The American Bear



10,000 Quebec students clash with police after rejecting tuition increase
February 28, 2013

A tuition-fee compromise by Quebec’s premier couldn’t prevent a violent protest that rekindled memories of last year’s Quebec Spring.

The window-smashing rally of 10,000 people took place despite Pauline Marois’s efforts to appease student hardliners with a bilateral meeting.

The hardliners instead boycotted Marois’s summit and organized a massive demonstration after the premier refused to abolish tuition fees.

As the meeting drew to a close south of downtown, Montreal riot police charged crowds of mask-wearing protesters north of the summit site.

Suspects pelted officers and their horses with rocks, eggs and red paint. Windows were smashed and vehicles were damaged along the rally route and police tackled at least one masked man and led him away in handcuffs.

It was the second straight day of vandalism related to the student movement. Suspects splattered red paint at the offices of several provincial politicians hours before the meeting got underway on Monday morning.

The premier concluded her two-day summit by holding firm on a $70 annual tuition increase and $250 million in cuts to university budgets over two years.

Marois marched with the students when she was opposition leader but has since drawn their ire despite cancelling the previous Liberal government’s seven-year, $1,800 tuition hike.

Before the violent outbreak Tuesday, she suggested the summit that brought together unions, university rectors and moderate students was a success.

“We have done a tremendous job,” she told reporters. “We managed to put the fighting behind us and return to dialogue.”

Even moderate student groups opposed to Tuesday’s protest gave Marois the thumbs down.

They said they were “extremely disappointed” Marois didn’t maintain a tuition freeze first implemented in 1993.

University principals and rectors are also upset at the budget cuts, warning that student services will suffer.

Quebec students have been willing to create social unrest to make their point.

The previous Liberal government’s decision to hike tuition led to months of protests last year that taxed police services, disrupted Quebec’s economy and made international headlines.


We desperately need this kind of organization in the US. My alma mater is raising tuition & living costs yet again this year & barely any students even know about it.

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via randomactsofchaos)

Whichever side of the debate you were on, there was no denying the significance of the moment. Marois, who was criticized by the Liberals for wearing a symbolic red square in solidarity with students for much of the conflict, made a promise to cancel the tuition increase — and she moved quickly to fulfill that commitment. Students, who organized countless marches and clanged pots and never wavered from their goal of keeping education accessible with a tuition freeze, seemed at last to have triumphed definitively.

In Quebec It’s Official: Mass Movement Leads to Victory for Students


Major victory for Quebec students! Tuition fee hike & anti-protest bills withdrawn! « Education Activist Network

Students and their supporters throughout the Canadian province of Quebec are celebrating the ousting of Liberal Premier Jean Charest, the withdrawal of Bill 78 and most importantly the freeze in tuition fees. This victory comes after six months of student strike involving more than 190,000 students.

Quebec students who already paid the lowest tuition fees across North America were faced with a 75% tuition fee increase. Even if the planned increase had gone ahead, Quebec students still would have pay less than in any other Canadian province. Why? Quebec students have a strong tradition of fighting for free education since the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. And if you fight you can win!

During the six month –long strike many the demonstrations held on the 22nd of each month reached up to 500 000 protesters. However, it was the roughly180 local unions organised in CLASSE which carried the fight from day to day shutting down the Port of Montreal, ministerial meetings and nearly all classes in post-secondary education across the province.

In the face of state repression, the use of tear gas, shock grenades, the arrest of thousands of protesters, and riot police in college corridors, students didn’t buckle but instead called upon workers and the neighbourhoods to join in nightly pots and pans protests, the casseroles. Charest’s unpopular Bill 78 acted as a catalyist for the student movement to turn into a popular movement.

(via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

Quebec appeals court upholds law limiting protests


MONTREAL — A court of appeals in Quebec on Monday upheld a lower court’s rejection of a request to scrap parts of a controversial law enacted to quell student protests against tuition hikes.

Special Law 78 was passed on May 18 after clashes between police and students opposed to an 82 percent tuition hike at universities in the French-speaking province of eight million people.

By law, protest organizers must now give police at least eight hours advance notice of any demonstration, and face hefty fines if they fail to do so.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s centrist government says the measure protects the peace by simply outlining where and when protests may occur.

Opponents, however, say it breaches their rights of assembly and free expression.

In its ruling, the lower court rejected a petition submitted by students to suspend two provisions of the law while waiting for consideration of another petition which challenges the constitutionality of the law.

Judge Francois Rolland, in explaining the lower court ruling, wrote that the sections in question “do not prevent protests, even if certain limitations are imposed.”

They target organizers, not protest participants, he added.

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

The People’s LRAD | Sarah Jaffe

You hear just one at first, a clanging noise echoing down an otherwise quiet residential street. Then another joins it, another wooden or perhaps metal spoon banging against another pot. Maybe it’s across the street, or coming from a balcony or an open kitchen window.

Then as you start walking, marching really, banging on your own pot or pan, you see them coming toward you. Your neighbors, maybe people you’ve never spoken to before, and it’s hard to speak to them now so you simply smile. Or maybe you dance a bit, together. Your neighborhood is ringing.

