Yesterday’s march was a day of markers. It marked a hundred days since the beginning of the student strike against tuition hike. It also marked Canada’s largest ever act of civil disobedience, against the new Bill 78 which criminalizes the strike and even the right to protest. I tried to play my part, even in a different part of the world, by attending a solidarity manifestation in Paris.
The speeches given at the Paris manifestation were excellent, emphasizing the key points about debt (I prefer the French, endettement, or ‘endebtedness’), solidarity, and the need to understand the printemps erable as part of a global phenomenon. I was especially happy to see many Quebecois there and given a chance to speak. Actually in the end everyone was given a chance to speak through the microphone, and everyone respected other people’s time and didn’t get off topic. It made the people’s mike and principles of radical equality of a General Assembly look foolish and needless – through a sense of solidarity and common respect it’s perfectly possible for everyone to have a chance to speak and there is no need to dismiss all hierarchy – some hierarchy is appropriate, some people have prepared speeches, some people have been there, some people have family there, and some people just want to lend support. Especially powerful was the speech by an organizer from Quebec, who gave a short testimony of what it is like to organize the student strike itself – you wake up at 5:30 in the morning to begin organizing the barricades at 6:30 for classes that start at 8. Every entrance must be barricaded or it won’t work. Then you spend the whole day in confrontation, and you go home at midnight, getting to sleep at 1:30. Then you wake up at 5:30 the next day and start everything over again. It reminds me of the 3903 strike, except it doesn’t because that strike was in comparison much more lax.
You can read about the demonstration in Montreal in the Globe and Mail here.
You can watch the Real News Network’s coverage of the day here.
And you can see my photos of the Paris demonstration here.