The New War Measures Act

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.


5 thoughts on “The New War Measures Act

    1. The best outcome is the emergence of the general will as a force which can no longer be ignored by Politics, the restauration of class consciousness, the mainstreaming of the critique of the indebted society, the establishment and use of new democratic mechanisms such as the right to withdraw support for an elected government, and the inclusion of economic rights such as the right to work and the right to education within what is simply considered expected and also understood to be reasonable given a sound distribution of profit.

  1. So students in Quebec are not being selfish, nor is the position that they have been defending without merit. So what is going on in Quebec? I hazard the following, daring hypothesis: maybe the students are idealists who are trying to make a better world, one in which a university education is available to all those who have the desire and the ability to pursue it. If that’s the case, they deserve a hearing from their elders, and maybe also, a helping hand. After all, the goal they are pursuing seems one worthy of our support. It certainly beats the wrecked environment and patently unjust economic system that would otherwise represent the bulk of what we will have bequeathed to them.

  2. The young people in these protests are resourceful and intelligent adults that want to make a difference and should receive the full rights citizenship entitles them to by law. These protests are not flippant carnivals for people to be entertained by and endure, they are sincere calls for the awareness that there are tensions and paradoxes in our economic and political systems that actively disenfranchise an entire generation of people that will soon help run the same systems. We should instead listen to the people that bemoan the many difficulties that are symbolized by tuition increases that are occurring not only in Quebec but all over Canada and we should encourage the government to think creatively to help counteract the deteriorating social conditions that young people face. These conditions will only get worse if we remain bound to the same understandings of education we had when we went through university.

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