Tag Archives: neoliberal university

Jeremie Battaglia: Casseroles – Montréal, 24 Mai 2012

(Via Jews sans frontieres)

jeremiebattaglia.com

Manifestation à Montréal contre la hausse des frais de scolarité et la loi 78. Les gens se retrouvent à des coins de rues pour faire le plus de bruit possible à l’aide de casseroles. Un grand merci à Avec pas d’casque et Grosse Boîte pour la musique!

Protest in Montreal against the rise of tuition fees in Quebec and the new Law 78. Every evening at 8pm people meet in the street with their pots and pans and make all the noise they can. A big thank you to the band Avec pas d’casque and their record label Grosse Boîte.

Musique/music: INTUITION #1 – Avec pas d’casque © Grosse Boîte
Bandcamp: avecpasdcasque.bandcamp.com/album/astronomie

NB: la date dans la vidéo n’est pas la bonne! Il s’agit bien du 24 mai au soir et non pas le 26!

Télécharger une version iphone/download an iPhone version of the video : bit.ly/KKYbeV

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Filed under activism, film and video, political repression, protests, student movements, trade unions, urban movements (right to the city)

Red Square Revolt: Quebec Students on Strike (documentary film)

Red Square Revolt: Quebec Students on Strike

montreal.openfile.ca
Lessons from Montreal: Documenting the tuition crisis for Americans
Sarah Leavitt • Thursday, May 24, 2012

A group of New Yorkers have taken an interest in Quebec’s student strikes and have created a documentary in the hopes of bringing the news of the tuition conflict to Americans.

“After Victoriaville, we could see things were going to get more intense and so we scheduled a trip,” Nate Lavey, one of the filmmaker’s, told OpenFile Montreal via email today. “We knew that the demo on Monday was going to be big, but we hadn’t planned on the government passing Loi 78, which has made the whole situation incredibly tense and dangerous for activists, students and professors.”

Lavey was inspired to make this documentary because of the dearth of coverage in the U.S.

“We had been disappointed by the lack of U.S., English-language coverage,” he said. “We knew radicals had been involved, but since many of them come from francophone backgrounds, their perspective on the strike wasn’t getting out, especially beyond Canada.”

Lavey and his team began shooting the documentary this past Saturday and worked hours on end to get it completed and online by Wednesday morning. After being unsuccessful in receiving funding from independent media outlets, they put their own money into the project. So why was it so important for them?

“We think it’s important that this story — and especially the perspective of radicals — make it out of Quebec. The strike is part of burgeoning anti-austerity movement that is sparking worldwide, so the lessons from Montreal are going to be relevant to people everywhere.”

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Filed under activism, film and video, international affairs, political repression, protests, student movements, trade unions

Support the CLASSE Legal Committee! (Quebec Student Strike)

(Via Edufactory mailing list)

Request for solidarity and support for the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Sisters, brothers,

We write you during a dark time for democratic, human and associative rights in Quebec with the following appeal for your help and solidarity. As you have no doubt heard, the government recently enacted legislation that amounts to the single biggest attack on the right to organize and freedom of expression in North America since the McCarthy period and the biggest attack on civil and democratic rights since the enactment of the War Measures Act in 1970. Arguably, this recent law will unduly criminalize more law-abiding citizens than even McCarthy’s hearings and the War Measures Act ever could.

Among other draconian elements brought forward by this law, any gathering of 50 or more people must submit their plans to the police eight hours ahead of time and must agree to any changes to the gathering’s trajectory, start time, etc. Any failure to comply with this stifling of freedom of assembly and association will be met with a fine of up to $5,000 for every participant, $35,000 for someone representing a ‘leadership’ position, or $125,000 if a union – labour or student – is deemed to be in charge. The participation of any university staff (either support staff or professors) in any student demonstration (even one that follows the police’s trajectory and instructions) is equally punishable by these fines. Promoting the violation of any of these prohibitions is considered, legally, equivalent to having violated them and is equally punishable by these crippling fines.

One cannot view this law in isolation. In the past few months, the Québec student movement – inspired by Occupy, the Indignados of Spain, the students of Chile, and over 50 years of student struggle in Québec; and presently at North America’s forefront of fighting the government’s austerity agenda – has been confronted by precedent-shattering judicial and police repression in an attempt to force the end of the strike and our right to organize collectively. Our strike was voted and is re-voted every week in local general assemblies across Québec. As of May 18th, 2012, our committee has documented and is supporting 472 criminal accusations as well as 1047 ticket and penal offenses. One week in April saw over 600 arrests in three days. And those numbers only reflect those charged with an offense, without mentioning the thousands pepper sprayed and tear gassed, clubbed and beaten, detained and released. It does not mention Francis Grenier, who lost use of most of an eye when a sound grenade was illegally thrown by a police officer into his face in downtown Montreal. It does not mention Maxence Valade who lost a full eye and Alexandre Allard who clung to life in a coma on a hospital bed for days, both having received a police rubber bullet to the head in Victoriaville. And the thousands of others brutalized, terrorized, harassed and assaulted on our streets. Four students are currently being charged under provisions of the anti-terrorist laws enacted following September 11th.

