Andrew Gavin Marshall

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Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement

Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

The student strikes in Quebec, which began in February and have lasted for three months, involving roughly 175,000 students in the mostly French-speaking Canadian province, have been subjected to a massive provincial and national media propaganda campaign to demonize and dismiss the students and their struggle. The following is a list of ten points that everyone should know about the student movement in Quebec to help place their struggle in its proper global context.

1)            The issue is debt, not tuition

2)            Striking students in Quebec are setting an example for youth across the continent

3)            The student strike was organized through democratic means and with democratic aims

4)            This is not an exclusively Quebecois phenomenon

5)            Government officials and the media have been openly calling for violence and “fascist” tactics to be used against the students

6)            Excessive state violence has been used against the students

7)            The government supports organized crime and opposes organized students

8)            Canada’s elites punish the people and oppose the students

9)            The student strike is being subjected to a massive and highly successful propaganda campaign to discredit, dismiss, and demonize the students

10)            The student movement is part of a much larger emerging global movement of resistance against austerity, neoliberalism, and corrupt power

1)            The issue is debt, not tuition: In dismissing the students, who are striking against a 75% increase in the cost of tuition over the next five years, the most common argument used is in pointing out that Quebec students pay the lowest tuition in North America, and therefore, they should not be complaining. Even with the 75% increase, they will still be paying substantially lower than most other provinces. Quebec students pay on average $2,500 per year in tuition, while the rest of Canada’s students pay on average $5,000 per year. With the tuition increase of $1,625 spread out over five years, the total tuition cost for Quebec students would be roughly $4,000. The premise here is that since the rest of Canada has it worse, Quebec students should shut up, sit down, and accept “reality.” THIS IS FALSE. In playing the “numbers game,” commentators and their parroting public repeat the tuition costs but fail to add in the numbers which represent the core issue: DEBT. So, Quebec students pay half the average national tuition. True. But they also graduate with half the average national student debt. With the average tuition at $5,000/year, the average student debt for an undergraduate in Canada is $27,000, while the average debt for an undergraduate in Quebec is $13,000. With interest rates expected to increase, in the midst of a hopeless job situation for Canadian youth, Canada’s youth face a future of debt that “is bankrupting a generation of students.” The notion, therefore, that Quebec students should not struggle against a bankrupt future is a bankrupted argument.

2)            Striking students in Quebec are setting an example for youth across the continent: Nearly 60% of Canadian students graduate with debt, on average at $27,000 for an undergraduate degree. Total student debt now stands at about $20 billion in Canada ($15 billion from Federal Government loans programs, and the rest from provincial and commercial bank loans). In Quebec, the average student debt is $15,000, whereas Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have an average student debt of $35,000, British Columbia at nearly $30,000 and Ontario at nearly $27,000. Roughly 70% of new jobs in Canada require a post-secondary education. Half of students in their 20s live at home with their parents, including 73 per cent of those aged 20 to 24 and nearly a third of 25- to 29-year-olds. On average, a four-year degree for a student living at home in Canada costs $55,000, and those costs are expected to increase in coming years at a rate faster than inflation. It has been estimated that in 18 years, a four-year degree for Canadian students will cost $102,000. Defaults on government student loans are at roughly 14%. The Chairman of the Canadian Federation of Students warned in June of 2011 that, “We are on the verge of bankrupting a generation before they even enter the workplace.” This immense student debt affects every decision made in the lives of young graduates. With few jobs, enormous housing costs, the cutting of future benefits and social security, students are entering an economy which holds very little for them in opportunities. Women, minorities, and other marginalized groups are in an even more disadvantaged position. Canadian students are increasingly moving back home and relying more and more upon their parents for support. An informal Globe and Mail poll in early May of 2012 (surveying 2,200 students), “shows that students across Canada share a similar anxiety over rising tuition fees” as that felt in Quebec. Roughly 62% of post-secondary students said they would join a similar strike in their own province, while 32% said they would not, and 5.9% were undecided. In Ontario, where tuition is the highest in Canada, 69% said they would support a strike against increasing tuition. A Quebec research institution released a report in late March of 2012 indicating that increasing the cost of tuition for students is creating a “student debt bubble” akin to the housing bubble in the United States, and with interest rates set to increase, “today’s students may well find themselves in the same situation of not being able to pay off their student loans.” The authors of the report from the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-economique explained that, “Since governments underwrite those loans, if students default it could be catastrophic for public finances,” and that, “If the bubble explodes, it could be just like the mortgage crisis.” In the United States, the situation is even worse. In March of 2012, the Federal Reserve reported that 27 percent of student borrowers whose loans have gone into repayment are now delinquent on their debt.” Student debt in the United States has reached $1 trillion, “passing total credit card debt along the way.” It has become a threat to the entire existence of the middle class in America. Bankruptcy lawyers in the US are “seeing the telltale signs of a student loan debt bubble.” A recent survey from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) indicated, “more than 80 percent of bankruptcy lawyers have seen a substantial increase in the number of clients seeking relief from student loans in recent years.” The head of the NACBA stated, “This could very well be the next debt bomb for the U.S. economy.” In 1993, 45% of students who earn a bachelor’s degree had to go into debt; today, it is 94%. The average student debt in the United States in 2011 was $23,300, with 10% owning more than $54,000 and 3% owing more than $100,000. President Obama has addressed the situation by simply providing more loans to students. A recent survey of graduates revealed that 40% of them “had delayed making a major purchase, like a home or car, because of college debt, while slightly more than a quarter had put off continuing their education or had moved in with relatives to save money,” and 50% of those surveyed had full-time jobs. Between 2001 and 2011, “state and local financing per student declined by 24 percent nationally.” In the same period of time, “tuition and fees at state schools increased 72 percent.” It would appear that whether in the United States, Canada, or even beyond, the decisions made by schools, banks, and the government, are geared toward increasing the financial burden on students and families, and increasing profits for themselves. The effect will be to plunge the student and youth population into poverty over the coming years. Thus, the student movement in Quebec, instead of being portrayed as “entitled brats” elsewhere, are actually setting an example for students and youth across the continent and beyond. Since Quebec tuition is the lowest on the continent, it gives all the more reason that other students should follow Quebec’s example, instead of Quebec students being told to follow the rest of the country (and continent) into debt bondage.

3)            The student strike was organized through democratic means and with democratic aims: The decision to strike was made through student associations and organizations that uniquely operate through direct-democracy. While most student associations at schools across Canada hold elections where students choose the members of the associations, the democratic accountability ends there (just like with government). Among the Francophone schools in Quebec, the leaders are not only elected by the students, but decisions are made through general assemblies, debate and discussion, and through the votes of the actual constituents, the members of the student associations, not just the leaders. This means that the student associations that voted to strike are more democratically accountable and participatory than most other student associations, and certainly the government. It represents a more profound and meaningful working definition of democracy that is lacking across the rest of the country. The Anglophone student associations that went on strike – from Concordia and McGill – did so because, for the first time ever, they began to operate through direct-democracy. This of course, has resulted in insults and derision from the media. The national media in Canada – most especially the National Post – complain that the student “tactics are anything but democratic,” and that the students aren’t acting in a democratic way, but that “it’s really mob rule.” Obviously, it is naïve to assume that the National Post has any sort of understanding of democracy.

4)            This is not an exclusively Quebecois phenomenon: I am an Anglophone, I don’t even speak French, I have only lived in Montreal for under two years, but the strikers are struggling as much for me as for any other student, Francophone or Anglophone. Typically, when others across Canada see what is taking place here, they frame it along the lines of, “Oh those Quebecois, always yelling about something.” But I’m yelling too… in English. Many people here are yelling… in English. It is true that the majority of the students protesting are Francophone, and the majority of the schools on strike are Francophone, but it is not exclusionary. In fact, the participation in the strike from the Anglophone schools (while a minority within the schools) is unprecedented in Quebec history. This was undertaken because students began mobilizing at the grassroots and emulating the French student groups in how they make decisions (i.e., through direct-democracy). The participation of Anglophone students in the open-ended strike is unprecedented in Quebec history.

