Idiots Within the Quebec Protest Movement

I understand that youth and high spirits make people do silly things but if you want your political activism to be effective, you need to grow up. The student protests of Quebec were fighting for very important goals. However, as often happens, brainless idiots are likely to destroy the movement from within. See the following piece of news:

The student association at CEGEP du Vieux Montréal has come up with a unique response to the Quebec government’s controversial Bill 78 – and it involves purchasing assault rifles.

At a general meeting held Tuesday, the association expressed unhappiness with the “intimidation” and “state violence” in the Liberal government’s “anti-democratic” Bill 78. Those present then proceeded to approve the purchase of 47 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles – as a joke.

The student protest movement in Quebec (which, as I hope everybody remembers, I whole-heartedly support) has failed completely at winning over the sympathies of those parts of the population who pay the very high taxes which always made the cheap higher education in the province possible. The people who work very hard during the day get annoyed when they can’t get home at night because the area has been cordoned off due to the protests. The protesters have not managed to connect with these upper middle-class folks and have not even tried to show to them that their interests and those of the students are indissolubly linked.

We live in a world transformed by the technological revolution. The success of any protest depends on how well you manage to sell the protest in the media an on social networks. Ultimately, the winners will not be the ones who manage to bring the greatest number of people into the streets. The winners will be the ones who create the neatest, coolest, more attractive, most clickable and linkable image of themselves.

I’m sure that these jokes about assault rifles were super fun and there was a good round of laughter shared when they were made. However, this is a very powerful way of alienating the tax-paying full-time working people of the province. The only way to get the protests to be successful is to keep repeating, “We pay the taxes, we want our taxes to buy us something.” This idea will not fly if the actual tax-paying part of the equation is completely alienated.

40 thoughts on “Idiots Within the Quebec Protest Movement

  1. There’s two very different things on you post:

    1) This stupid joke. I agree with you on this very topic. (however, please note that there’s more massive arrests in this conflict than in the October crisis….talking about jokes!)

    2) The government-media-corporate hate propaganda that depicts students like “violent terrorists bolchevists anarcho-communists enfants-rois”. This climate of insults and demagogy creates a context where it’s impossible to discuss with real arguments. You don’t know enough about this to formulate an accurate opinion about this topic.

    In fact, the student movement have abandoned the idea to convince electors about the student fees hike. They concentrate now on the Bill 78, the most oppressive bill in Québec since 1970, a bill that many of the pro-hike supporters doesn’t support.

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    1. “The government-media-corporate hate propaganda that depicts students like “violent terrorists bolchevists anarcho-communists enfants-rois””

      – That’s precisely why the weapons joke will not bring positive results and will just play into this image.

      “In fact, the student movement have abandoned the idea to convince electors about the student fees hike. They concentrate now on the Bill 78, the most oppressive bill in Québec since 1970, a bill that many of the pro-hike supporters doesn’t support.”

      – So if the Bill is withdrawn, the students will just consent to the tuition hike?

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      1. “That’s precisely why the weapons joke will not bring positive results and will just play into this image.”

        Yes, but even if ONE STUPID VANDAL does something stupid in a protest, this propaganda will play into this image.

        “So if the Bill is withdrawn, the students will just consent to the tuition hike?”

        No, but they want to beat Charest in the election to cancel this hike.

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        1. If Charest doesn’t lose the election after this, then I promise never to write another word about Quebec because I don’t understand a country that still elects this jerkwad after everything that happened.

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      2. David,
        —Yes, but even if ONE STUPID VANDAL does something stupid in a protest, this propaganda will play into this image.

        Well, if you see a vandal, beat him up, make a citizen arrest and turn him over to the police. It would be especially funny if the vandal turns out to be a police provacateur…

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      3. —No, but they want to beat Charest in the election to cancel this hike.

        Charest is an ass, but do you really, really believe that PQ will find the money to offset the proposed tuition hikes? That, instead of repaying its current backers with taxpayers’ money via sweet contracts, the PQ will lead more financially responsible policies than the liberals?

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        1. I, for one, have zero doubt that the money could be found within seconds if anybody were willing to look. This is a very rich province that should be able tot afford this.

          In any case, Charest’s political career should be dead after the mishandling of this situation.

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      4. —I don’t think the Quebecois police uses provocateurs, do you?

        I do not have a reference at hand, but weren’t some Quebec policemen acting as provocateurs during Toronto G20 riots?

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        1. “I do not have a reference at hand, but weren’t some Quebec policemen acting as provocateurs during Toronto G20 riots”

          – Maybe I shouldn’t express my opinion on those riots because nobody will like it. I know quite a few people who took part personally. A greater bunch of spoiled, overentitled, bored Momma’s whiny babies the world hasn’t seen.

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      5. —I, for one, have zero doubt that the money could be found within seconds if anybody were willing to look.

        Of course, but who will be willing? The only true political suicide in QC (or in most places for that matter, let’s not be unjust towards QC) is not to repay your backers. Not to do what you promised the voters is just a little gamble compared to that.

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        1. “The only true political suicide in QC (or in most places for that matter, let’s not be unjust towards QC) is not to repay your backers. Not to do what you promised the voters is just a little gamble compared to that.”

          – I want to be more optimistic than that. It can’t all be that bad. At least, in Quebec, eh?

