Happy 100th Day!

Demonstrators pack up banners after Quebec solidarity demo at King & James

A small but determined group of demonstrators gathered at King and James this afternoon to show solidarity with Quebec’s student strike, currently celebrating their hundredth day. The dozen or so union members, many responding on less than a day’s notice waved banners, union flags and handed out information about the student struggle and Bill-78. Solidarity rallies were also scheduled today for New York, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Paris, France. In Montreal, a massive demonstration against the new anti-protest law is taking place, though little is online yet (unofficially, I just heard “half a million in the streets of Montreal”)

This past weekend in Quebec witnessed a severe escalation of the struggle. Premier Charest passed legislation (Bill 78) targeting the student movement, imposing enormous fines, requiring official notice before any demonstration and ending the semester at affected schools. At least one of the student organizations, CLASSE, has voted to disobey. Conflicts in the streets also escalated, with hundreds of arrests, and fiery street-fighting. Today also marks the date Premier Charest has (finally) declared an inquiry into corruption, as the now-breaking scandal involving Mafia and prominent construction firms threatens to bring down both the Quebec Liberals and Montreal’s municipal government.

More local solidarity actions are being planned, as well as proposals for strike votes across the rest of the country and beyond, where tuition fees are already much higher. The exploding international attention now being focused on Quebec, as well as the continued resolve of the students have rendered Charest’s new law shows just how serious a social force students are. Elsewhere, Chile is gripped by similar student unrest, and the deadly suppression of protests at a Syrian university in Allepo have galvanised yet more opponent’s of Assad’s regime. Cracking down on protests doesn’t work, and that’s especially true with students.

This is why Quebec has the country’s lowest tuition.