In addition to these criminal and penal cases, of particular concern for those of us involved in the labour movement is that anti-strike forces have filed injunctions systematically from campus to campus to prevent the enactment of strike mandates, duly and democratically voted in general assemblies. Those who have defended their strike mandates and enforced the strike are now facing Contempt of Court charges and their accompanying potential $50,000 fines and potential prison time. One of our spokespeople, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, will appear in Superior Court under such a charge for having dared say, on May 13th of this year, that “I find it legitimate” that students form picket lines to defend their strike.

While we fight, on principle, against this judicialization of a political conflict, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the struggle on the streets has been, for many, transferred to the courtroom and we must act to defend our classmates, our friends and our family. This defense needs your help. Many students have been denied access to Legal Aid to help them to defend themselves. This, while students filing injunctions to end strikes have been systematically granted Legal Aid. While sympathetic lawyers in all fields of law have agreed to reduced rates and a lot of free support,
the inherent nature of the legal system means we are spending large sums of money on this defense by the day.

It is in this context that we appeal to you to help us cover the costs of this, our defense. Not only must we help those being unduly criminalized and facing injunctions undermining their right to associate, but we must act now and make sure that the criminalization and judicialization of a political struggle does not work and set a precedent that endangers the right to free speech and free assembly.

If you, your union, or your organization is able to give any amount of financial help, it would make an undeniable difference in our struggle. In addition to the outpouring of support from labour across Quebec, we have already begun to receive trans-Canadian and international solidarity donations. We thank you for adding your organization’s support to the list.

If you have any questions, please contact us via email legal AT asse-solidarité.qc.ca. Telephone numbers can be given to you in a private message. You can also send you donation directly to the order of “Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante” (2065 rue Parthenais, Bureau 383, Montréal, QC, H2K 3T1) noting “CLASSE Legal Committee” in the memo line.

In solidarity,

Max Silverman
Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal
Volunteer with the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Andrée Bourbeau
Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal
Delegate to the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Emilie Charette
Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal
Delegate to the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Emilie Breton-Côté
Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal
Volunteer with the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

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Filed under activism, international affairs, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, student movements, trade unions

Quebec Government Tries to Bludgeon Student Strikers (Life on the Left)

(Editor’s note. Our thanks to Richard Fidler for permission to republish his excellent analysis here.)

Quebec government bludgeons student strikers with emergency law — but the struggle continues
by Richard Fidler
Life on the Left
May 17, 2012

Quebec premier Jean Charest announced May 16 that he will introduce emergency legislation to end the militant student strike, now in its 14th week, that has shut down college and university campuses across the province. The students are protesting the Liberal government’s 75% increase in university tuition fees, now slated to take place over the next seven years.

The special law, Charest said, will suspend the current session for the striking students and impose harsh penalties for those who in the future attempt to block physical access to campus premises or “disrupt” classes. It will not include the terms the government offered following a 22-hour marathon negotiating session May 4-5 — although, as we shall see below, we have not heard the last of some of those provisions. That offer was rejected overwhelmingly by the students in mass meetings held during the past week. In all, 115 associations representing 342,000 of Quebec’s 400,000 college and university students voted to reject it. Of these, more than 150,000 students are still on strike.[1]

The law will effectively end the present strike, but without resolving any of the underlying issues. The immediate goal of the strike was to stop the tuition hike, but the strike also revived a major public debate over long-standing proposals in Quebec to expand access to university education through abolition of fees and to roll back the increasing subordination of higher education to market forces and private corporate interests. The government turned a deaf ear to the students on all these questions.

“The Liberals have spit on an entire generation,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a spokesman for the CLASSE,[2] the largest student association. “It is a repressive and authoritarian law. It restricts the students’ right to strike, which has been recognized for years by the educational institutions.” The CLASSE has called for a massive march of students and their supporters, to be held May 22 in Montréal. It hopes the numbers mobilized in the streets will be comparable with the estimated 200,000 who came out on March 22 and the even greater number who assembled on April 22, Earth Day.

Equally outraged was the president of the national teachers union, the FNEEQ-CSN,[3] Jean Trudelle. “They talk of accessibility as if was simply a question of opening the doors,” he said. The president of the university professors’ union, Max Roy, likewise denounced the government for failing to take the students’ concerns seriously.

