Saturday, May 26, 2012

#ggi & #ows Quebec protests spreading beyond Montreal and being just about tuition | News | National Post

Quebec protests spreading beyond Montreal and being just about tuition | News | National Post

MONTREAL — The unpredictable nightly protests that helped spur a government crackdown have largely been a Montreal-only affair — until now.

Since Premier Jean Charest passed a law last week limiting protests in the province, defiant demonstrations have popped up in cities not known as hotbeds of activism.

Small groups from Granby, south of Montreal, to Jonquiere, north of Quebec City, have joined Montrealers in taking to the streets with pots and pans to protest Bill 178.

Their message is clear: This conflict is not just about tuition anymore.

Video: Quebec students fight for right to protest

Quebec protesters march through heavy rain and lightning
NELSON WYATT MONTREAL— The Canadian Press, May. 26, 2012

...Marches were also held in some other Quebec communities Friday, including the provincial capital and Sherbrooke. There was even a small pot-banging protest in downtown Toronto to support the Quebec students.

The tone of the Montreal march, despite the weather, reflected Thursday’s peaceful outing which drew throngs out on a warm evening. Friday’s march had a similar party vibe in the city where residents joke that there’s a festival every five minutes.

Besides the symphony of clanking pots and pans — a Chilean tradition which people used to protest against dictators — demonstrators danced in the streets and small singing groups appeared in other areas, such as outside the park where the nightly demonstration kicks off.

The pot-banging wasn’t limited to the demonstration however — more rang out from supporters on the sidewalk, and one taxi driver gleefully held up a heart-shaped baking pan that he beat with a metal spoon.

A man identified as Anastase Gentlethug tweeted, “Walmart has seen a big increase in pot sales this month.”

On a less friendly note, there were reports of an incident in the downtown bar strip where students catcalled a man who gave them the single-digit salute from the sidelines.

The protest had been declared illegal by Montreal police the moment it began because no route had been provided to authorities. Police said that violated a municipal bylaw.

The above mentioned article in the National Post let's say reflects my own views on this subject that is the issue is not just about tuition fees.

Yesterday I was using the remarks of CBC's Rex Murphy to point out the hypocrisy and duplicity of self-branded liberals who appear at times anything but liberals. The unfortunate reality is as we see in the USA and here in Canada is that so called liberals have moved further to the right over the last 20 or 30 years. The CBC is now no different really than Canada's other major network CTV. Both have become the mouth pieces of the status quo and the 1% who rule this country and control a majority of elected and un-elected officials. Since this class is doing well these days they cannot understand or fathom the fear and anger of those who are not doing all that well and can only believe that things for them and their children will just get worse.

Is the protests in Quebec only about the raising of university tuition fees or is it merely symbolic of greater issues of inequality ie economic inequality and government's priorities . For example Is the purchase of a number of fighter jets by the federal government more important than the Canadian government's obligation to higher education across the country. The current government of Canada is following the lead of other countries in a time of financial difficulty choosing austerity measures over other policies to correct the problem. The Harper government is in the process of passing legislation to cut back on unemployment insurance now known as in bureaucratize as Employment Insurance pay outs even though we are told the EI /UI is in fact flush with money.

Rex Murphy at CBC and other commentators and a lot of so called self-branded liberals are somewhat sanctimonious in their condemnation of the protests taking place in Quebec or those taking place across Canada under the brand of the Occupy Movement they appear to sufferfrom a form of amnesia about how various groups have had to struggle to achieve their goals ie women's rights and equality and others blacks, gays and so forth.

The question for any such group wanting to question and ultimately overthrow the status quo is where does one begin. The struggle for African Americans in the USA in part began with ending segregation at public schools 1954 Brown v the Board of Education. Before that the fight for equal rights began with the the struggle to end the "lynching laws" in the USA since the majority of those legally lynched were black men . But one of the issues which received more media attention was the boycott of municipal buses and later the buse companies which operated across state lines.

Now some liberals may believe that desegrating buses or lunch counters at Sears was not somehow worthy of massive protests and bringing whole town or cities to a standstill. But as for organized civil disobedience one has to begin somewhere and it is important to choose one's battles. So desegration and equality and protection of civil rights were the goals .

