Monday, July 16, 2012
The Quebec Students and the Road Ahead
There are fewer of them these days. The long hot days of July have quietened things down.
But the Quebec students are still marching through the streets of Montreal.
Tonight was their 83rd nightly demo in a row. And next month they will have to make a choice that could determine the future of their movement, the future of Quebec, and maybe even the future of Canada.
For Jean Charest is expected to call an election for Sept 4. Two weeks after the students return to school and the larger protests resume.
To try to make a backlash against the province's young work for him, before an inquiry further blackens the reputation of his corrupt government:
By mid-September, a provincial commission of inquiry looking into allegations of collusion and corruption in the construction industry will resume its public hearings. Past experience suggests that as of then the government will lose much of its capacity to set the political agenda.
Which has some asking the question: now what?
So, what strategy will the student associations adopt when classes resume in mid-August? Will they repeat the same tactics of blocking entry to CEGEPs and universities, and head back out into the streets with law 78 still in place? This is, in my opinion, a risky strategy that would let the Charest government score points in public opinion and boost its changes of being re-elected.
The protest movement must think strategically and show itself to be smarter than its adversary. Red squares, indignation, casseroles and demonstrations are marvellous symbols, but in real life they are not enough.
This is why the protest movement must ride the political animal. It must come onto the political scene like a Trojan horse, to change things from within.
Should the students suspend their protests, and work to defeat Charest? It's a difficult decision, because there are no decent political options. The millionaire Pauline Marois' PQ is not the progressive party it once was. The millionaire François Legault's CAQ is a right-wing joke. And being co-opted by a political party could split the movement.
Still, I'm pretty confident the students will handle the situation as they have handled all the others. With a mixture of intelligent defiance, peaceful protest, and gentle creativity...
For their movement is now more than just about tuition fees, or even changing governments. It's about building a better world with human not corporate priorities, and saving the planet. So it will not be easily extinguished.
And in the grim darkness of Harperland, where hope goes to die, and so many seethe in silence, and all that can be heard is the grinding of teeth like a vast swarm of cicadas.
I'm so glad that at least in one corner of this country, people are keeping hope alive, fighting a fascist law, and breaking the silence in such a noisy, joyous manner...
Will we ever see such protests in the rest of Canada? Will we ever show Stephen Harper and his depraved Con regime what we really think of them? And send them a noisy message they can't ignore.
Oh boy. I hope so. Long live life. On lâche jamais. Never give up.
Long live that freedom movement...
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