Charest’s announcement came less than two days after education minister Line Beauchamp suddenly resigned not only from the cabinet but from her seat in the National Assembly, admitting that she was no longer “part of the solution” to a crisis that has shaken the government. Arrogant and obdurate to the end, Beauchamp said she had “lost confidence in the willingness of the student leaders to search for solutions and… a genuine way out of the crisis.” Premier Jean Charest promptly replaced her with Michèle Courchesne, a former education minister.

“The problem for us has never been Ms. Beauchamp,” said CLASSE spokesman Nadeau-Dubois. “The problem is the hike in tuition fees. And it is not by changing the minister… that the present crisis will be solved. The crisis will be solved when they agree to talk about the reason why the students are on strike, that is, the increase in tuition fees.”

Charest’s self-imposed crisis

The minister’s resignation underscored the depth of the crisis the Charest government has brought upon itself. For months it tried to trivialize the strike, ignoring the students’ demands, refusing to negotiate, evidently hoping the movement would exhaust itself, especially as the current spring session approached its end with no resolution in sight. But even as they faced loss of their session credits if the strike continued, the students for the most part held firm, successfully mounting defiant mass pickets at many campuses and frustrating more than 30 court injunctions to reopen the institutions, often in the face of massive police violence and multiple arrests. Well over one thousand students have been arrested — a total that far exceeds the previous record arrests in the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto — and many face criminal charges for disruptive tactics or defiance of police orders to disperse.

In recent weeks they have marched each night, usually in the thousands, through the streets of Montréal, in colourful impromptu demonstrations that play cat-and-mouse with police attempts to control their route. It is the “Printemps érable” — the “maple spring” that is the Quebec version of the Occupy movement — in this case occupying the streets of the province’s metropolis.

Although the government and the corporate media have worked relentlessly in recent months to turn public opinion against the students, there were signs that the students’ militant resistance was opening breaches in this strategy. A Léger Marketing poll published May 11 reported that 71% of those interviewed think the government has “mismanaged” the conflict. Another Léger poll found that Francophones (more than 80% of the province’s population) and those under 55 years of age tended to hold the government and not the student associations responsible for the failure to settle the crisis.[4]

The portrayal of the students’ struggle as a self-serving attempt to avoid paying “their fair share” of education expenses is falling flat on its face. Le Devoir columnist Michel David was simply stating the obvious when he concluded: “If so many young people are prepared to sacrifice their session, it is manifestly because they feel they are defending a cause that goes beyond their individual interests.”

As David noted, the strike is showing signs of becoming one of those epochal moments in Quebec’s evolution, a “catalyst,” as he put it, for a burgeoning movement of protest challenging the current direction of the society. His take on this is worth quoting at some length:

“Any society periodically experiences a conflict that captures the imagination and then becomes a sort of landmark. In recent decades Quebec has been marked by the asbestos strike, the strike of the Radio-Canada producers, or the strike by the United Aircraft workers.[5]

“The student strike could well become one of these landmarks. What was initially claimed to be a mere budgetary item has had a catalytic effect on the frustrations of those who are fed up with hearing the ‘lucides’ associate the social-democratic values inherited from the Quiet Revolution with opposition to change or the status quo. […][6]

“It is true that the gradual rehabilitation of the ‘solidaire’ discourse in public opinion began before the student conflict. The world financial crisis, which has spectacularly enhanced the role of the state, the movement of the ‘indignés,’ and the right-wing policies imposed by the Harper government have disturbed people, but the red square [the red felt flash worn by striking students] has clearly favoured the link with what was once called the ‘forces vives,’ the living forces of the society.”

Like any mass struggle of such scope, the student strike has also challenged the existing political forces in Quebec society to declare where they stand. The only party strongly supporting the students, the left-wing Québec solidaire, calls for free education from kindergarten to university.[7] Responding to Charest’s announcement May 16, Amir Khadir, the QS member of the National Assembly, declared his party’s solidarity “more than ever, on the side of the students” and promised to fight any attempt to criminalize dissent. And he added:

“Québec solidaire strongly believes that … the student movement in Quebec has won, in that it has changed Quebec. The movement has won through its intelligence, its unity, by putting a freeze on tuition fees and even free university education at the centre of the debate on education, and education at the centre of political debate.

“Whatever the decision of the student movement on its conduct in the face of the special legislation, we are going to respect it. We are going to accompany this movement and defend it as best we can. Whatever happens in the coming months, the students’ struggle is not finished, and will enter new stages, and our party will be in solidarity with it.”

Ranged solidly against the students are not only the Liberals but the new right-wing Coalition Avenir Québec led by former Parti Québécois minister François Legault, who has been calling for increased police repression and other measures to break the strike.

Somewhere in the middle is the official opposition party, the PQ, which appears to be caught between two stools. PQ members of the National Assembly sport the red square badge of support for the students, to the obvious irritation of Premier Charest and his ministers. But PQ leader Pauline Marois calls only for an “indexed freeze” on current tuition fees — somewhat less than what the PQ congress of April 2011 demanded: a restoration of the freeze at 2007 levels until a summit on higher education is held and legislation is adopted governing tuition fees and incidental fees.

