"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why I Support the Quebec Student Protests

Because this is what the other side does.



My French isn't good enough to follow the conversation very precisely, but that doesn't really matter. There is nothing anyone could have said to that police officer short of a direct threat to their life and limb that would justify the use of pepper spray. And that isn't the gist of the conversation here.
Nope, Constable 728 is just pepper-spraying non-violent people for the heinous crime of getting on her nerves because she can. Because she knows that nothing very bad will happen to her for bullying people to whom she has taken a dislike. My bet is that, at worst, she loses a few days pay and gets very stern 10-second lecture ("don't do that in front of a camera again, 728").

While some are calling the protesting students in Quebec a bunch of spoiled crybabies for taking to the streets after the provincial government announced it was going to double tuition for post-secondary education, I have to admit I'd have joined similar demonstrations if I were a student.
Imagine you were a businessperson with a widget factory. If a supplier you had a four year-vendor contract with suddenly told you it was going to double its prices regardless of the contract, you'd call your lawyers to sue for breach of contract and look for another vendor, right?
Well, in this case the vendor has a monopoly. There are not a lot of French-language universities or trade schools in North America outside of Quebec.
Eventually, another company would come along to supply your widget factory. But students don't have the luxury of waiting around for a private post-secondary education system to arise, they are in the middle of earning a degree or a diploma which has just effectively doubled in price.
And when they complain about it in a meaningful way, when they have the temerity to inconvenience others, the goon squad gets sent in.


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7 comments:

Dr.Dawg said...

These cops are worse than animals. The laws of self-defence should apply in cases like this--if you are assaulted by non-cops, after all, you have a right to use reasonable force to defend yourself. Same should go for these uniformed thugs. And if some of them get hurt, well, they asked for it.

In the meantime, this creature should be sued in civil court for assault, since the criminal system simply refuses to function when cops are involved. And before that, she should be identified and publicly shamed.

Anonymous said...

The tuition hike is actually spread out over 7 years, it's not instant. Even in 7 years, Quebec tuition fees will be among the lowest in north America. The government also announced increased bursaries and financial aid for families making under 60k a year. Besides all this, many protesters wear masks, stop people from going to class, set fire to the city, phone in bomb threats, and call for mass civil disobedience. This is not democracy, it's mob rule.

Kevin Wood said...

I know the hikes are spread over several years and will still be among the lowest in North America. All Canadian university tuition fees are "among the lowest in North America" especially for the quality of education that they deliver. Because an Ivy League education costs the GDP of a small African nation. To get a degree in the U.S. for what one pays in Canada, you'd be going to "Billy Bob's Bible College, University and Aluminum Siding Emporium."
We have slightly higher standards.
And try to imagine the huge number of fucks I do not give that the students are wearing masks during the protests. As I have mentioned elsewhere, given that cops make a point of trying to video all protests and given the way the security apparatus has embraced facial recognition software, invasion of privacy and the abuse of civil liberties, anyone who attends a protest in North America today and isn't wearing a mask is either an idiot or a martyr.
Some of the students may be blocking classes and calling for civil disobedience, but I don't recall them pepper spraying or beating anyone.

Boris said...

Anon,

When the goal becomes zero tuition hike or a reduction, any increase means the government wins and the students lose. Whatever opportunity there may have been for a solution that involved the students accepting an increase in fees was tear-gassed, truncheoned, and peppersprayed away, and was then lost completely with the emergency legislation.

The issue isn't about fees anymore. It's about resistance to the [neoliberal] state tearing up what is left of the social contract and enforcing austerity and control on the people who elected them. The #ggi tag means "grève générale illimitée", in English, 'unlimited general strike'. Wait for it. The events in Quebec I think have hit the point now where any escalation by the Charest goverment or the police will be met and and raised by the protesters. The government and police have lost legitmacy and unless they back down things will only get worse.

It's very dangerous now. The police are starting to crack and attack innocent bystanders.

Kevin Wood said...

this idiotic rumour that Charest might try to call in the army might get a few Law-n-order types on his side, but would turn Quebecers against him and his party for a generation or two.

Boris said...

I did riot control training once. I hope is that the army is much more disciplined than the police, and that it does NOT use the means it has available. Charest is a fucking idiot and he's risking a great deal.

Canadian Malcontent said...

You rarely see that in the corporate lame stream media. The corporate media with their business community cohorts has been allowed to shape public opinion for to long and no one left it seems to stand up for the students, people or the average working person. It gets framed whether a protester or a union worker on strike that the participants are lazy over paid socialist hippy commies looking for handouts yet it is perfectly A ok to give big corps handouts....

We also see whether with G20 or this or any other protest what a bunch of thugs the police are and the lame stream media frames it as the protesters are the bad guys.