposing to cancel the tuition increase, abolishing the hated law 78, as well as other progressive measures. In its first budget since the election, the Marois government went back on many of its promises made during the election campaign. Faced with the hypocrisy of the PQ who had put themselves forward as “the progressive option”, the possibility to form a party that can represent the interests of workers and youth is more important than ever before. For the left-wing party, Quebec solidaire, the potential for success is greater than it has ever been. But, how can Quebec solidaire take advantage of the present situation and build a real alternative for the workers who search for a way to combat the austerity being forced upon them?

2012/13 Quebec budget: The PQ reveal their true colours

Last week the newly elected Parti Québécois government tabled their first budget since taking power. Finance minister Nicolas Marceau vowed to “balance the books” and “cut spending” in what is a clear austerity budget. Within an extremely short period since being elected, the PQ has now shown their true colours as a party subservient to Quebec big business, in line with the general austerity plan of the recently ousted Liberal Party. This marks a hard lesson for those students and workers who voted for the PQ in order to kick out the Liberals.

Quebec election 2012: Jean Charest defeated, victory for the students!

For seven long months, Quebec students waged a valiant battle on the streets against the Liberal government’s tuition hikes and undemocratic laws. Former premier Jean Charest called the election as a referendum on who runs society — was it the students and the “street”, or was it the government and the so-called “silent majority”? The results of this election show a complete rejection of the Liberal agenda and in many ways, represents a real victory for the student movement.

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.

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