However, at the opening of the PQ national council in early May, Marois said that in the forthcoming elections Québécois will have to choose between “everyone for himself” and the “culture of mutual assistance.” Could she be looking over her left shoulder at Québec solidaire?

Doing unionism differently?

Also tested in this struggle have been the major social institutions of the 99%, Quebec’s trade unions, which continue to represent almost 40% of the province’s workers and a substantial majority of its public and parapublic sector employees. The union centrals are coming under increasing criticism for their approach to the strike — one of lukewarm and largely symbolic support to the students, but at crucial points of doubtful assistance. Details are now emerging of the role played by the leaders of the major union centrals in the May 4-5 negotiations between the students and government, to which they were invited as “advisors” to the students.

Although all three (FTQ, CSN and CSQ[8]) told the ministers they supported the student demands — the CSN said it had supported free tuition for 40 years — it appears from the CLASSE account[9] that the union leaders

  • accepted the government move to focus a “solution” to the strike on reduction of university expenses, possible reductions in incidental fees, but not tuition fees;
  • counselled the students more than once not to “go too far” in their demands;
  • joined with the government negotiators in rejecting a student request after more than 12 hours of meeting for a break in which to get some rest and consult mutually on details of the proposed agreement;
  • later lauded the government offer — while the government termed it an “agreement,” the unions termed it a “road map” toward a settlement — as “good news” for the people of Quebec.

Writing in the left-wing online journal Presse-toi-à-gauche, a publication not in the habit of criticizing the union leadership, René Charest noted the similarity between this “road map” and the sweetheart public sector union agreement negotiated by the union leadership in 2010. The latter agreement made a possible wage increase — mainly at the end of the contract, five years later — contingent on the union’s ability to demonstrate sufficient growth meanwhile in Quebec’s GNP.

“The negotiated agreement on the tuition fee hike, for its part, said it would have to be demonstrated that there were possible savings in order to decrease the incidental fees. In both cases, these agreements acknowledge that the financial framework is insufficient to meet the requirements of the contending parties. … [T]he Liberal government’s device was to tell the students: Pay up or help us rationalize the university: either way, it’s win-win for the entrepreneurial state. You could say the same thing about the union movement in the public sector: ‘If you want to earn more help us reorganize the public finances.’ […]

“What is the role of the union movement in this social struggle being led by the student movement? We don’t really know what happened in the corridors, although some journalists have begun to publish some interesting facts. One thing is clear, however. There has been no real dialogue between the student movement and the union movement since the beginning of this strike, or else we would not have had this tragicomic episode. Yet a strategic dialogue could have begun two years ago when the Coalition contre la tarification et la privatisation des services publics began the battle against the [first] Bachand budget. […]

“And this strategic dialogue could have taken place after the CSN congress last spring. We recall that a member of the Montreal hospital union came to defend a proposal for a social strike against the neoliberal measures of the Charest government. She hadn’t even finished her speech when the hall erupted. A standing ovation, no less! Two or three delegates from the CSN apparatus (central council and FNEEQ) spoke in favour. Then Pierre Patry, a member of the executive, spoke in support, along the following lines: we will support the students and then debate the mandate for the social strike. The next day the new president Louis Roy called for discussing the need for the social strike in the workplaces. Since then, we have heard no echo of this call for a social strike.

“It is not too late to do the right thing. The student movement has no need for mediators or facilitators. It needs the solid support of the union movement as a whole. Perhaps it is time to think of doing unionism differently. That is, to lead a union struggle that is plugged into the social struggles and vitality of the mobilization, and not to the fossilized bureaucratic structures of the entrepreneurial state.”

Professors join in denouncing May 5 ‘agreement’

It should be noted that, contrary to what I reported previously[10] on the basis of press reports, the university professors’ union was excluded from the May 4-5 negotiations and did not support the government “agreement.” In a news release published on May 9, the FQPPU[11] complained that it was therefore prevented from expressing the views of the professors, “whose work will nevertheless be indispensable when courses resume.” And it concludes: “In view of the absurdity of this situation and the trivializing of the issues that has appeared in recent months, the FQPPU does not support the agreement announced on May 5.”

An op-ed commentary on the terms the government had offered, co-signed by FQPPU president Max Roy, published in Le Devoir May 9, gave a “fail” grade to “this travesty,” and called the proposed provisional council “a bad joke” that would “trade off problems of university mission and orientation as simple problems of management.” Furthermore, it would “completely obliterate the meaning of what we do, the preservation of a university that is a genuine collective good, a genuine public service for our entire community.” The proposal as a whole, the authors noted, “offers an accounting solution to a problem that must be resolved in terms of a ‘societal choice’.”

