I haven’t talked much about the democratic student movement in Quebec, but I do think it’s the most important thing happening in Canada right now, and perhaps the most impressive manifestation of a democratic will in Canada since the 3 days of action in 1983. But it’s actually more impressive than that because the popular manifestations have taken place nearly every day for the past 13 weeks. They threat they have created to the status quo, to austerity, and to the tuition increases they oppose has motivated the Quebec Legislature to pass a disgusting piece of emergency legislation that makes a mockery of the charter right to freedom of assembly. What the Charest government underestimates is the power of the popular will which the protestors have crystalized - by manifesting around a specific issue, tuition increases, but with a broad analysis and agenda, the critique of austerity, they have opened the gate for a broad student-labour alliance in the style of may ’68.
The sheer number of arrests exposes the weakness of the current “liberal” establishment to cope with a liberal-style civic insurrection, which uses mostly peaceful protest methods to bring normal life to a halt. Of course there have been some violent exchanges between protestors and police, and also some smoke bombs in the metro, but the law is clearly not directed against the use of political violence because criminalizing peaceful protest.
Rather than write any more about the situation there, I suggest you read a blog I’ve found called “translating the printemps erable“, which is trying to counter the poor english coverage of events by translating pieces from french blogs and media.