5)            Government officials and the media have been openly calling for violence and “fascist” tactics to be used against the students: With all the focus on student violence at protests, breaking bank windows, throwing rocks at riot police, and other acts of vandalism, student leaders have never called for violence against the government or vandalism against property, and have, in fact, denounced it and spoken out for calm, stating: “The student movement wants to fight alongside the populace and not against it.” On the other hand, it has been government officials and the national media which have been openly calling for violence to be used against students. On May 11, Michael Den Tandt, writing for the National Post, stated that, “It’s time for tough treatment of Quebec student strikers,” and recommended to Quebec Premier Jean Charest that, “He must bring down the hammer.” Tandt claimed that there was “a better way” to deal with student protesters: “Dispersal with massive use of tear gas; then arrest, public humiliation, and some pain.” He even went on to suggest that, “caning is more merciful than incarceration,” or perhaps even re-imagining the medieval punishment in which “miscreants and ne’er-do-wells were placed in the stockade, in the public square, and pelted with rotten cabbages. That might not be a bad idea, either.” This, Tandt claimed, would be the only way to preserve “peace, order, and good government.” Kelly McParland, writing the for National Post on May 11, suggested that it was now time for Charest to “empower the police to use the full extent of the law against those who condone or pursue further disruption,” and that the government must make a “show of strength” against the students. If this was not bad enough, get ready for this: A member of the Quebec Liberal Party, head of the tax office in the Municipal Affairs Department, Bernard Guay, wrote an article for a French-language newspaper in Quebec in mid-April advocating a strategy to “end the student strikes.” In the article, the government official recommended using the fascist movements of the 1920s and 1930s as an example in how to deal with “leftists” in giving them “their own medicine.” He suggested organizing a political “cabal” to handle the “wasteful and anti-social” situation, which would mobilize students to not only cross picket lines, but to confront and assault students who wear the little red square (the symbol of the student strike). This, Guay suggested, would help society “overcome the tyranny of Leftist agitators,” no doubt by emulating fascist tyranny. The article was eventually pulled and an apology was issued, while a government superior supposedly reprimanded Guay, though the government refused to elaborate on what that consisted of. Just contemplate this for a moment: A Quebec Liberal government official recommended using “inspiration” from fascist movements to attack the striking students. Imagine if one of the student associations had openly called for violence, let alone for the emulation of fascism. It would be national news, and likely lead to arrests and charges. But since it was a government official, barely a peep was heard.

6)            Excessive state violence has been used against the students: Throughout the three months of protests from students in Quebec, the violence has almost exclusively been blamed on the students. Images of protesters throwing rocks and breaking bank windows inundate the media and ‘inform’ the discourse, demonizing the students as violent, vandals, and destructive. Meanwhile, the reality of state violence being used against the students far exceeds any of the violent reactions from protesters, but receives far less coverage. Riot police meet students with pepper spray, tear gas, concussion grenades, smoke bombs, beating them with batons, shoot them with rubber bullets, and have even been driving police cars and trucks into groups of students. On May 4, on the 42nd anniversary of the Kent State massacre in which the U.S. National Guard murdered four protesting students, Quebec almost experienced its own Kent State, when several students were critically injured by police, shot with rubber bullets in the face. One student lost an eye, and another remains in the hospital with serious head injuries, including a skull fracture and brain contusion. The Quebec provincial police – the SQ – have not only been involved in violent repression of student protests in Quebec, but have also (along with the RCMP) been involved in training foreign police forces how to violently repress their own populations, such as in Haiti. Roughly 12,000 people in Quebec have signed a petition against the police reaction to student protests, stipulating that the police actions have been far too violent.  In late April, even before the Quebec police almost killed a couple students, Amnesty International “asked the government to call for a toning down of police measures that… are unduly aggressive and might potentially smother students’ right to free expression.” The Quebec government, of course, defends police violence against students and youths. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – Canada’s spy agency – has recently announced its interest in “gathering intelligence” on Quebec student protesters and related groups as “possible threats to national security.” Coincidentally, Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismantled the government agency responsible for oversight of CSIS, making the agency essentially unaccountable. In reaction to student protests, the City of Montreal is considering banning masks being worn at protests in a new bylaw which is being voted on without public consultation. Thus, apparently it is fine for police to wear gas masks as they shoot chemical agents at Quebec’s youth, but students cannot attempt to even meagerly protect themselves by covering their faces. The federal Conservative government of Stephen Harper is attempting to pass a law that bans masks at protests, which includes a ten-year sentence for “rioters who wear masks.” Quebec has even established a secretive police unit called the GAMMA squad to monitor political groups in the province, which has already targeted and arrested members of the leading student organization behind the strike. The police unit is designed to monitor “anarchists” and “marginal political groups.” Some political groups have acknowledged this as “a declaration of war” by the government against such groups. Spokesperson for the largest student group, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, stated that, “This squad is really a new kind of political police to fight against social movements.” The situation of police repression has become so prevalent that even the U.S. State Department has warned Americans to stay away from student protests in the city, “as bystanders can quickly be caught up in unforeseen violence and in some cases, detained by the local police.”

