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Drive-by Planet: New PQ government cancels tuition hike: victory for student movement

Bottom: Photo from last Saturday’s march in Montreal  celebrating victory and calling for free tuition.

Pauline Marois, the newly elected premier of Quebec, announced that her government has cancelled the proposed hike on student tuition fees. The hike was repealed by the new Parti Québécois government.

Yes it can be done even against . . . → Read More: Drive-by Planet: New PQ government cancels tuition hike: victory for student movement

CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: A CLASSE act for Quebec’s next provincial election

Should an election be called, the more militant group of the Quebec student protest movement will mobilze students against ideology and neo-liberal politics. That’s according to CLASSE’s new manifesto, recently launched by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (pictured), the organization’s spokesman. The manifesto focuses on four core themes: democracy, feminism, social justice and ecology.

RELATED: Quebec Student Protest . . . → Read More: CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: A CLASSE act for Quebec’s next provincial election

CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Quebec Student Protest Movement Begins Tour Of Ontario Universities

While the pots and pans are on a summer hiatus, the ground-breaking Quebec student protest movement is visiting an Ontario university near you. Representatives of CLASSE, Quebec’s largest student federation, and other activists have embarked on a tour of ten Ontario universities.

The nine-day Quebec-Ontario Student Solidarity Tour, funded by the Canadian Federation of Students, . . . → Read More: CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Quebec Student Protest Movement Begins Tour Of Ontario Universities

From Orangutan: Separated at Birth: Michelle Courchesne and Carol Burnett

Here’s some lighthearted fun for the day on which talks resume between the Quebec Minister of Education, Michelle Courchesne, and Quebec student leaders.

From Orangutan: Separated at Birth: Michelle Courchesne and Carol Burnett

Here’s some lighthearted fun for the day on which talks resume between the Quebec Minister of Education, Michelle Courchesne, and Quebec student leaders. . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Separated at Birth: Michelle Courchesne and Carol Burnett

Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

But the sound wasn’t sad!Why, this sound sounded merry!It couldn’t be so!But it WAS merry! VERY!

Reports are the casserole protests continued tonight. Thousands marching up St-Laurent Blvd earlier this fine evening. Good for them. “That’s the spirit,” as my eight-year-old son likes to say.

You know, for months I was reluctant to . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

Reports are the casserole protests continued tonight. Thousands marching up St-Laurent Blvd earlier this fine evening. Good for them. “That’s the spirit,” as my eight-year-old son likes to say.

You know, for months I was reluctant to get behind this particular student-led movement. It really left a bad taste in my mouth every time I heard about “striking” students thwarting others from attending classes. And like many others I spoke with, “strike” (or its french equivalent, “grève”, rhymes with Bev) seemed a misnomer. If anything, these guys were boycotting their classes, or at the very least, “protesting”. But calling it a strike seemed disingenuous.

I am however, a tolerant Canadian, so I did not quibble with them throwing bricks on subway tracks to get attention when the hardline Quebec Liberal government of Jean Charest refused to even meet with them and hear their grievances. It was not very becoming of Charest, but then again, he is a pompous ass, and when you knowingly elect a pompous ass, you have to expect to live with that devil you knew and know. He was, after all, merely a young pup when learning the tricks of the trade within Mulroney’s cabinet.

But once he had had enough of these unwavering protesters, his pomposity grew to such outbound proportions with his Bill 78 that I knew in a heartbeat that rather than making a Swift, Decisive, Strong Leader decision, he had instead impetuously shat the provincial bed.

I look on it now as my Grinch moment. It awakened me.

There I was, hand cocked to ear, sitting atop Mount Crumpet with all the self-righteousness of the many people like me, feeling unlawfully hindered from wending our little ways through the workings of life to get to our woefully underpaid jobs. I was fully (gosh, naively) expecting to hear the mea culpas from CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and the others. And like all those who’d poo-pooed the movement and quietly categorized them as uber-brats, I had expected them to back down and accept that they were about to be firmly screwed again. The way I got screwed. The way we all have been getting screwed by the untenable but nonetheless well-embraced mantra of neo-liberalism that doesn’t know anything other than sucking every ounce of life from the 99.9% to feed the self-important point-0-one.