Given the social polarization that resulted, many have questioned why the Charest government has held so stubbornly to its decision to hike the fees — even while advertising repeatedly that the increase, spread over seven years and minus a tax credit, would add only “50 cents a day” to the student bill. In fact, even free post-secondary education, as demanded by many students and professors, would cost barely 1% of the total government budget, according to most estimates.

It seems that shifting the costs of higher education increasingly to the students is as much a principle for the government’s post-secondary education planners as abolishing those fees is a principle for many students and professors. Why is this? Some indication may be gained from articles by Pierre Dubuc, editor of L’aut’journal, who draws on research by Philippe Lapointe, a leader of the CLASSE.[12] Dubuc summarizes the research in an article in the May 17 on-line issue of L’aut’journal. Here is the article, in my translation.

* * *

Charest wants to transform Quebec into a “Right-to-Study State”

by Pierre Dubuc

Maintaining the increase in tuition fees, suspending courses and disqualifying student organizations. With its special law, the text of which is unknown at time of writing, the Charest government continues its effort to integrate Quebec universities in the world university network in accordance with the neoliberal principles of the Bologna process, and transform Quebec into a “Right-to-study state” on the model of the “Right-to-work states” of the southern United States.

In the agreement of last May 6, now obsolete, the minister Courchene slyly introduced, in article 2, the creation of a Permanent Universities Council with a mandate to examine “in light of the best practices” such topics as “abolition and creation of programs, internationalization, partnerships between the universities and the communities, continuing education, the quality of training, research, support and university bodies.”

Close observers of the universities saw in this clause — which has no obvious link to the issue of tuition fees — a desire by the government to comply with the Bologna process. The latter derives its name from a conference held in Bologna in June 1999 in which 29 European countries signed a document that envisaged the creation of a European common space for higher education.

This process is divided into three major reforms. First, standardize studies into three cycles. Second, establish a single system for calculating university credits that are transferable between institutions. Third, institute quality assurance, under the management of agencies external to the universities.

In Quebec, the first two reforms are already in place, apart from the non-compliance of the CEGEP network, hence the repeated calls for its abolition — most recently from the CAQ of Sirois-Legault — and its restructuring on the model of the “colleges” in English Canada.[13]

In Europe, this reform, which is modelled on the American universities, presents education as a personal investment. It is accompanied by a substantial increase in tuition fees, with repayment proportional to income: exactly the measures put forward by the Charest government.

In this big global market, education is an industry and the universities are enterprises fiercely competing to attract international students. The Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec (CREPUQ) has identified, among its priority objectives, the need to “increase the resources to attract foreign students.”

Unsurprisingly, in the middle of the current conflict, the rectors of our universities did not hesitate to go to Brazil to recruit students. The Brazilian government has just announced that more than 100,000 Brazilian students will attend foreign universities over the next four years, at the expense of their government. Canada plans to attract 12,000 and the Quebec universities want “their fair share” of this windfall.

The international market in foreign students is expanding rapidly. In 2008, 3.3 million students were educated in countries other than their own. This is a 154% increase over a five-year period. And of course there is a strong demand for courses in English, which explains the inauguration of courses in English by the University of Montréal, its business school the HÉC and even UQAM, the Montréal campus of the University of Quebec.

In Quebec, the number of international students has risen from 9,135 in 2003 to 26,191 in 2010. Today, in the Quebec universities, close to one student in ten is an international student.

For the Quebec universities and government, the international students “pay” much more than Quebec students, if we make an exception for students from France or other countries with which Quebec has agreements.

Overall, the university fees demanded of foreign students are about seven times higher than those paid by Quebec students. So why not replace Quebec students, ousted by the hike in tuition fees, with students from other countries?

But the fees paid by the international students, even subsidized, do not cover the actual costs of many courses such as medicine, engineering, etc. So we subsidize, through our taxes, a portion of the costs of these students, most of whom will return to their countries at the end of their studies.

Of course, there are other financial advantages for the host countries in accepting international students. They have to be housed, clothed, fed, entertained, etc. But the question is posed: Do these economic spinoffs and the tuition fees they cover compensate for the amount of the subsidy we pay to them?

The presence of international students is, to be sure, a source of cultural enrichment and Quebec has a duty, as a rich country, to welcome students from poor countries. We already have agreements with these countries that codify the disinterested assistance we give them.

However, the current market in international students is something else. It has all the characteristics of an industry and it illustrates perfectly the commodifying of education in the epoch of globalization.

Evidently, the Charest government gives precedence to positioning our universities in the global hall of fame over the schooling of the Québécois.

Unfortunately for it, and fortunately for us, the students do not see it that way. Through their courageous and determined struggle against the tuition fee hike they are challenging the very foundations of this liberal vision of education.