7)            The government supports organized crime and opposes organized students: The government claims that it must increase the cost of tuition in order to balance the budget and to increase the “competitiveness” of schools. The government has ignored, belittled, undermined, attempted to divide, and outright oppress the student movement. The Liberal Government of Quebec, in short, has declared organized students to be enemies of the state. Meanwhile, that same government has no problem of working with and supporting organized crime, namely, the Montreal Mafia. In 2010, Quebec, under Premier Jean Charest, was declared to be “the most corrupt province” in Canada. A former opposition leader in the Montreal city hall reported that, “the Italian mafia controls about 80 per cent of city hall.” The mafia is a “big player” in the Quebec economy, and “is deeply entrenched in city affairs” of Montreal, as “more than 600 businesses pay Mafia protection money in Montreal alone, handing organized crime leaders an unprecedented degree of control of Quebec’s economy.” The construction industry, especially, is heavily linked to the mafia. The Montreal Mafia is as influential as their Sicilian counterparts, where “all of the major infrastructure work in Sicily is under Mafia control.” In 2009, a government official stated that, “It’s Montreal’s Italian Mafia that controls what is going on in road construction. They control, from what we can tell, 80 per cent of the contracts.” In the fall of 2011, an internal report written by the former Montreal police chief for the government was leaked, stating, “We have discovered a firmly rooted, clandestine universe on an unexpected scale, harmful to our society on the level of safety and economics and of justice and democracy.” The report added, “Suspicions are persistent that an evil empire is taking form in the highway construction domain,” and that, “If there were to be an intensification of influence-peddling in the political sphere, we would no longer simply be talking about marginal, or even parallel criminal activities: we could suspect an infiltration or even a takeover of certain functions of the state.” Quebec Premier Jean Charest, for several years, rejected calls for a public inquiry into corruption in the construction industry, even as the head of Quebec’s anti-collusion squad called for such an inquiry. An opposition party in Quebec stated that Jean Charest “is protecting the (Quebec) Liberal party – and in protecting the Liberal party, Mr. Charest is protecting the Mafia, organized crime.” After the leaked report revealed “cost overruns totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, kickbacks and illegal donations to political parties,” Charest had to – after two years of refusing – open a public inquiry into corruption. The Quebec mafia have not only “run gambling and prostitution and imported stupefying amounts of illegal drugs into Canada, but they have extended their influence to elected civic and provincial governments, and to Liberal and Conservative federal governments through bribery and other ‘illustrious relations’.” The Federal Conservative Party of Canada, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as its leader, received dozens of donations from Mafia-connected construction and engineering firm employees. The Mafia-industry has also donated to the Federal Liberal Party, but less so than the Conservatives, who hold power. In Quebec, government officials have helped the Mafia charge far more for public-works contracts than they were worth. These Mafia companies would then use a lot of that extra money to fund political parties, most notably, the Liberals, who have been in power for nine years. A former Montreal police officer who worked in the intelligence unit with access to the police’s confidential list of informants was suspected of selling information to the mafia. In January of 2012, he was found dead, reportedly of a suicide. In April of 2012, fifteen arrests were made in Montreal by the police in relation to corruption charges linked to the Mafia. Among them were one of the biggest names in the construction industry, with 14 individual facing conspiracy charges “involving municipal contracts associated with the Mascouche water-treatment plants [that] are connected to big construction, engineering and law firms that have been involved in municipal contracts and politics across the Montreal region for decades. And the individuals have been around the municipal world for years.” One Quebec mayor has even been charged. The Montreal police force has “not been very interested, and it should be,” in helping the anti-corruption investigation. Two of those who were arrested included Quebec Liberal Party fundraisers, one of whom Charest personally delivered an award to in 2010 for his “years of service as an organizer.” All three of Quebec’s main political parties were connected to individuals arrested in the raids. Canada’s federal police force, the RCMP, have refused to cooperate with the Mafia-corruption inquiry in handing over their massive amounts of information to the judge leading the inquiry. Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp, who has been leading the government assault against the students, attended a political fundraiser for herself which was attended by a notorious Mafia figure who personally “donated generously to the minister’s Liberal riding association.” As these revelations emerged, Beauchamp stated, “I don’t know the individual in question and even today I wouldn’t be able to recognize him.” At the time, Beauchamp was the Environment Minister, and was responsible for granting the Mafia figure’s company a favourable certificate to expand its business. Beauchamp claimed she did not know about the deal, but as head of the Ministry which handled it, either she is utterly incompetent or a liar. Either way, she is clearly not fit for “public service” if it amounts to nothing more than “service to the Mafia.” The fact that she is now responsible for increasing tuition and leading the attack on students speaks volumes.  Line Beauchamp, when questioned about taking political contributions from the Mafia, stated, “Now that the information is public and the links well established, I would not put myself in that position again.” Well isn’t that reassuring? Now that it’s public, she wouldn’t do it again. That’s sort of like saying, “I wouldn’t have committed the crime if I knew I was going to be caught.” The notion that Beauchamp didn’t know whom this Mafia figure was who was giving her money is absurd. It’s even more absurd when you note that one of Beauchamp’s political attaches was a 30-year veteran of the Montreal police force. As one Quebec political figure commented about the Liberal Government’s Mafia links: “They refuse to sit down with a student leader but they have breakfast with a mafioso … where is the logic in that?” Indeed. It’s clear that the Quebec government has no problem working with, handing out contracts to, and taking money from the Mafia and organized crime. In fact, they are so integrated that the government itself is a form of organized crime. But for that government, and for the media boot-lickers who follow the government line, organized students are the true threat to Quebec. National newspapers declare Quebec students following “mob rule” when it’s actually the government that is closely connected to “mob rule.” The students are challenging and being repressed by a Mafioso-government alliance of industrialists, politicians, financiers and police… yet it is the students who are blamed for everything. The government gives the Mafia public contracts double or triple their actual value, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars (if not more), while students are being asked to pay nearly double their current tuition. There’s money for the mob, but scraps for the students.

8)            Canada’s elites punish the people and oppose the students: It’s not simply the government of Quebec which has set itself against the students, sought to increase their tuition and repress their resistance, often with violent means, but a wide sector of elite society in Quebec and Canada propose tuition increases and blind faith to the state in managing its repression of a growing social movement. As such, the student movement should recognize that not simply are Jean Charest and his Liberal-Mafia government the antagonists of social justice, but the whole elite society itself. As early as 2007, TD Bank, one of Canada’s big five banks, outlined a “plan for prosperity” for the province of Quebec, and directly recommended Quebec to raise tuition costs for students. Naturally, the Quebec government is more likely to listen to a bank than the youth of the province. Banks of course, have an interest in increasing tuition costs for students, as they provide student loans and lines of credit which they charge interest on and make profits. The Royal Bank of Canada acknowledged that student lines of credit are “very popular products.” Elites of all sorts support the tuition increases. In February of 2010, a group of “prominent” (i.e., elitist) Quebecers signed a letter proposing to increase Quebec’s tuition costs. Among the signatories were the former Premier of Quebec for the Parti Quebecois, Lucien Bouchard.  In early May, a letter was published in the Montreal Gazette which stated that students need to pay more for their education in Quebec, signed by the same elitists who proposed the tuition increase back in February of 2010. Initially, this group of elitists had proposed an increase of $1,000 every year for three years. The letter then calls for the application of state power to be employed against the student movement: “It is time that we react. We must reinstate order; the students have to return to class… This is a situation when, regardless of political allegiances, the population must support the state, which is ultimately responsible for public order, the safety of individuals and the integrity of our institutions.” The “integrity” of institutions which cooperate with the Mafia, I might add. What incredible integrity! The letter was signed by Lucien Bouchard, former Premier of Quebec; Michel Audet, an economist and former Finance Minister in the first Charest government in Quebec; Françoise Bertrand, the President and chief executive officer of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (The Quebec Federation of Chambers of Commerce), where she sits alongside the presidents and executives of major Canadian corporations, banks, and business interests. She also sits on the board of directors of Quebecor Inc., a major media conglomerate, with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on its board. Another signatory was Yves-Thomas Dorval, President of the Quebec Employers’ Council, who formerly worked for British American Tobacco Group, former Vice President at Edelman Canada, an international public relations firm, was a director at a pharmaceutical corporation, head of strategic planning at an insurance company, and previously worked for the Government of Quebec and Hydro-Quebec. Joseph Facal, another signatory to the letter demanding higher tuition and state repression of students, is former president of the Quebec Treasury Board, and was a cabinet minister in the Quebec government of Lucien Bouchard. Other signatories include Pierre Fortin, a professor emeritus at the Université du Québec à Montréal; Michel Gervais, the former rector of Université Laval; Monique Jérôme-Forget, former finance minister of Quebec and former president of the Quebec Treasury Board, member of the Quebec Liberal Party between 1998 and 2009, was responsible for introducing public-private partnerships in Quebec’s infrastructure development (which saw enormous cooperation with the Mafia), and is on the board of directors of Astral Media. Robert Lacroix, another co-signer, was former rector of the Université de Montréal is also a fellow at CIRANO, a Montreal-based think tank which is governed by a collection of university heads, business executives, and bankers, including representatives from Power Corporation (owned by the Desmarais family). Another signatory is Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, a prominent business organization in Montreal, of which the board of directors includes a number of corporate executives, mining company representatives, university board members, bankers and Hélène Desmarais, who married into the Desmarais family. Another signatory is Claude Montmarquette, professor emeritus at the Université de Montréal, who is also a member of the elitist CIRANO think tank, which as a “research institution” (for elites) has recommended increasing Quebec’s tuition costs for several years. Another signatory was Marcel Boyer, a Bell Canada Professor of industrial economics at the Université de Montréal, Vice-president and chief economist at the Montreal Economic Institute, is the C.D. Howe Scholar in Economic Policy at the C.D. Howe Institute, Member of the Board of the Agency for Public-Private Partnerships of Québec, and Visiting Senior Research Advisor for industrial economics at Industry Canada. At the Montreal Economic Institute, Boyer sits alongside notable elitists, bankers, and corporate executives, including Hélène Desmarais, who married into the Desmarais family (the most powerful family in Canada). At the C.D. Howe Institute, Boyer works for even more elitists, as the board of directors is made up of some of Canada’s top bankers, corporate executives, and again includes Hélène Desmarais. The Desmarais family, who own Power Corporation and its many subsidiaries, as well as a number of foreign corporations in Europe and China, are Canada’s most powerful family. The patriarch, Paul Desmarais Sr., has had extremely close business and even family ties to every Canadian Prime Minister since Pierre Trudeau, and all Quebec premiers (save two) in the past several decades. The Desmarais’ have strong links to the Parti Quebecois, the Liberals, Conservatives, and even the NDP, and socialize with presidents and prime ministers around the world, as well as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and even Spanish royalty. Paul Desmarais Sr. has “a disproportionate influence on politics and the economy in Quebec and Canada,” and he especially “has a lot of influence on Premier Jean Charest.” When former French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave Desmarais the French Legion of Honour, Desmarais brought Jean Charest with him. Quebec author Robin Philpot commented that Desmarais “took him along like a poodle,” referring to Charest. The Desmarais family has extensive ties to Canadian and especially Quebec politicians, have extensive interests in Canadian and international corporations and banks, are closely tied to major national and international think tanks (including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group), and even host an annual international think tank conference in Montreal, the Conference of Montreal. The Desmarais family have had very close ties to Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, and even Stephen Harper, and to Quebec premiers, including Lucien Bouchard, who co-authored the article in the Gazette advocating increased tuition. The Desmarais empire also includes ownership of seven of the ten French newspapers in Quebec, including La Presse. The Desmarais family stand atop a parasitic Canadian oligarchy, which has bankers and corporate executives controlling the entire economy, political parties, the media, think tanks which set policy, and even our educational institutions, with the chancellors of both Concordia and McGill universities serving on the boards of the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of Canada, respectively, as well as both schools having extensive leadership ties to Power Corporation and the Desmarais family. It is this very oligarchy which demands the people pay more, go further into debt, suffer and descend into poverty, while they make record profits. In March of 2012, Power Corporation reported fourth quarter profits of $314 million, with yearly earnings at over $1.1 billion. Canada’s banks last year made record profits, and then decided to increase bank fees. At the end of April, it was reported that Canada’s banks had received a “secret bailout” back in 2008/09, from both the Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve, amounting to roughly $114 billion, or $3,400 for every Canadian man, woman, and child (more than the cost of yearly tuition in Quebec). And yet Quebec youth are told we suffer from “entitlement.” And now banks are expected to be making even more profits, as reported in early May. As banks make more record profits, Canadians are going deeper into debt. The big Canadian banks, along with the federal government, have colluded to create a massive housing bubble in Canada, most especially in Toronto and Vancouver, and with average Canadian household debt at $103,000, most of which is held in mortgages, and with the Bank of Canada announcing its intent to raise interest rates, Canada is set for a housing crisis like that seen in the United States in 2008, forcing the people to suffer while the banks make a profit. The head of the Bank of Canada (a former Goldman Sachs executive) said that Canadian household debt is the biggest threat to the Canadian economy, but don’t worry, Canada’s Finance Minister said he is working in close cooperation with the big banks to intervene in the housing market if necessary, which would likely mean another bailout for the big banks, and of course, hand the check to you! So, Canada has its priorities: every single Canadian man, woman, and child owes $3,400 for a secret bank bailout to banks that are now making record profits and increasing their fees, while simultaneously explaining that there is no money for education, so we will have to pay more for that, too, which is something those same banks demand our governments do to us. When the students stand up, they are said to be “brats” and whining about “entitlements.” But then, what does that make the banks? This is why I argue that Canada’s elites are parasitic in their very nature, slowly draining the host (that’s us!) of its life until there is nothing left the extract.

