Volume 46, Issue 5: September/October 2012
This issue of CD was delayed because we felt it important to include an analysis of the Québec election. See our editorial, written by members of our Québec collective.
The Québec Student Strike
In their opening article of this special issue (“Québec Students Teach the World a Lesson: Neoliberalism Must Go!”), Eric Martin and Simon Tremblay-Pepin write: “Following in the footsteps of the Chilean student protests, the mobilization of Québec students has ignited the fuse of a growing powder keg of popular anger against neoliberalism in Québec, in Canada and in other parts of the world. We are witnessing an unprecedented mobilization to defend public education and with it the very idea of the common good, against the privatization of social relations.” La Presse has noted that the red felt square worn by protesting students has now become a “symbol of student struggle well beyond Québec’s borders.”
Sabine Friesinger, a journalist with the Concordia University television station, compares that station’s coverage of the student strike with the coverage provided by the mainstream media and particularly the Péladeau and Desmarais media empires.
Robert Martin examines the composition of the student organizations behind the strike and compares their approaches to leadership and mobilization. CD reproduces the brilliant CLASSE Manifesto, which lays out the principles of the striking students and the scope of their demands which extend far beyond tuition fees.
Jonathan Leblanc describes the Québec legislature’s massive intervention to limit the free speech of striking students (Bill 78), and the remarkable non-violent civil disobedience movement that brought citizens into the streets banging pot and pans. These “casserole” demonstrations have been described as the largest civil disobedience movement in Canadian history.
In their important contribution about the ambiguous role of Québec’s union movement, André Frappier and Bernard Rioux write that “the student movement has been hobbled by the dim prospects for a united front with the union federations as well as the unions’ refusal to help create a broad social movement leading to a social strike against neoliberal policies.”
Aside from Frappier, a trade unionist, and Rioux, a long-time political activist, all the contributors to this issue are Québec students active in the strike.
This special issue of CD was planned by CD’s Québec collective members and coordinated by Andrea Levy.
The stunning graphics in this special edition are the work of a deliberately nameless Montréal artist. On his website, his partner explains: “The artist who draws the images and writes the texts (my husband) considers his name is not important: he feels his contribution is minimal in comparison to the efforts of the students. I would like to highlight the fact that the images wouldn’t exist without the militants who inspire them, always in the shadows and never remembered, they are the ones who get beaten with batons, pepper sprayed, slandered by a lot of media, subjected to arbitrary arrests, etc. Remaining nameless is our way to express our solidarity with all these people who fight for our liberty, a more equitable society, the respect of the environment…”