But this generation of students? Nuh-uh. They wouldn’t – and won’t – have any of it, even though Bill 78 meant these students had just had their whole semesters scuppered.

But just like the Whos in Whoville who had been robbed of all their worldly possessions, the “entitled” young buggers came right back out into the commons anyway. They came out in numbers much greater than what wept for Maurice Richard’s passing, and they sang their protest song on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012. Over a hundred thousand people marched in bold defiance of a law that so obviously contravenes our utmost rights (bestowed by the people to those that rule us, remember, not the other way around), even the dimmest of voters could not help but see it.

We all heard them; me from the 8th floor office on de Maisonneuve Blvd where I earn subsistence wages for an American company that constantly insists none of us may take a sick day without later furnishing a Doctor’s note, never mind that it’s against Quebec law to ask for that for absences of less than three days.

I went down to the street on my break and watched the marchers head down Peel Street. They were joyously defiant. They had all the violence of a John Lennon or Ghandi.

They were on the right side of history, I figured.

For what I had heretofore failed to see was that the tuition increase wasn’t all they were protesting. The increase, or “Hausse” was more like the straw that broke the camel’s back – the camel that the mass media was always looking beyond because it figured nobody cared so much about camels as about Kardashians. And if it’s sad that they are right in that assumption, it’s also true that they had a big hand in making it so.

I guess I didn’t relate because my own experience in university was that tuition kept going up each year, but my parents (what foresight!) had been saving for me and my sister since we were tots to make sure we had money to get a degree. And they had expected it to be a lot more expensive than it turned out to be.

My first year at Concordia University was also the last year of a long-standing tuition fee freeze (1988), and my contract for a full year’s study, including extra administrative costs, was all of $750. After that, there was books and living expenses of course. And I did my bit. I toiled unrewarded as a volunteer student journalist; I paid my way and switched to studying part-time once the $350-a-year increases kicked-in in 1989, working minimum wage at McDonald’s – a real Flaherty job if ever there was one.

Since graduation, I have found the market for my writing, my reporting, indeed the sum of my skills learned within the two departments of Journalism and Communications, to be drier than a James Bond martini. The jobs just haven’t been there, and when they were, I jumped at them, only to find myself jammed-up with numerous others, like the hammers of an old manual typewriter all struck at once, with none eventually hitting the ribbon, but left with no recourse save full retreat.

I am 43 years old, with two dependants and an ex-wife. I had to start over last year, grateful as hell to find employment that provides good family benefits and a measure of security (not maternity-leave replacement or fixed-term contract work, but permanent, full-time with vacation), despite the fact it pays less than I made twelve years ago as a McDonald’s manager.

So if the greater message is that this society is just not providing opportunity for the average Joe and Josephine, yeah, I get it.

And as someone who is squarely in the red, living in a tiny apartment with no money to go on vacations and unable to set aside anything for my kids’ education, let alone my own retirement (which I imagine won’t come before I am 70, if not 67 – unlike the tsk-tsk-ing well-heeled Boomer generation that is so disgusted by all this protesting), you bet I get it. Even Arcade Fire and Mick Jagger get it.

So I am with you. Sorry I wasn’t listening earlier. That’s what happens when you’re working for the clampdown. I always loved that song. Now I’ve lived it.

Not the way I’d hoped.

*Photo: thanks, Aly Neumann! . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

From Orangutan: Photos of the Peaceful Protest, May 22, 2012, Montreal,

Just a few of my photos of Tuesday’s protest in Montreal, the single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Estimates of crowd numbers run from the tens of thousands all the way up to 500,000. The protest marked the 100th day of the Que… . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Photos of the Peaceful Protest, May 22, 2012, Montreal,

From Orangutan: Photos of the Peaceful Protest, May 22, 2012, Montreal,

Just a few of my photos of Tuesday’s protest in Montreal, the single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Estimates of crowd numbers run from the tens of thousands all the way up to 500,000. The protest marked the 100th day of the Quebec student strike.