9)            The student strike is being subjected to a massive and highly successful propaganda campaign to discredit, dismiss, and demonize the students: In the vast majority of coverage on the student strike and protests in Quebec, the media and its many talking heads have undertaken a major propaganda campaign against the students. The students have been consistently ignored, dismissed, derided, insulted and attacked. One Canadian newspaper said it was “hard to feel sorry” for Quebec students, who were “whining and crying” and “kicking up a fuss,” treating Canada’s young generation like ungrateful children throwing a collective tantrum. In almost every article about the student strike, the main point brought up to dismiss the students is that Quebec has the lowest tuition costs in North America. The National Post published a column written by a third-year political science student at McGill University in Montreal stating that, “Quebec students must pay their share,” and advised people to “ignore the overheated rhetoric from student strikers,” and that, “Jean Charest must go full steam ahead.” The student author, Brendan Steven, is co-founder of McGill’s Moderate Political Action Committee (ModPAC), which is an organizing mobilizing McGill students in opposition to the strike. Steven’s organization attacked striking student associations as “illegitimate, unconstitutional shams” and attacked the democratic functioning of other student associations holding general assemblies. Steven complained that the democratic general assemblies “are being invented on a whim.” Brendan Steven not only gets to write columns for the National Post, but gets interviewed on CBC. Steven’s anti-strike group sent a letter to the McGill administration complaining about pro-strike students on the campus, writing, “This group violates our democratic right to access an education without fear of harm,” and added: “We are demanding the McGill administration take action against this minority group before the current conflicts escalate into disasters. They have proven they will not remain peaceful.” As a lap-dog boot-licking power worshipper, Brendan Steven has a future for himself in politics, that’s for sure! Back in January, Steven wrote an article for the Huffington Post in which he explained that the reason why CEOs get paid so much is because “they’re worth it.” He referred to Milton Friedman – the father of neoliberalism – as a “great economic thinker.” Back in November of 2011, Steven wrote an article for the McGill Daily entitled, “Do not demonize authorities,” and then went on to justify police violence against protesting students engaged in an occupation of a school building, which he characterized as “an inherently hostile act.” Steven later got an opportunity to appear on CBC’s The Current. Margaret Wente, writing for the Globe and Mail, wrote that, “It’s a little hard for the rest of us to muster sympathy for Quebec’s downtrodden students, who pay the lowest tuition fees in all of North America.” She then referred to the striking students as “the baristas of tomorrow and they don’t even know it.” Wente then attempted to explain the Quebec students by writing: “Now I get it: The kids are on another planet.” Interesting how she used the word “kids” to just add a little extra condescension. But it seems clear that Wente “gets” very little. In an August 2011 column, Wente tried to explain why poor black communities in Britain and America were experiencing riots and gang activity, placing blame on “single-mothers” and “family breakdown,” and explained that, “Rootless, unmoored young men with no stake in society are a major threat to social order.” Explaining this demographic in economic terms, Wente wrote: “They are, quite simply, surplus to requirements.” In another column, Wente argued that helping deliver much-needed humanitarian supplies to Gaza would “enable terrorists.” Wente also wrote an article entitled, “The poor are doing better than you think,” suggesting that it’s not so bad for poor people because they have air conditioning, DVD players, and cable TV. Wente has been consistently critical of the Occupy movement, and suggested in another article that, “the biggest economic challenge we face today is not income inequality, greedy corporations, Wall Street corruption or the concentration of wealth among the top 1 per cent. It’s the increasing failure of young men with high-school degrees or less to latch on to the world of work.” Of course, in Wente’s world, the inability of young men to get a job has nothing to do with income inequality, greedy corporations, Wall Street corruption or the concentration of wealth. In another article criticizing the Occupy movement, Wente managed to argue that it was not Wall Street and bankers that have destroyed the economy and left people without jobs, but rather what she refers to as the “virtueocracy,” blaming unions, single mothers who gets masters degrees in social sciences, and people who want to work at NGOs and non-profits, doing “transformational, world-saving work.” So it’s Wente’s “insightful” voice which is “informing” Canadians about the student movement in Quebec. Other Canadian publications writing about the Quebec student strike have headlines like, “Reality check for the entitled,” repeating the idiotic argument that because Quebec students pay less than the rest of Canada, they shouldn’t be “complaining” about the hikes. Andrew Coyne wrote a syndicated column in which he claimed that, “Quebec students know violence works,” framing the protest at which police almost killed two students as an action “of general rage the students had promised.” With no mention of the student who lost an eye, or the other student who ended up in the hospital with critical head injuries, Coyne talked about a cop who “was beaten savagely” and “lay helpless on the ground.” No mention, of course, of the police truck that drove into a group of students moments later, or the fact that the cop who was “beaten savagely” got away with minor injuries, unlike the students who were shot in the face with rubber bullets. By simply omitting police brutality and violence, Coyne presented the student movement as itself inherently violent, instead of at times erupting in violent reactions to state violence, which is far more extreme in every case. The Toronto Sun even had an article which claimed that the students have employed tactics of “thuggery” and “violent criminal behaviour.” Publications regularly ask their readers if Quebec students have “legitimate” grievances, if they are fighting for “social justice,” or if they are just “spoiled brats.” A syndicated column from the Vancouver Sun by Licia Corbella was titled, “How rioting students help make me grateful.” She discussed her latest visit to church where the pastor advised: “Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them,” and mentioned how parents anger their children by “belittling them, underestimating them and not treating them as individuals.” Corbella then took particular note of how parents provoke and enrage children “when we give them a sense of entitlement.” With the word “entitlement,” Corbella naturally then began thinking about Quebec students, as according to Corbella’s pastor, “entitlement leads to rage.” Corbella wrote that rioting “is, in essence, what a spoiled two-year-old would do if they had the ability.” She further wrote: “In Quebec, these entitled youth, who believe the rest of society MUST provide them with an almost free education or else, have blocked other students from accessing the educations they paid for, burned vehicles, smashed shop windows, looted property and severely beaten up a police officer who got separated from the rest of his colleagues.” Again, no mention of the two students who were almost killed by police at the same event. Corbella quoted someone interviewed on TV, endorsing the claim that the student protests are “starting to resemble terrorism,” though she took issue with the word “starting.” This is the result of creating, according to Corbell, “an entitlement society.” Apparently, the pastor’s lesson about not “belittling” the young did not sink in with Corbella. An article in the Chronicle Herald asked, “What planet are these kids on?” The author then wrote that, “the irony is that these students now want the system to accommodate their desires and for someone else to pay the bill,” and that, “students should stop making foolish demands.” Other articles claim that students “need a lesson in economics.” After all, the fact that the majority of economists, fully armed with “lessons in economics,” were unable to predict the massive global economic crisis in 2008, should obviously not lead to any questioning of the ideology of modern economic theory. No, it would be better for students to learn about the ocean from those who couldn’t see a tsunami as it approached the beach. Another article, written by a former speechwriter to the Prime Minister of Canada, wrote that the student arguments were vacuous and that the youth were in a “state of complete denial.” Rex Murphy, a commentator with the National Post and CBC, referred to the student strike as “short-sighted” and that student actions were “crude attempts at precipitating a crisis.” Student actions, he claimed, were the “actions of a mob” and were “simply wrong,” and thus, should be “condemned.” The CBC has been particularly terrible in their coverage of the student movement. With few exceptions, the Canadian media have established a consensus in opposition to the student protests, and use techniques of omission, distortion, or outright condemnation in order to promote a distinctly anti-student stance.