And then you march—more and more people coming out to join you, until there are hundreds and the streets are yours. Everyone is banging, a few are chanting, but the sound you hear most of all is the cacophony of the pots and pans. They can be bizarrely calming, as all your anger flows into striking your pan and the ringing drowns out the thoughts in your head. Amateur musicians all, people try to keep in time with one another, but one part of the march is on one rhythm and the next one on another. When the police cars pass everyone raises their pots and pans above their heads and hits them extra hard, extra loud. When the march moves down streets that haven’t been totally cleared, drivers of cars stuck in traffic greet the manif with their own pots and pans, kept in the car for just such an opportunity.

It is not uncommon for bits of wooden spoons to splinter off. Pans are dented beyond recognition.

The casseroles have taken over Quebec. Like the red fabric square pinned to one’s clothing (symbolizing the debt the students are being forced to take on for their education), they are inclusive and dramatic, both easy to take part in and risky to join. Quebec has outlawed spontaneous mass protest—groups of more than fifty people are required to submit a marching plan in advance and submit to any revision of it that the cops might want to make—but all that did was bring the protests to the masses. What better symbol of the masses than a pot and pan?


­On Monday, over 500 lawyers, notaries and other legal professionals, dressed in their courtroom gowns, walked in silence through the streets of Canada’s second-largest city.
Hundreds of lawyers have marched through Montreal in a subdued challenge to a new bill that harshly limits public protests. Canada’s province of Quebec has gone through 106 days of massive actions, which started as student outrage over tuition hikes.
The black-robed parade protested Bill 78, an emergency law that lays down strict government regulations for demonstrations numbering over 50 people. The lawyers were cheered by crowds; many onlookers shouting “Merci!”


­On Monday, over 500 lawyers, notaries and other legal professionals, dressed in their courtroom gowns, walked in silence through the streets of Canada’s second-largest city.

Hundreds of lawyers have marched through Montreal in a subdued challenge to a new bill that harshly limits public protests. Canada’s province of Quebec has gone through 106 days of massive actions, which started as student outrage over tuition hikes.

The black-robed parade protested Bill 78, an emergency law that lays down strict government regulations for demonstrations numbering over 50 people. The lawyers were cheered by crowds; many onlookers shouting “Merci!


(Source: thepeoplesrecord)

Student protests force Quebec’s Liberal Party convention out of Montreal


MONTREAL — The Liberal Party of Quebec Premier Jean Charest, faced with a student protest movement that has turned violent, said Sunday it was relocating its annual convention to a city outside Montreal.

The party, which has been in power for nine years in the French-speaking Canadian province that is home to eight million people, had been scheduled to hold its party meeting at the Centre Mont-Royal in Montreal May 4-6.

Instead, it will hold the convention in Victoriaville, 170 kilometers (105 miles) to the east of Montreal, the party said in a statement.

Since mid-February, the provincial government has faced a stiff challenge from students angry over plans to raise school fees as part of an effort to rein in the budget deficit.

Tuition in Quebec had been frozen since the province’s “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s in a bid to boost access to post-secondary education, but it began to creep up in the 1990s.

After talks with the government broke down, students took to the streets, resulting in violent clashes with police and smashed storefronts in Montreal.

Charest on Friday offered a compromise — to stretch out the tuition hike over seven years — but the students would not budge, and again took to the streets on Saturday night.

On Sunday, CLASSE, the organization that represents half of the 180,000 students still on strike, rejected the government’s new offer.

Some analysts say Charest could call early elections following the party’s annual convention.

What Should You Know About the Quebec Student Strikes and Occupations? | Mike Konczal

[The] most interesting resistance happening right now is going on in Quebec, Canada. There are, according to one representative report, over 165,000 students on strike from class out of 495,000 in the student body.

Quebec is looking to increase its tuition 75 percent over the next several years. Students responded by starting what is now the longest strike in the province’s history. It’s gone on even though the government has offered to make student loans a nicer, kinder form of debt, with income-contingent repayments, while not budging on the tuition hikes. […]

Why are these sites so potent for activism? The college campus combines several issues into one: the privatization of public services, the dismembering of social insurance and its replacement with a regime of debt and risk-shifting, and the dismantling of the primary means of social mobility with one designed to entrench inequality, which all builds toward a lack of freedom to fully develop one’s talents and abilities and be full, productive citizens.

These students are right to fight this battle at the beginning, during the initials cuts. Privatization creates its own justification; the more public universities are defunded and reconceived as a private good, the less civic interest there is in defending them as a public good. And they are also fighting at the beginning of their lives, both for what kind of world they want to live in and against the constraints of indenture that we see when this process of privatization and debt reaches its ultimate conclusion — a path the United States is much further along.

Huge student protest movement continues in Canada | Counterfire

Canadian students are demonstrating against a hike in tuition fees in the province of Quebec that would see fees increased over 5 years – practically doubling to almost $3,800. Tuition fees in Quebec haven’t risen for 40 years but the Charest government is adamant it won’t back down in the face of protest.

Since the 19th March the city of Montreal has witnessed almost daily actions against the impending government decision. Just two days after the provincial budget was announced a demonstration of over 300,000 students, and spanning up to five kilometres at points took place in Montreal. The Quebec government have seen a number of protests against them this spring. However, echoing vibrant student movements the world over, media report that Thursday’s demo was larger even than the 1995 pre-referendum rally and demonstrations against the US invasion of Iraq.