Jeanne Reynolds and Gabriel . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Photos of the Peaceful Protest, May 22, 2012, Montreal,

elementalpresent: On Strike from Life as we Know it

The Quebec Government just announced a “special law” intended to bring an end to the 14-week student strike in that province. The law would postpone the rest of this semester and allow current students to finish it in August before starting school again in October. The announcement came on the heels of a particularly contentious . . . → Read More: elementalpresent: On Strike from Life as we Know it

From Orangutan: Dear Chilean Students,

Thank you for expressing your support for the college and university students that are currently striking in Quebec. I am happy that you too have criticized the neoliberal policies of the province’s Jean Charest government. I would also like to convey my gratitude, in particular, to Camila Vallejo (pictured), one of the leaders of . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Dear Chilean Students,

From Orangutan: Canada’s Tiananmen Moments,

This is what police in Quebec are doing to striking students. I know that some people won’t like that I called this post “Canada’s Tiananmen Moments,” but by placing Quebec police brutality within a larger and even more disturbing context, I would hope that the violence against Quebec students stops, once and for all. . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Canada’s Tiananmen Moments,

From Orangutan: Dear Inspiring Students,

As the Quebec student strike continues, it was reassuring for me to learn Tuesday that over 60 per cent of postsecondary students across Canada would join a similar strike in their own province. This news comes from a survey of 2,200 globeandmail.com readers, taken between May 2 and 7, who expressed a similar anxiety over rising . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Dear Inspiring Students,

From Orangutan: Dear Quebec students,

As Martine Desjardins, president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), said after the 22 hour negotiating marathon between Quebec student federations (which at last included La CLASSE) and the government, “This is not the end of the strike. It is the beginning of the end of the conflict.”

With details of the . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Dear Quebec students,

Blunt Objects: I Almost Agreed With Margaret Wente

… then she reverted back to being a bitch, but almost, I almost agreed with her.

The article in question is her piece in the Globe about Quebec’s student protests, the militant CLASSE group, and the “future baristas” of the Canadian job market that apparently make up these protests. Wente is right in the sense . . . → Read More: Blunt Objects: I Almost Agreed With Margaret Wente

From Orangutan: To Line Beauchamp,

What if La CLASSE were a Jewish group, or a Hindu group, or a Buddhist group, or a Muslim group, or in other words, a group whose beliefs you don’t follow, but a group that nonetheless plays an important role in Quebec society? Would you still refuse to negotiate? In Quebec, we accept each other’s . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: To Line Beauchamp,

Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along

After school is over you’re playing in the parkDon’t be out too late, don’t let it get too darkThey tell you not to hang around and learn what life’s aboutAnd grow up just like them, won’t you let it work it out

As I type this, thousands of youth are out in the streets of . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along

Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along

After school is over you’re playing in the parkDon’t be out too late, don’t let it get too darkThey tell you not to hang around and learn what life’s aboutAnd grow up just like them, won’t you let it work it outAs I type this, thousands of youth are ou… . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along

From Orangutan: Cher Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois et al.,

Thank you for displaying a rare from of patience and reason in the face of rhetorical manipulations and illogical accusations from lawyer, political scientist, and journalist Christian Dufour during a debate Tuesday on the Denis Lévesque show. Mr. Nadeau-Dubois, one can easily grasp your intelligence and clarity of thought compared to that of your adversary, . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Cher Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois et al.,

From Orangutan: Bonjour Jean Charest,

You sure did blow off some smoke and pull out some mirrors Monday when you denounced the Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarite syndicale etudiante (CLASSE) for refusing to condemn the vandalism and social disruptions in Montreal. Last I checked, violence is not part of the CLASSE’s mandate, obviously. In fact, it was . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Bonjour Jean Charest,

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Stéphane Gendron In Dutch With CBSC

While trolling the The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council for other reasons I noticed this special announcement:

A Note Concerning the March 22, 2012 broadcast of Face à Face The CBSC has received a large number of very similar complaints concerning the March 22, 2012 broadcast at 10 AM of Face à face on V, exceeding the CBSC’s . . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: Stéphane Gendron In Dutch With CBSC