10)            The student movement is part of a much larger emerging global movement of resistance against austerity, neoliberalism, and corrupt power: In the coverage and discourse about the student movement, very little context is given in placing this student movement in a wider global context. The British newspaper, The Guardian, acknowledged this context, commenting on the red squares worn by striking students (a symbol of going squarely into the red, into debt), explaining that they have “become a symbol of the most powerful challenge to neoliberalism on the continent.” The article also adopted the term promoted by the student movement itself to describe the wider social context of the protests, calling it the “Maple Spring.” The author placed the fight against tuition increases in the context of a struggle against austerity measures worldwide, writing: “Forcing students to pay more for education is part of a transfer of wealth from the poor and middle-class to the rich – as with privatization and the state’s withdrawal from service-provision, tax breaks for corporations and deep cuts to social programs.” The article noted how the student movement has linked up with civic groups against a Quebec government plan to subsidize mining companies in exploiting the natural resources of Northern Quebec (Plan Nord), taking land from indigenous peoples to give to multibillion dollar corporations. As one of the student leaders stated, the protest was about more than tuition and was aimed at the elite class itself, “Those people are a single elite, a greedy elite, a corrupt elite, a vulgar elite, an elite that only sees education as an investment in human capital, that only sees a tree as a piece of paper and only sees a child as a future employee.” The student strike has thus become a social movement. The protests aim at economic disruption through civil disobedience, and have garnered the support of thousands of protesters, and 200,000 protesters on March 22, and close to 300,000 on April 22. Protests have blocked entrances to banks, disrupted a conference for the Plan Nord exploitation, linking the movement with indigenous and environmental groups. It was only when the movement began to align with other social movements and issues that the government even accepted the possibility of speaking to students. Unions have also increasingly been supporting the student strike, including with large financial contributions. Though, the large union support for the student movement was also involved in attempted co-optation and undermining of the students. At the negotiations between the government and the students, the union leaders convinced the student leaders to accept the deal, which met none of the student demands and kept the tuition increases intact. There was a risk that the major unions were essentially aiming to undermine the student movement. But the student groups, which had to submit the agreement to democratic votes, rejected the horrible government offer. Thus the Maple Spring continues. Quebec is not the only location with student protests taking place. In Chile, a massive student movement has emerged and developed over the past year, changing the politics of the country and challenging the elites and the society they have built for their own benefit. One of the leaders of the Chilean student movement is a 23-year old young woman, Camila Vallejo, who has attained celebrity status. In Quebec’s student movement, the most visible and vocal leader is 21-year old Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who has also achieved something of celebrity status within the province. Just as in Quebec, student protests in Chile are met with state violence, though in the Latin American country, the apparatus of state violence is the remnants of a U.S.-supported military dictatorship. Still, this does not stop tens of thousands of students going out into the streets in Santiago, as recently as late April. Protests by students have also been emerging elsewhere, often in cooperation and solidarity with the Occupy movement and other anti-austerity protests. Silent protests are emerging at American universities where students are protesting their massive debts. California students have been increasingly protesting increased tuition costs. Student protests at UC Berkeley ended with 12 citations for trespassing. Some students in California have even begun a hunger strike against tuition increases. In Brooklyn, New York, students protesting against tuition increases, many of them wearing the Quebec “red square” symbol, were assaulted by police officers. Even high school students in New York have been protesting. Israeli social activists are back on the streets protesting against austerity measures. An Occupy group has resumed protests in London. The Spanish indignado movement, which began in May of 2011, saw a resurgence on the one year anniversary, with another round of anti-austerity protests in Spain, bringing tens of thousands of protesters, mostly youths, out into the streets of Madrid, and more than 100,000 across the country. Their protest was met with police repression. Increasingly, students, the Occupy movement, and other social groups are uniting in protests against the costs of higher education and the debts of students. This is indeed the context in which the ‘Maple Spring’ – the Quebec student movement – should be placed, as part of a much broader global anti-austerity movement.

So march on, students. Show Quebec, Canada, and the world what it takes to oppose parasitic elites, mafia-connected politicians, billionaire bankers, and seek to change a social, political, and economic system that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Solidarity, brothers and sisters!

For a comprehensive analysis of the Quebec student strike, see: “The Québec Student Strike: From ‘Maple Spring’ to Summer Rebellion?”

For up to date news and information of student movements around the world, join this Facebook page: We Are the Youth Revolution.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on


  1. Kristina says:

    As a student who has participated in protests for nearly 12 weeks, my opinion on the topic is obviously biased. As at least a supporter of the movement, your opinion is clearly biased as well. It’s hard to view your words as anything other than propaganda for our side, just like the newspapers are viewed as propaganda for their side.

    You could come up with another 100 points and it wouldn’t change a thing. Participants in the movement will applaud your post and re-share on the social networks. Conversely, those against the movement will read your post and tune out around point #5.

    Stick to unbiased writing if you want to be taken seriously. Or, stick to biased writing if you want to be viewed as a champion of the people.

    • dave says:

      I agree with you I am not at all involved with this issue just looking into it and at #5 I felt it was going in a certain direction. The reason is that the article claim that the actions of a few student does not constitute the main body but the actions of one reporter and one government official are reflective of the whole media and government. I then sped read the rest.
      I do emphasize with the students however for I know how media and politicians will keep telling themselves the same stories over and over again to feel better and never look deep into the truth.

