For three months the Quebec Province in Canada has seen massive demonstrations, organizing, and the emergence of a fight back movement aimed at stopping austerity and the economic assault on students and broadly speaking, the entire of the working classes. The student strikes have polarized Quebec. As students and their allies organize members of the government have attempted to fine, jail, and suppress the struggle. One government bureaucrat had even called on the creation of a 1930′s style “fascist” force to attack the student strike.
The situation has intensified and we have now seen pitched street battles between students and the working classes on one side against the police on the other. After battles in Montreal on Mayday the governing Parti Libéral du Québec attempted to hold its convention away from the main Quebec urban areas. The Liberal Party convention, held in the small town of Victoriaville just two days ago on May 6th, bore witness to some of the most dramatic actions. It also saw some of the most repressive attacks by police.
We are posting articles and analyses from our friends and comrades in Quebec and Ontario, Canada. We include statements from the anarchist groups, Union Communiste Libertaire (UCL), and, Common Cause.
Grève sociale, solidarité et lutte de classe (UCL).
Statement in French: “S’il y a un enseignement fondamental à tirer de la lutte étudiante qui perdure depuis bientôt trois mois, c’est que le mouvement ne s’est pas laissé abattre par les tribunaux et les injonctions qui visaient à casser la grève. Tout au contraire, les étudiant-e-s ont répondu aux tentatives d’encadrement par le pouvoir juridique en y opposant la force du nombre, de la solidarité et de l’action directe. À travers un système de soutien permanent des associations étudiantes entre elles qui mobilisèrent plusieurs centaines de personnes pouvant se déplacer d’un campus à l’autre, les administrations universitaires ont dû céder devant la pression. Malgré l’intimidation des tribunaux qui promettaient des amendes salées envers quiconque s’opposerait aux injonctions, les étudiants et étudiantes n’ont pas reculé. Ils et elles ont remporté leur pari de confronter le pouvoir juridique en agissant sur le terrain politique. “
Statement in English: “If there is a fundamental lesson to be learned from the student struggle that has lasted nearly three months, is that the movement does not let down by the courts and injunctions which aimed to break the strike. On the contrary, the students responded to attempts by framing the legal authority by opposing the force of numbers, solidarity and direct action. Through a system of ongoing support of student organizations that mobilized them several hundred people can move from one campus to another, university administrations have had to yield to pressure. Despite the intimidation of the courts which promised stiff fines against anyone who would oppose the injunctions, the students did not decline. They and they won their bet to confront the legal authority by acting in the political field.”
L’UCL dénonce la répression et appelle à défier les injonctions (UCL).
Statement in French: “Depuis le début de la grève étudiante, la stratégie du gouvernement est d’envoyer sa police sur les manifestations et lignes de piquetage. Le matraquage, les arrestations et la judiciarisation des grévistes n’ont cependant pas réussi à ébranler le mouvement étudiant. L’État a donc décidé de s’en remettre au système judiciaire et de laisser des individus attaquer devant les tribunaux des décisions prises collectivement et démocratiquement (certainement beaucoup plus que les élections qui ont permis à Jean Charest de prendre le pouvoir) par un mouvement de lutte… Par conséquent, l’UCL appelle les étudiantes et les étudiants à défier ces injonctions et à continuer la grève.”
Statement in English: “Since the beginning of the student strike, the government’s strategy is to send its police on demonstrations and picket lines. The hype, arrests and prosecution of strikers, however, have failed to shake the student movement. The State has therefore decided to rely on the judicial system and let individuals go to court decisions taken collectively and democratically (certainly much more than elections that allowed Charest to take power) by a movement the fight… Therefore, the UCL called Students to defy such orders and to continue the strike.”
Le printemps étudiant (UCL).
Statement in French: “Le printemps étudiant souffle fort au Québec pour faire reculer un gouvernement hautain qui cherche à transformer encore davantage l’éducation en une marchandise et les universités en des entreprises. Les anarchistes de l’Union communiste libertaire tiennent à appuyer et saluer les efforts de lutte menés par les militants et militantes de différents horizons pour mettre de l’avant une éducation qui soit libre, gratuite et populaire.
Notre rôle dans la lutte n’est pas de dédoubler l’information ni d’espérer récupérer un mouvement social des plus stimulants, mais de respecter et favoriser l’autonomie de ce mouvement tout en diffusant des idées et des pratiques libertaires.”
Statement in English: “The spring student blows hard in Quebec to roll back a government that seeks to transform haughty further education into a commodity and universities in business. The anarchists of the libertarian communist Union would like to acknowledge the support and control efforts led by activists from different backgrounds to put forward an education that is free, free and popular.
Our role in the fight is not to duplicate information or to hope to recover one of the most challenging social movement, but to respect and promote the autonomy of the movement while disseminating libertarian ideas and practices.”
Towards A Social Strike (Common Cause website).
Statement from CLASSE (Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarite syndicate etudiante). CLASSE is the largest of the student associations.
“The student movement has focused on the issue of tuition fees and the commodification of the universities. However, it is not unaware that this measure is integrally linked to a larger project affecting elementary and secondary education, the healthcare sector and the unfettered development of natural resources. Our resistance to the Quebec government’s neoliberal measures has to take into account all of these sectors, establishing a social link that enables us to speak of a community… We must build this social strike from the bottom up, by initiating a discussion in the workplaces on how to desert our day-to-day occupations. Let us call for general meetings in our local unions to discuss the possibility of instituting such a strike.
Let us contact the community groups in our neighborhoods, to hold citizens’ assemblies on the social strike. These assemblies are the expression of our capacity to deliberate together and to build a movement that goes beyond the limits established by the elite.
May the streets, occupied for two months now, become the expression of our collective refusal.”
An interview with CLASSE spokesperson, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (Common Cause website).
Tuition fee increases: the struggle continues!. “Above all, to understand the scope and the strength of the current movement, it is required to go back in time to see the work devoted to the preparation. In fact, in the fall of 2010, the ASSE began to organize information campaigns on the campuses of its member associations about a possible tuition fees increase. When that increase became reality, during winter 2011, ASSÉ began a long series of petitions, visibility actions, distribution of information and events, until the creation of the CLASSE and the beginning of the strike itself. In this sense, the strike in progress and the direct actions and protests related to it are parts of an escalation of pressure tactics over time. So the student struggle has taken on the traditional means used by other social movements who do not have enought economic power or resources to ensure that the government listens to us. However, what is fascinating about the strike today and which consitutes a new phenomenon, is the quantity of actions, creative events and protests that continue to multiply and emerge directly from local associations. Each day, student associations organize their own mobilization and show that the refusal of the government discourages nobody, but on the contrary, it renews and increases the ranks of those who take street on a daily basis.”