For the government, the issue goes beyond the amount of the tuition fees. Thus it resorts to a special law in which primacy is given to individual rights over collective rights, in which a student’s “right to study” prevails over the collective decision of a student assembly.

This is exactly the situation experienced by workers and unions in the so-called right to work states, those former slave states in the South, where collective agreements are illegal and the unions are condemned to operate in the underground. Is that the fate that awaits the student organizations?

That the Charest government is attacking the right to association should be no surprise to us. There is a lock-out at the Rio Tinto Alma plant because the government opened the door to contracting out with the amendments to section 45 of the Labour Code in 2003. It let the company violate the spirit of the anti-scab law through the hiring of numerous management personnel prior to the conflict, and it allows Hydro-Québec to purchase the kilowatts of electricity freed up by the stoppage of two thirds of production.

The students’ struggle must be the struggle of all Québécois, of all their organizations. It should be taken to the political level and become part of the struggle for the emancipation of the Quebec people.

We will be unable to establish free tuition and improve our social programs while we continue to pay 20% of the tens of billions awarded by the federal government for the operation of the tar sands, the Ontario automobile industry and the purchase of the F-35 fighter planes.

The fight against neoliberalism has its specific national features. In Quebec, it proceeds through national independence. That alone has the potential to shake the structures of domination, to liberate the creative forces, and to be the leaven of social transformation at the level of North America.


[1] For detailed results of the voting, see Résultats des votes sur la dernière offre du gouvernement.

[2] Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante [Broad coalition of the Association for student union solidarity]. Also participating in the strike were the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec; Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, and the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec.

[3] Fédération nationale des enseignants et enseignantes du Québec, which is part of the Confederation of national trade unions (CSN).

[4] See Michel David, “Le nouvel ennemi public,” Le Devoir, May 12.

[5] The 1949 strike in the asbestos industry fostered many of the social and political forces that initiated and led the Quiet Revolution a decade later, as did the Radio-Canada dispute in 1958. A major issue in the 20-month strike at United Aircraft (now Pratt & Whitney), in 1974-75, was the company refusal to allow deduction of union dues at source and later the use of scabs to break the strike. The violent strike ended without major gains for the workers, but was followed by a plant occupation. The PQ government elected soon afterwards allowed union dues deduction and introduced a still-popular anti-scab law.

[6] The lucides (clear-eyed) was the name adopted by a group of right-wing political and corporate leaders who issued a neoliberal manifesto in 2005, which was answered by a manifesto signed by prominent “progressives,” the solidaires, among them some of the founders of Québec solidaire in 2006.

[7] The QS proposals on post-secondary education are outlined in a leaflet that party members have been distributing during the student strike. Click here to see it.

[8] FTQ – Quebec Federation of Labour; CSN – Confederation of National Trade Unions; CSQ – Central of Quebec Trade Unions.

[9] It was also published, inter alia, in L’aut’journal. See also Gilbert Lavoie, “Qu’est-ce qui n’a pas marché entre le gouvernement et les étudiants?” in Le Soleil, May 12.

[10] “Defiant Quebec students reject shabby government offer,” note 2.

[11] Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université. Founded in 1991, the FQPPU includes 15 unions and associations that represent more than 5,000 university professors.

[12] See Philippe Lapointe, “L’ironie de l’assurance-qualité,” first published in Ultimatum and republished in L’aut’journal.

[13] The CEGEPs — Collèges d’enseignement générale et professionnelle — are public post-secondary institutions with a general arts and science or occupational stream that is preparatory to university. Tuition is free in the CEGEPs, unlike the universities.

_____

UPDATE!

May 18, 2012
Charest declares war on Quebec’s students
lifeonleft.blogspot.ca

“It’s a declaration of war on the student movement,” said Martine Desjardins, leader of the FEUQ. “They’ve just told the young people that everything they have done, everything they have created as a social movement for 14 weeks will now be criminal.”

“It’s a bill designed to kill the student associations, but also to silence an entire population…. This law is far worse for freedom of expression than the 75% increase in tuition fees might be for accessibility to education,” said Léo Bureau-Blouin, leader of the FECQ.

Bill 78, tabled late in the evening last night by Quebec’s Liberal government, is draconian legislation. Here are its main provisions, which as I write are still being debated in the National Assembly after an all-night session.