  2. Doug Moore says:

    Minimum wage is below a living wage,
    we’re taxed at 16% (next highest is 10%),
    Corruption and sense of entitlement drain our taxes.
    The protesters in montreal see their futures being taken and given away by a government they were too young to vote for.
    A “french” only education is worth less then an “english” or “bilingual” one because there are less options for the “french” person.
    The Plan Nord is selling off of Quebec land and jobs to private companies.Charest has no mandate to do that.

    • Pierre Cyr says:

      Maybe the protesters should be fighting for the right to an english or bilingual education. Stop voting for the P.Q. who only serve to keep young Quebecois down by denying them the opportunity to learn the language that the rest of North America does business in. By trying to protect the french language the PQ has ensured that the quality of life and earning potential of it’s young is equal to that of the young french Canadians before the quiet revolution.

      • Qui ça? Moi? says:

        Stop voting for PQ? Is PQ in power at the moment? You seem to assume everyone in Quebec votes PQ. Bad faith much?

        Too many anglos want just one one thing: they want us Francos to disappear because we are such an annoyance. That ain,t gonna happen, sorry.

      • Jac says:

        First off, this comment is not remotely related to the subject at hand. You seem to think the students are looking for a cause to protect and should “choose” to fight for something else. There is something about CULTURE you don’t seem to understand. As an anglophone, would you stop speaking (and protecting) your english language if the “language of business” was Chinese?! Fight for the right to an English education?! People fight for the right to choose the language of their education. As far as I know, learning English is by no means threatened in Québec.

    • Qui ça? Moi? says:

      English is mandatory in Quebec schools from grade 5. There are lots of English textbooks used in Québec cégeps and universities. I am a product of this system and as you can see I am fluently bilingual. (As a mater of fact, I am trilingual, hablo español también). To the contrary, I posit that it is the people who are unilingual anglophones are the ones disadvantaged in this world marked by globalization. Unilingual anglo civil servants complain a lot in Ottawa that they get passed for jobs because they don’t speak French (not all positions require bilingualism, though and this is often overlooked). You can’t have your cake and est it too, folks.

  3. Chris Noel says:

    Simply put..institutionnalised corruption, and gand like manipulation and improvisation…of the élected; the only reason all of this is emerging now is because of electoral exploration originating., , curiously développing in parrallel agenda of academics and due previsional electoral sensing , on public corruption inquiry mandate begening in september 12, exposing close collaborators mingle in energy, transport, in public funds , deviant subsidies . all are aware of the 75 billions in shale gaz public permits passed on from 5 to 10 cents compared to 5 to 10 thousand$ elsewere in canada and the US…wind mills profits at 90 % + , exported external of the province, the cogeneration plant of 600 millions of public money closed down, 1 month later , causing about 200 millions$ in penalty ayear for not operating again to a calgary outfit. The excess public debt accumulated in the last 3 years of about 100 billion $, not counting the accumulated pension debt of 75 billions …added to the 250 billion$,,,the previous generation is the one knowing , and lived in the 70s , the debt was one billion , in 95 quebec paid in transfer perequation to canada 10 to 12 billions a year …in 2011 the reverse…since the actual croocked management , , 45 % on gasoline price at the pump gies in taxes , and the avarage deduction on average is 50% on pay check, not counting the provincial sales tax added on top of the GST…A growing number of citizens are not tollerating all this debt spiral erodind the consumer power .and self , individual détermination, This Gov. is in power on a base of real about 25 % voted because of only about 55% participation divided in 3 parties… doom gloom and boom gov. the intention of vote lately published would be 90 % …By’By Clown ! students will not add a dime more in this black hole , neither would parents, unless they are part of a revision commity revewing spending in éducation administration , having a 500 millions$ new builbing totaly innept , innoperationnal adjacent to the montreal quebec downtown University , started it all; when 10 years ago it was refused…? construction corrurt lobysts ! Performance contract and acountability , spending and control of public funds …Canada should be proud of the responsable lead of Quebec , ans follow up !

  4. mr bruns says:

    This article is totally biased, which makes the author a hypocrite. Not to mention most of his points are propaganda, which he thinks main stream media is doing. Fact is the media is reporting the facts. I had sympathy for the protest at first but they crossed the line and it got taken over by idiots demanding a freeze on tuition forever. Something the students fail to acknowledge there is something called inflation. Not to mention the fact that this article was written by an idiot that clearly lives on a different planet.

    • Peter Dubois says:

      You lost me on Point #1, that’s how feeble your argument is, to an outside observer.

      You accurately point out that students in Quebec pay half as much as the national average, then point out the debt for “undergraduate in Canada is $27,000, while the average debt for an undergraduate in Quebec is $13,000”

      So you pay half as much as the rest of us, but have LESS than half our debt. I’ve got exactly zero sympathy for you, Andrew.

      You say this is a democratic strike: 1/3 of students are on declared strike. That leaves 2/3 NOT on strike. Yet the aggressive 1/3rd decide to force non-striking students out of class (UQAM) through a tantrum worthy of an over-entitled tween girl who’s denied a pony for her birthday.

  5. Roger says:

    I would disagree with point #3. Not all of the student associations acted entirely democratically. The Policy at UQAM was that a vote of 50% of 10% of the student population was needed to go on strike. The vote was scheduled during the day during class times (when most of the student population would be in class, as opposed to say in the evening or on a weekend) and the vote was not a secret ballot but a show of hands. At the Concordia arts association vote people were actually taking pictures of those who voted against the strike measures. In a Democracy a vote should absolutely be a secret ballot, and the vote should be held at a time that is accessible to all students. Now not all of the student associations followed these kinds of procedures but some of them did, and some of the biggest ones did.

  6. Lisa says:

    Wearing masks for something one believes in doesn’t make any sense. People should be slapped with a $2000 fine for wearing full faced masks & put in jail for 60 days if failure to pay.

    • Lisa for the Nobel Peace Prize. says:

      Lisa, you are a GENIUS! We should put people in jail for wearing masks. Except MAYBE on Halloween. We should also ban scarves. Illegal to wear of scarf. That’s good, I like your thinking. AND POCKETS! We should also ban pockets. Pockets are dangerous. People could hide weapons of mass destruction in their pockets. We should arrest everyone with pockets on their pants. I agree with you completely. This liberty of expression concept has to stop!


  7. Joe Dole says:

    I find it utterly amazing how the common person is so ill informed and in a lot of cases practically “brainwashed” by the bullshit the government and media is throwing out to the public. People seem more concerned about preserving the French language by censoring English in any form and what the score in a Canadiens hockey game is. Sad indeed.

  8. Pierre Cyr says:

    If you are worried about the incurring debt while attending university maybe you shouldn’t be studying philosophy, psychology, English lit etc. and perhaps learn a trade whose skills are in need. There is no shortage of work for welders out west, but of course one can’t go one about how they are studying fine arts at McGill or Women’s studies at Concordia. Universities are not training grounds, they do not provide job training, they are institutions of higher learning. If you want to study ancient slavic dance and it’s effects on modern weaving techniques go nuts. Just don’t bitch to the rest of us that you have a huge debt and no job prospects.

    • You can't make love to money says:

      Pierre Cyr, you are on to something. Geez, why didn’t I think of this before I decided to become an artist! What matters most is making MONEY! You are absolutely right. Oh I like the looks of this. Imagine a world of welders only. Let’s encourage people to NOT follow their ambitions and desires. Who needs imagination when you can have a good salary?! Let’s not study what we want, let’s not study what we’re good at. Let’s study where the money is !!! You are right!! Who cares about Slavic dances, or philosophy!? No more movies, no more music… ONLY WELDERS AND BROKERS!!!


      • Peter Dubois says:

        Militant much?

