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Marco Bélair-Cirino May 24, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/actualites-en-societe/350783/les-casseroles-s-en-melent
“Ting ! Ting! Ting!” The invitation to join the movement, “Nos casseroles contre la loi speciale” (Our pots and pans against the bill) has spread like wildfire over social networks over the course of the last days, so well that last night, tens of thousands of protestors brought out their kitchenware and clanged… hard. People of all ages—from little ones in pyjamas, infringing their curfews under the complicit eyes of their parents, to grandmothers with their hair in rollers—gave themselves over wholeheartedly on their balconies or in the streets.
“We won’t take it, it’s not complicated!” Linda Jolicoeur made it known at the heart of a gathering of more than 250 protesters at the intersection of Laurier and Fabre, in Montreal. An Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend [loi 78], adopted last week by the National Assembly of Quebec – 68 in favour, 48 against, as the premier Jean Charest is pleased to remind us – severely restrains the freedoms to protests in their eyes. Not hesitating to compare it to the War Measures Act invoked during the October Crisis, Mrs Jolicoeur deems the legislation “too severe,” “useless,” and as “contributing to the amplification of people’s rage.” “I am without words before the attitude of the government,” she added, while banging her wooden spoon against her cookware.
At 8:00pm on the dot, thousands of people like Linda Jolicoeur went outside firmly holding a pot and a spoon and waiting only for a neighbour to make the first notes to clatter their cookware. Other “casseroles” (the French word for a stovetop pot) clustered together in tens at animated intersections in order to make their discontent with the Liberal government heard, before setting out for the thirtieth nightly protest against the tuition hikes downtown.
From the height of his six years, Théo Pelletier and his younger sister, Ève, affectionately nicknamed “Eille” for her assertive personality, also made their discontent heard, conscientiously giving their bowls hits with their spoons. In the middle of the evening, they adjusted quietly to the idea of putting themselves to bed, looking on with envy at the hundreds of people marching nearby, on rue Masson. “Tomorrow!” Dad promised.
The movement, born last Friday in the neighborhoods of Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Mercier—Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and the Plateau-Mont-Royal, yesterday evening embraced also Ahunstic-Carierville, the South-West, Verdun and… Outremont, in addition to Quebec city.
“Bang on it with all the rage that this special law inspires in you!” the instigator of the dissent movement called out on Facebook. “I threw out the invitation on Facebook the night of Thursday to Friday at the moment when there were the debates on the bill. I threw the bottle into the ocean without knowing who would answer the call,” he explained.
Some 1000 people were publicly associated to the group when the first clangs of pots were given last Friday at 8:00pm. Yesterday, they were ten times, twenty times, as many to participate in the protest from all corners of the metropolis.
M. Chené said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the popular craze created by his idea, but in the same breath, refused the title of the organizer of the din. “It’s out of my control. I threw the idea out there and all those who were interested took it up,” he added. The professor of Political Sciences at the CÉGEP de Saint-Hyacinthe – still on strike – underlined the “accessible” character of this political action. “It allows all those who don’t want to, or who can’t, participate in the nightly protests… Sometimes, it’s not reassuring to see what’s going on.
François-Olivier Chené was inspired by dissidents under the Chilean dictatorship which considered any gathering of more than four people to be an “illegal assembly.” “Obviously, we don’t live in a dictatorship. However, this law is a step in the wrong direction.”
If they were called to make a maximum of noise for a quarter of an hour, several people banged their spoons for more than four hours near their residence, not without sparking a few sighs of exasperation from some of their neighbours. “Banging on pots and pans for three hours has a positive effect: it’s rad. On the other hand, the negative effects… we bother the neighbours, who start to detest us in silence. … We draw in the police. We draw in TVA, who will quickly put a microphone under the nose of a crying baby and its panicking mother,” underlined Luc Tremblay, on the Facebook page for the group before the kickoff for the din yesterday.
Declared illegal even before it set off, the 30th consecutive nighttime protest set to marching just before 9:00pm under a strong police presence. The first half hour passed in a festive atmosphere and even with humour, as a few groups of 49 protesters walked up and down the streets of Montreal. But following that, things heated up. The police had proceeded to two arrests at the time of press, but had surrounded a few hundred people at the intersection of St Denis and Sherbrooke Sts.
STM drivers cautioned
The union of bus drivers and metro operators of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), is pressing its members to not take overtime on a voluntary basis in order to escape the police transport operations allocated to the daily protests of students opposed to the tuition increase. “Protestors or rioters could associate our members with police work and intimidate them, or even attack them. In our opinion, the work of driving buses under these circumstances belongs to the police force,” underlined the president of the SCFP 1983, Denis Vaillancourt.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.