  • It suspends the academic sessions in all colleges and universities affected by the student strike. They will resume in August, and the scheduled fall sessions will be postponed to begin in October.
  • It forces professors — most of whom have supported the students — to report to work by 7:00 a.m. on August 17 and to resume teaching. All staff must, as of that date, perform all normal duties “without stoppage, slowdown, decrease or alteration in his or her normal activities,” and must not engage in any “concerted action” in violation of these clauses.
  • It prohibits any attempt, by act or omission, to prevent access by anyone to an educational institution which he or she has the right or duty to access.
  • No picketing that might inhibit such access may be held within 50 metres of the institution.
  • It virtually bans demonstrations for the next year. Organizers of demonstrations, it says, must tell police how many demonstrators will be involved (!) and their intended route at least eight hours before the demonstration begins, and must comply with any police order to change the location or route. Student associations will be held collectively liable for any damage caused to a third party as a result of the demonstration.
  • Violations of these provisions will be punished by fines of between $7,000 and $35,000 for each leader, employee or representative of a student association. The associations as such may be fined between $25,000 and $125,000, with double these fines for repeat offenses. Individual offenders may be fined $1,000 to $5,000 per day.
  • Student associations deemed responsible for any disruption of courses within an institution may be deprived of their check-off of dues from student fees, as well as their premises and facilities, during one semester for every day of such disruption.

With this law, Quebec is “sliding toward authoritarianism,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesman for the CLASSE, the major student association that represents about half of the strikers. This is a law that “challenges fundamental liberties” and “recognized constitutional rights,” he added.

Pointing to the bill’s attack on the rights of association, demonstration, and speech, Opposition leader Pauline Marois compared the bill with the federal War Measures Act, used by Trudeau to jail hundreds of Québécois in October 1970. Premier Charest, the PQ leader said, “has no further moral authority or legitimacy to govern.”

Amir Khadir, the Québec solidaire member of the National Assembly, attacked Charest for constructing “a police state around the academic community and threatening all those who work in education with his judicial, police and financial bludgeons.”

“This is a dark day for Quebec,” said QS president Françoise David. “Tonight we solemnly appeal to the student movement, the popular movement, the committed artists, the socially responsible lawyers and jurists, the trade unions, the parents worried about the escalation in violence, to put up a determined and concerted resistance in order to make this law unworkable….”arton10329-fdeb3

Earlier in the day, leaders of the FEUQ and FECQ held a news conference accompanied by Marois, Khadir, and other MNAs in a last-minute appeal to the government to negotiate in good faith with the students. Significantly, they were joined by Laurent Proulx, a leader of the “green squares,” a student group that has initiated many of the anti-strike injunction proceedings in the courts. He said his “movement of socially responsible students” supported the position of the former head of the Quebec Bar, who had publicly called for mediation, not a special law, to resolve the tuition fee protest.

Also attending the news conference was Robert Michaud of the “white squares for social peace” movement, formed by concerned parents in the aftermath of the extreme police violence in repressing a pro-student demonstration in Victoriaville early in May.

However, their efforts to head off Charest’s repressive legislation have failed. It now remains to be seen whether these forces can respond to the law with the “concerted resistance” that Françoise David calls for.

The mass demonstration planned for next Tuesday, May 22, in Montréal will be an early opportunity to initiate this defiance.

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Riot Police Try to Stop Student Counter Forum in Kyiv

edu-factory.org

European Education Ministers meet in Kyiv: Counter Forum Prohibited + Protesters detained

Friday, September 23, 2011

Education ministers from across Europe met in Kyiv (Ukraine) for the so-called Forum of European Education Ministers hosted by the Ukrainian government today. Since people in the Ukraine struggle against the increasing commercialisation of education just like everyone else around the world, some students decided that this meeting could not just take place silently.

More than 100 students gathered to voice their opposition to the dominant education policies in the Ukraine and across Europe. The protesters were faced with a massive police presence: even riot police was to keep the students from voicing their opposition.

The police was aggressive and at some stage attacked protesters. Four activists, three of whom are members of Direct Action (a network of independent student trade unions), were detained. The police “offered” to release them in exchange for everyone to stop protesting. But since they saw that this “offer” had no effect, the activists were fortunately released a few minutes later.

The Direct Action network planned to hold a students’ counter-forum (“The Other Side of Education”) during these days, but it was prohibited by a court ruling. Obviously this decision is in violation of the freedom of assembly. According to the law, this freedom can only be restricted if there is a direct threat to national security or public order.

Since “The Other Side of Education” was prohibited, students decided not to set up an encampment as planned, but to march through the city center of Kyiv instead.

The current education reforms in the Ukraine (like in most other parts of the world) are aimed at cutting public spending on education and further commercialization of the education system as a whole. This would make it harder for the financially poorer parts of society to attain an university degree.

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In this report from the scene of events on the Ukrainian channel STV, a police spokesman labels the protesting students common “football hooligans.”

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Photo by zip-cn2. See their complete photo reportage of the counter forum here.

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America (the Beautiful?)