But one has to begin somewhere . The particular battles may even appearto be trivial but they become symbolic of the greater struggle. So when a black woman refuses to sit at the back of the bus and refuses to give up her seat to a white passenger this may be an issue of little importance but it became symbolic of the unjust Jim Crow segregation laws in the Southern States of America. The least and the greatest journey's it is said begins with one small step. So desegrating buses was not necessarily a life and death situation as long as one obeyed the law. But as a symbol it became the impetus for the local boycott which lead to the energizing of what became the Civil Rights Movement.

Currently when it comes to Gay Rights and the rights of the GLBT community Gay Marriage has taken on this mantle of a symbolic struggle for equal rights. Again this issues may not seem that important for why should the Gay community worry so much about having the right to be married. The issue is really about seeing Gays as being equal to non-gays at least in a legal sense. As Martin Luther said the law and the government cannot make white people love him or even care about him but the law can be used to ensure his equal rights and protect him against violence to his person.

Even today the justice system in the USA is still geared towards treating blacks and other people of color unjustly. The police and justice system uses the law to continue the oppression of black people in America. Blacks are disproportionately harrassed by the police and are disproportionately taken into custody and charged and this continues on to the trial of black people to their being sentenced. Since Blacks are disproportionately represented in American prisons this leads to the erroneous conclusion that blacks are more prone to criminal activity than are white Americans. But in fact the situation is not that straight forward and studies have been done over the years showing black Americans are not more prone to criminal activities as Whites and it is the whole gamut of the justice system from law enforcement to trials and to prisons which knowingly or unknowingly leads to injustice for black Americans.

For instance the Trayvon Martin murder became symbolic of how unjust the justice system is in the USA. But it highlighted widespread racism and racial profiling and brought to the fore the "Stand Your Ground" Laws which gives citizens the right to pre-emptive shooting of would be threats whether real or imagined and the incident also pointed out the lack of more substantive gun control laws in the USA. According to the prevailing conservative or neo-liberal view we are all on our own and the notion of community is being undermined. The attitude of we are all in this together is replaced by each against each. Society as such according to this view is that society is just a bit of old fashioned out of date quaint "liberalism".

So getting back to the protests in Quebec this is in a variety of ways connected to the Occupy Movement and similar movements across Europe and the uprisings in the Middle east and Africa. All are fundamentally about not just individual rights but about collective rights, responsibility and accountability. Neo-liberalism and its twin neo-conservatism insists that by supporting the top 1% of society this will somehow trickle down to the rest of society. Those who are unemployed or underemployed are seen in this view as responsible for their own situation and ignores the economic reality. If government's and corporations choose austerity and cut backs and massive lay-off and relocating in countries which have few if any rights for workers and at the same time there is ongoing downsizing and the shrinking of government services this is not the individuals fault.
What has happened going back at least to 2008 is a financial meltdown of capitalism gone awry . CEOs get to take home ever growing salaries and bonuses and other perks while the people who work for a company are forced to accept a reduction or freezing of wages and cuts to benefits while others are simply laid off without any regard to their actual personal productivity or loyalty.

Meanwhile CEOs and their government counterparts get rewarded whether they are more or less productive. They can even by their own ineptitude take down the corporation they manage and still be rewarded. The proto-economics spokesperson or academic act as apologist for a corrupt system which has little relation to free market capitalism in which there is real substantive competition as already bloated corporations absorb smaller corporations creating a less regulated monopolistic capitalism and an unworkable more and more interconnected interlocking parts of the economic system where there is no line between bankers, investment firms and corporations that actually produce some physical and not theoretical products.

These companies which are meant to create physical products when they start to do poorly in the market place put the blame on everything from government regulations, taxation and wage demands of the workers rather than mismanagement at the top or an inability to make changes to their products to fit consumer needs and what consumers can actually pay for these products.
But in many instances these poorly performing entities go merrily on their way believing if worse comes to worse they can ask the government for bail outs and or lower taxes and cut the workforce and or decrease the wages of their workers.

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