Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The recent, and indeed on-going, college and university student protest movement in Quebec is of historical significance. For the first time in North America a European-level of student solidarity has arisen. Previously, student militance tended to be a minority movement or, as with opposition to the war in Vietnam in the USA, sparked by something outside of direct campus issues. Here we have a student general strike over the neocon Liberal govts. abolition of bursaries. More than 200,000 students have taken part in actions. Even the rather conservative economics students of the University of Montreal went out for a day. Some high schools went out in solidarity, as well.

The movement has a sense of humor and is mature. In one action the students formed an orchestra, stood in from of the Liberal Headquarters and played the "103rd Symphony" (in reference to the $103 million cut from bursaries) There has only been one minor action out of hundreds - the partial looting of a supermarket - that might turn off supporters. And public support does run high - 63% according to the polls. ( I remember when student protests got very little public support.)

Decisions are made at mass democratic assembles. Hopefully, this will remain the case and the students will refrain from throwing up a group of "leaders" who will act as intermediaries, and eventually sell-out the movement.

The state is backed into a corner. They offered $70 million in bursaries and the students refused - only the restoration of the full $103 million. Some campuses went as far as to demand that the govt resign as their only negotiating point.

All of this bodes well for the future. Student movements often invigorate the workers movement (remember 1968!) and this may be the shot in the arm we need, in order to have an all-out general strike against the Pinocharest regime and its vicious attacks upon workers. Mass student activism is a radicalizing process which gives rise to a whole new generation of militants. The future is hot!


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