Georgia:

www.DemocracyNow.org — Troy Anthony Davis was killed by lethal injection by the state of Georgia at 11:08 p.m. EDT [on Wednesday] despite widespread doubts about his guilt. The execution occurred shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop the execution. Democracy Now! was the only news outlet to continuously broadcast live from the prison grounds last night where hundreds of supporters Troy Davis held an all-day vigil in Jackson, Ga. Today we hear the voices of Troy Davis’ sister Martina Correia, hip-hop artist Big Boi, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Ed DuBose of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, two members of the Troy Davis legal team, and more. We also hear from journalist Jon Lewis, a witness to the execution: “[Davis] said to the family [of slain police officer Mark MacPhail] that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother. He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth. And then he said to the prison staff — the ones he said, ‘who are going to take my life,’ — he said to them, ‘may God have mercy on your souls,’ and his last words were to them, ‘may God bless your souls.'”

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UC Berkeley:

One of our valued comrades and partner of a UC graduate was severely beaten by police inside Tolman Hall last night, while he cried out repeatedly, “please stop hurting me.” As a matter of course, he was issued severe charges; the more the police injure someone, the worse the charges must be so as to justify their violence.

There is little doubt that he will not be convicted, should this go to trial. However, because his injuries were severe and he had been denied medical attention at the UCPD building nor at Santa Rita, his partner felt it was imperative to get him out as swiftly as possible. This meant posting bond rather than the $15,000 bail, and forfeiting the $1,500.

The good news is that his partner just started a community care job this week that provides medical insurance; she told me this, tearfully but wryly, last night. The bad news is that she is currently broke. She managed to get the necessary amount from her family, but they themselves are quite poor. As a result, we are taking up a collection to help repay them some or all of the amount, and asking for your support. Please understand: because this was bond and not bail, any donations will be exactly that; it won’t be returned at trial. We are grateful for contributions of any amount.

Please contact Joshua Clover (jclover@ucdavis.edu) if you are able to help with this, and we’ll make arrangements about gathering what we can — and we’ll repeat our thanks, both in specific and for the strength of our shared friendships.

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Wall Street:

We want to share insights into the formation of a new social movement as it is still taking shape in real time. The video was shot during the 5th and 6th day of the occupation. This idea to occupy the financial district in New York City was inspired by recent uprisings in Spain, Greece, Egypt, and Tunisia which most of us were following online. Despite the corporate media’s effort to silence the protests, and Yahoo’s attempt to to censor it in e-mail communication, the occupation is growing in numbers and spreading to other cities in the US and abroad. Please forward our video to likeminded people via email, facebook, twitter – and make the voices of dissent circulate. Find the latest news, learn how to participate and support: https://occupywallst.org/

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The Other Side of Education (Kyiv)

http://forum.direct-action.org.ua/

The Other Side of Education
Student Counter-Forum
September 22-23, 2011
Kyiv, Ukraine

On September 22, heads of European departments of education are coming to Kyiv, Ukraine, to specify their own goals and priorities for educational and cultural field during the next few decades. We all know what can be the outcome of these forums—commercialisation, budget cuts, strict centralisation—these things happen all over Europe, and this is their side of education.

No wonder the heads of educational departments come to Kyiv intending to decide the fate of education together. The probblems of Ukrainian students are similar to those of the students in most European and post-Soviet countries—governmental efforts to make education self-sufficient, putting obstacles in the way of the needy to get educated; cuts in financing of liberal arts, binding researches to commercial profit—all these aspects follow the neoliberal reforms, i.e. governmental cuts in social sectors.

We can see the other side of modern education, and it is far less attractive than the pretty picture the officials are trying to present us. Yet we are the other force, the only force that can change the situation.

As opposed to the official forum of the heads of departments students plan to hold an alternative forum in Kyiv, in order to draw attention to the other side of the problems discussed by the officials. If we don’t interfere, they will decide that the aim of education must be to produce narrow professionals for commercially profitable industrial areas, and the priorities in education must be focused on business!

We also know what hypocrites they are when they talk of fighting against xenophobia—because it is they who create the conditions for xenophobia: it is caused by the social and economic conditions that people experience. Educational politics makes education unavailable for the majority, which deepens social inequality and results in xenophobia—the psychological need of the oppressed to find some alien who sticks out and blame him for all evil. In contrast to liberal “fighting” against xenophobia, we act in real international solidarity, which is proved by our alternative forum.

On September 22-23, students from different countries are coming to hold an alternative forum. The forum will consist of a number of events, connected with common ideas of opposition to commercialization of education and prevention of xenophobia.

We will take advantage of the fact that the objects of our criticism will all be in Kyiv to tell them what we think education and culture must be like in the coming decades. We will take the opportunity to occupy the information space to tell European community what modern education is really like nowadays, to show the real reasons of xenophobia, and draw the way in which education can be different, the way it can promote equality and freedom of personality.

We can see the dark side of education, and we will bring the officials to daylight! Come to our side!

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