        The world needs art, but not at the rate the universities churn it out. Universities exist for 2 purposes:

        1.) Advancing a field of study
        2.) Making money

        You can absolutely contribute to culture and society by becoming an artist, but the world only needs so many artists, and I’d say we’re good at the moment, thanks. We need welders, we’re goig to hire welders.

        Do you honestly believe that everyone should follow their dreams, or do what they’re best at? If so, you’re a fool. Some people dream of sex, lots and lots of sex (like me, for instance). However I’m not going to go out and study f–king and quit my job to become a porn star. Why? The world has no shortage of male porn-stars or others queueing to fill the last guys shoes. So instead I keep my desk job, because I can always have sex after work.

        Do what you’re best at? What of the people who aren’t good at anything? What should they do in your utopia? I’ll make this clear, 99.9% or the world aren’t very good at anything. They might be alright at something, but that’s all. Do we really need to support 999 crappy artists in order to get 1 who’s worth watching? I say no.

        Which bring me to point #2: universities are out to make money. If you’re willing to take “Listening to Music” (which is a real course offered by my old university), you deserve to have your money taken from you.

      • Henrik says:


        Take a look at how our tax dollars are spent, take a look at the integrity and competence of our political system, funding crappy artists and a free education system would be incomparably cheaper and much more beneficial.

  9. Michael Bourguignon says:

    Total BS. Vandalism and terrorist tactics undermine the original message of which the demonstrators have long since lost sight. How does throwing smoke bombs into the taxpayer-funded subway system advance your so-called cause? How does using intimidation and violence to prevent students who want to learn and teachers who want to teach from accessing their classrooms benefit anyone? Grow up, get off the streets, get back into the classroom, and stop throwing projectiles at police because you think it’s fun. Good god, enough already!

  10. marc says:

    Reading reader comments in different media on this issue proves interesting. Opponents to the strike typically use insults, underlining where they’re coming from and their general lack of valid arguments. Great article, but I really would have liked to see sources for the data and stats used. Otherwise, unfortunately, it’s easy to discredit this as propaganda.

    • I’m not sure why people are concerned about “sources” here, I have dozens and dozens of sources in the text (in hyperlinks) for everything I talk about, which automatically take you to the original source. Perhaps some of them are not working properly? Is that what the problem is? But I have seen a few people comment that there are no “sources” when in fact, there are likely over 50 of them within the text itself; you just have to click on them. Thanks!

  11. This is my reply to all those who state that this article and my writing is biased:

    I don’t pretend to be unbiased, I don’t think it’s possible. My bias is always in favour of people over institutional forms of power. The difference is that this bias, which I hold for issues both historically and presently, does not define my understanding of history and events, but rather it was my own research and understanding which came to define the bias, itself. It is a historical bias, and one which I think to be true. Others may and will disagree, and present their facts to support that, and that is their bias. I feel comfortable in my bias simply because I know I have and continue to do excessive amounts of research to back it up. I am biased simply because I refuse to be neutral, because historically speaking, injustice, oppression, exploitation and domination do not need “neutral” voices of observation, but rather voices which seek to empower the oppressed and undermine the oppressors. I see no value in neutrality in such situations, nor will I present myself as such.

    Thank you,

    • j2 says:

      Please address the point about democratic process and the undemocratic process at uqam as outlined by Roger. I can’t even consider reading the rest of the article knowing that it is so obviously factually questionable. The articles linked which are not mainstream media do not directly address this accusation in any manner.

      • Peter Dubois says:

        Totally with you Andrew, the world needs power in the hands of “people over institutional forms of power”

        Just look at how well Somalia is getting on.

    • dr. stewart says:

      “I refuse to be neutral, because historically speaking, injustice, oppression, exploitation and domination do not need “neutral” voices of observation” — Fair enough, Mr. Marshall, but we readers could surely have used some paragraphs.

  12. mr bruns says:

    Facts can be used to back up things that are only remotely true

  13. mr bruns says:

    “Excessive state violence has been used against the students” clearly the author has no clue as to what excessive state violence is. This is an example of somebody who as grown up in a democratic, first world country that has never experienced state violence. It’s a insult to those who have actually experienced real state violence. I guess the police should just step aside and let the students burn the whole city down.

  14. Bobby Crown says:

    You people should grow up and smell the roses. You are owed NOTHING! Get it! NOTHING!
    We’d toss you the torch but you’d probably complain that it’s too hot or too heavy.
    So just shut-up and get a job. Most McDonald’s are hiring!

    • Henrik says:


      The issue at hand is not whether kids today are spolied or not. Also, it will prove difficult for future generations to maintain healthcare for you on McDonald’s wages although it may just come to that.

  15. Henrik says:

    To “mr bruns”

    The fact that in some other countries authorities are using more violent methods to control the population does not justify how they are dealing with the demonstrators in Quebec in some cases.Equally, It is not the difference in ammunition that will make state violence excessive or not. Democracy in this first world country is clearly braking down when the state resorts to violence to silence the electorate protesting the state’s decisions.

  16. Fatty McGee says:

    Regarding your argument of debt. Whether the student or government pays your tuition there will always be debt. If tuition remains low, the debt will be public rather than private. Poorly balanced government budgets are just as dangerous as large amounts of privatized debt. Surely, the collapse of welfare states in Europe illustrates this.

    Quebec’s debt is the largest in Canada, and passing the burden of delivering services onto private citizens is a simple way to decrease the deficit and debt. Particularly when such services are the domain of the elite. In the end, students will inherit this debt no matter the outcome.

  17. […]… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized by natalie lefebvre gnam. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  18. Qui ça? Moi? says:

    We get the usual anti-Quebec, anti-Franco¸, anti youth and anti students comments. Thanks for showing yourselves as you are, rabid racist wingnuts. Merci beaucoup dear ennemies.

    YES I am owed something because I GODDAMNED PAID FOR IT! We put 4 billion dollars a year into equalization! Newsflash: I am not a professional welfare collector. I have had a successful business for 14 years. You have the exact same mentality as old Southern whites against blacks/Obama. You were trained to believe Québécois are “lazy criminal drug addict Blacks”. Quebec puts money into the equalization pot and we are only the 4th collector despite having the second biggest population in Canada.

    But you prefer having 1759 envy. Colonialism at its worst.

    • mr bruns says:

      These comments are not anti Quebec or racist maybe you should read up and check the polls most Quebecers support the hike

      • Qui ça? Moi? says:

        If you are talking about the biased and unscientific CROP poll that was on page 1 of La Presse this morning, they were a laughingstock (anyone with 1st year cégep statististics could see it was a sham) and had to move it to another location in the site. It was taken with CROP’s pre-chosen panel of 800 people, BEFORE ANYONE KNEW what was in the law.

        Then there is this Harris-Decima poll that says the exact opposite. Harris-Decima is a serious pollster.

        You also seem to forget the living standards and price levels vary greatly from from one province to the next. Salaries are lower in Quebec (and so are houses prices). Debt may be smaller but since salaries are lower, the debt will NOT be paid faster.

        And BTW the university as an institution is also there to help people develop critical judgment, advance human knowledge. Art is not just entertainment, contrary to what Harper believes. Ir is a means of expression. Look at the painting Guernica by Picasso: it is a powerful antiwar statement. Universities exist to develop independent thought, better humankind. But Bay Street and rue Saint-Jacques and Wall Street want to turn it into a trade school.

  19. Qui ça? Moi? says:

    Do you realize Quebec is the second largest province in Canada (suck on that Alberta) and we are not out of Harris-like years? You guys made an idol of deficit cutting at the expense of human rights. There are starving people in Ontario. Lots. But of course poor people are sinners…

  20. Philippe B Stephenson says:

    The violent methods used by the police aren’t necessarily proof that the entire government position is wrong-headed, any more than the smoke-bombs in the Metro and acts of vandalism prove that the students’ position is wrong. Furthermore, you have to distinguish between excessive police violence and police violence. Police power, or state power, is an exercise in violence. The police don’t enforce laws just by saying ‘pretty please’. Violence is fundamental to what they do. That leaves two defensible positions: Either police power is always illegitimate, because all violence is illegitimate, or police power is legitimate only in cases in which violence is needed, and to the extent that it is needed. There have been people harmed at protests who seem to have been threatening no one (for example, the student who lost the use of an eye about a month ago). And there have been protesters trying to force their way into the Palais des congrès while the head of government is inside. Or the protesters intimidating, harassing and assaulting people at UQAM after an a court injunction allowing law students to return to class. Imagine if hundreds of ‘protesters’ were trying to force their way onto your property. I think you’d see the appropriateness of using violence to repel them.