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  2. You do realize that the people who really need cheaper tuitions rates are the ones really getting shafted here. They are the people who’s places of business are now losing business do to the privileged kid protesters who have their tuition paid by mommy and daddy. For christ sake even the feminist strippers who are putting themselves through university are complaining about the protests, it seems no one wants to go to the clubs with all these nutjobs on the streets. 😉

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  3. “Charest is an ass, but do you really, really believe that PQ will find the money to offset the proposed tuition hikes? That, instead of repaying its current backers with taxpayers’ money via sweet contracts, the PQ will lead more financially responsible policies than the liberals?”

    No, but the students movement would have a better context to continue their battle.

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  4. “I, for one, have zero doubt that the money could be found within seconds if anybody were willing to look. This is a very rich province that should be able tot afford this”

    More precisely, there are overspending across the board in Québec so they can afford it easily. I don’t think Québec is so rich right now (ok yeah, Québec is rich but not enough to increase taxes again), but this is not the issue.

    This is an electoralist issue, not a financial issue.

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        1. This excuse that there is suddenly not enough money to support education, medical care, public libraries, unemployment benefits, etc. is now being used all over the world. We hear these lies so much that eventually many people are bound to believe them. But none of it is true. There is money aplenty. There are tons of resources. The only thing that changed is that the greedy politicians and bureaucrats have gotten much greedier. I am absolutely convinced of this because I see it on a smaller scale at my university, for example. All of a sudden, there is no money to continue database subscriptions. Yeah, right. In the meanwhile, the administrators live in veritable castles. Maybe I should publish a photo or two.

          No money. Pssst!

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      1. Of course there is money but the question would then be, “are you willing to get rid of capitalism”? What were those famous words of Gordon Gekko……

        “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A”

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  5. “If Charest doesn’t lose the election after this, then I promise never to write another word about Quebec because I don’t understand a country that still elects this jerkwad after everything that happened.”

    I felt like that in 2003 so imagine how I feel this year. I know what will happen in the next election: a Liberal minority government and an alliance with the CAQ. If this happens, and it will, I really do not know where I would live. I think I would stay in my very progressive neighbourhood and never leave it again, like in a nuclear shelter.

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      1. “What about the NDP then? Isn’t it a very logical choice tor Quebec? What am I not getting?”

        There is no provincial wing of the NDP in Quebec; they severed all ties over support for sovereigntism in the 1980s.
        There *is* a left-wing party called Québec Solidaire, which believes much the same things (although somewhat more radical, and again, somewhat more nationalistic), but they consistently poll dead last in the province.

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          1. I have no idea, to be honest! I’m glad I’m not living there…I’m naturally inclined towards federalism, but the Liberals are just so unspeakably awful. Maybe I would vote for QS or the Greens…

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      2. Who can you vote for when you believe strongly in Canadian federalism, you live in Quebec AND you are progressive? That is a though question. If I were in that situation I would vote for the PQ because they do not support the independence of Quebec and they have been at best a centre political party since Jacques Parizeau left in 1995 anyways:) In fact… I hate to be cynical but if you someone is so allergic to the idea of the independence of Quebec then vote for the Parti québécois.

        QS (Québec solidaire) a pro-independence political party, but they have always been so marginal that they never had to talk about their position on the independence matter much. I do not think that QS will be as marginal after the next election. I would not be surprised in they win seats in Gouin, Mercier, Rosemont-La petite Patrie, and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, located in the Montreal francophone and progressist neighbourhood where I will build my nuclear shelter.

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  6. You know who else the protesters are not connecting with? Young families living in the city and not the suburbs. As much as I support those that are standing up for our rights, my sentiments change every time they go through my neighborhood banging on pots. It’s every night after fail right after I finally put my 2-year old to bed. Why don’t they walk by Charest’s residence in Westmount instead??

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    1. @Sister: The casserole movement is precisely a movement that connects with young families and binds together generations. In my view, it involves people who work during daytime and cannot go downtown to protest, or people who feel more secure protesting in their own neighbourhood. For my wife and I it is easy to protest in our own neighbourhood after a day of work… with our son who is always looking forward to banging on his pot. Then it is time to bed.

      I also think that protesting in Westmount would be awesome. I think that students should protest in front of Charest’s house every night! But I would fear the reaction of the police, especially with bill 78.

      Anyways… protesting in Westmount with casseroles is not likely to happen. Do you imagine Westmount/Hampstead/TMR families protesting in their neighbourhood… I mean… cities? Seriously? I think that you know the social dynamic of these neighbourhood more than I do so you probably understand that this will never happen.

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  7. Pot banging around my house happens between 9 and 11 pm, so it’s quite past the bed time. At what time do you go out in your area? I also don’t think that those are families from my neighbourhood as there aren’t very many families with young children around the Old Port. Since we are between Plateau and downtown, we are probably just on the usual daily route. 🙂 Westmount is so close though but I know it is avoided (even the lower Westmount area, from what I know).

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    1. You do not live in a typical residential neighbourhood… I forgot about that. In Òld Rosemont, where I live, pot banging happens between 8-9 pm.

      I remember we walked westbound in last week big protest on Shebrooke St. a little bit after Peel, and the farthest West we walked the more hostile the environment was. I was actually more afraid of the private security guards from McGill U and from some hotels than actual policemen.

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