    As for student democracy, this is an interesting fallacy in this context. It’s all well and good that the student associations use direct democracy, but democracy doesn’t give the majority of students in an association the right to dictate to a minority whether or not they may attend classes. Democracy, it should be clear to the student movement now, doesn’t necessarily produce good results. As evidence, see ‘Jean Charest’. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with democratically elected leaders, but that should clue you in that democracy isn’t magic – the majority, or the majority of people who vote, can be wrong. Democracy doesn’t turn wrong into right. As such, it doesn’t really matter how many students voted for a boycott in a student association. The vote is only binding on the people who voted for the boycott – not for other students, and certainly not for schools.

    The most logical response from the beginning would have been for schools to continue offering classes according to their schedules, and to see to it that no one prevent students or professors from reaching classes. Of course, this wouldn’t have allowed the boycott movement to go far, and we’ve seen the movement’s response – to physically block access, to intimidate and harass students who want to attend their classes. As such, the boycott movement is based not just on ‘democracy’, but on intimidation, and ultimately on violence (as we saw at UQAM recently).

    What this shows is that the student protesters ultimately aren’t against police power, against violence to further political aims. They simply want it on their side. They want state power to take money out of taxpayers’ pockets to pay for their studies. They decry government aid to corporations and organized crime only because they’re envious.

    A student movement I could get behind would want the state out of the business of education. It would be against the corporatism and credentialism that sees value in knowledge and skills only if they have been blessed by an official body – a product of the merger of corporate education and state.

    • mr bruns says:

      Extremely well put

    • Qui ça? Moi? says:

      Basically you are defending scabs. it is exactly the same line of reasoning. Why should people abstain from crossing the picket lines when there is a strike? They have a “right to work”!

      Antiscab laws are there because companies used violence to hire people illegally and ignore strikes so workers had no clout whatsoever to get better wages.

      Against students, they use police.

      So all we can do is pay and obey like sheep?

    • Qui ça? Moi? says:

      If you want to be treated by a “doctor” without any vetted credentials, be my guest.

      This is extreme libertarianism.

  21. Qui ça? Moi? says:

    Margaret Wente’s “Quebec student” is not even from Quebec. She plagiarizes a lot, that one

  22. Qui ça? Moi? says:

    Hiring scabs to replace striking workers is illegal. At least here. Otherwise the striking workets have no ways of defending their demand for better working conditions and wages.

  23. simonlnu says:

    excellent article. well researched, well written. keep it up my friend :). i’ve posted it on facebook, friendica, irc.

  24. […] Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement […]

  25. Judith says:

    Great work Andrew, the complainers will always complain, they’re too lazy to click it’s too much effort and, it makes their brain all fuzzy if they read too long.

    • Haha! It’s always easier to dismiss than to investigate. Cheers!

    • mr bruns says:

      “Great work Andrew, the complainers will always complain, they’re too lazy to click it’s too much effort and, it makes their brain all fuzzy if they read too long”

      That is funny coming from a movement who want’s somebody else to pay their education bill because they are too lazy to work for it or do not wish to make sacrifices in their lives in order to get it.

  26. […] amis Quebecois, Marc André Laporte, du site Donne Ta Musique. En ces jours sombres Au Quebec, où la fameuse loi 78 restreint les libertés individuelles de manière assez drastique, un de mes soutiens à moi, entre autres, ça sera de publier du […]

  27. jp says:

    Hey there,

    I just wanted to say that I find your description of Quebec as a “mostly French-speaking” province very diminishing for the French language, and slightly insulting for me as a French-speaking Qubécois who grew up in Montreal. I assume it was not the intent here, but it seems there is that perception among Anglo-Canadians that Quebec, and especially Montreal, is close to being bilingual or something like that.

    Well, FYI, there are only 12% of native English speakers in Montreal (Census 2006), and much less in the whole province of Quebec, certainly less than 10%. I know that the fact that in Montreal two universities out of four and some 6-8 hospitals function in English, that a large number of shop signs/names are English only or bilingual, and that people will switch over to English as soon as they hear the faintest accent all might give the impression of a bilingual city. But in fact, it is not. Quebec is a French province, and Montreal is a French city (actually the sixth largest French city in the world, second largest among Western countries after Paris…).


    • GOOD LUCK says:

      That might be the brightest response posted here.
      I’m pleased to see someone so excessively concerned with such crucial problems.

    • mr bruns says:

      What an arrogant stupid comment, 12% english if that number is even true it’s not counting all the immigrants. This is exactly why Quebec has one of the worse economies in Canada because of this stupid attitude that everything must be in French. Wake up your in North America, the whole world does business in english.

      • Rob says:

        Mr B, You’re quite the prick may I say. We can do business in English. Can you do business in Chinese? Wake up they are taking over! Pfft

  28. […] Quebecois, Marc André Laporte, du site Donne Ta Musique. En ces jours sombres Au Quebec, où la fameuse loi 78 restreint les libertés individuelles de manière assez drastique, je continue à publier du quebecois. […]

  29. […] Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement […]

  30. […] dollar amount is meant to dismiss the student protestors out of hand — the actual issue is debt and the austerity measures that fuel it, the 75 percent tuition hike is simply the straw that broke […]

  31. […] dollar amount is meant to dismiss the student protestors out of hand — the actual issue is debt and the austerity measures that fuel it, the 75 percent tuition hike is simply the straw that broke […]

  32. […] point 7 of my article, “Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement,” I provided sources and information regarding the deeply interconnected relationship between the […]

  33. […] point 7 of my article, “Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement,” I provided sources and information regarding the deeply interconnected relationship between the […]

  34. […] repression and violence, in what became known as the ‘Maple Spring.’ Dealing with issues of debt, repression, and media propaganda, the Maple Spring presented an example for student organizing elsewhere in Canada and North […]

  35. […] repression and violence, in what became known as the ‘Maple Spring.’ Dealing with issues of debt, repression, and media propaganda, the Maple Spring presented an example for student organizing elsewhere in Canada and North […]

  36. […] repression and violence, in what became known as the ‘Maple Spring.’ Dealing with issues of debt, repression, and media propaganda, the Maple Spring presented an example for student organizing elsewhere in Canada and North […]

  37. […] Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement […]

  38. […] Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement […]

  39. […] repression and violence, in what became known as the ‘Maple Spring.’ Dealing with issues of debt, repression, and media propaganda, the Maple Spring presented an example for student organizing elsewhere in Canada and North […]

  40. […] Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement […]

  41. […] Suddenly, I began to acknowledge what was going on around me, with students taking to the streets to fight a tuition increase, being beaten by riot police and arrested. I clearly wasn’t the only person who had a problem with the educational system. So I began to look closely at the situation here in Quebec, and I began to write about it, participate in the protests, and lend whatever support I could to the movement in the best way I know how: through doing the research and writing the results. […]

  42. […] Suddenly, I began to acknowledge what was going on around me, with students taking to the streets to fight a tuition increase, being beaten by riot police and arrested. I clearly wasn’t the only person who had a problem with the educational system. So I began to look closely at the situation here in Quebec, and I began to write about it, participate in the protests, and lend whatever support I could to the movement in the best way I know how: through doing the research and writing the results. […]

  43. […] media were taking in new perspectives and seeking new sources of information. My article – “Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement” – surprised me by going viral (by my standards), especially when it was picked up by […]

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