Obviously we’re gonna talk about the tuition hikes.
We’re gonna talk about all the goddam right-wing rhetoric, the fascist crap I’ve heard over the past weeks, more than I heard in my class on the Second World War. Crap like “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion”. NO! They’re wrong! Shit, there are always fucking limits!
Here’s an example of a right-wing statement: “Yeah well when I was at university, I got it together, I paid for it all, I was working eight jobs at once. And me, in my time, we had nothing, and I didn’t have to go to university. And the youth today! My kids, well, they’ve got everything! And me, and me…”
Why are you talking about yourself? Do you think Quebec will be making administrative decisions at the governmental level based on you and based on the fact that when you were young, you had a shitty life? Why, are you jealous of kids today? They sleep with more girls? What’s your fucking problem? If your life was crap, we’re not going to build a provincial budget based on your jealousy towards kids these days. ”But kids these days!” Yeah but they’re kids! You didn’t raise them, for christ’s sake.
I’m gonna give you an example of right-wing rhetoric. You’ll see, it’s good. Me, I’m healthy. Me, I don’t take medication. Me, I don’t go to the hospital. And now, well, health care costs us a lot. And say we’ve got Charest who passes a law stating that every time you go to the hospital, you have to pay 250$. Then people, fuck, they’re gonna be freaking out, they’re gonna go protest. “Me? I don’t give a damn. Me, when I was sick, I healed myself. We walked all the way to school. I took care of business, I’m healthy so you know, I don’t give a damn.” Yeah well, you know, there’s this little lady who has cancer and goes to the hospital twice a week! “Oh well, goddamn freaks, they’re always complaining, they always want more. She can die.”
7 dollar daycare. “Me, I’ve got no kids. I don’t give a damn.” “Yeah, but me, I’ve got three kids.” “Ok, look buddy, having kids is an investment. Everyone should pay their fair share. Parents…” “But I don’t give a fuck, I don’t have kids.” “But you see, with my taxes, I want services, and on top of everything, this allows me to go back into the workforce.” “Why would would I pay some taxes so that you can just go back to working your 13$ and hour secretary job when we can’t go and pay for that kid’s studies so that he can go to school and become, I dunno, an architect?”
OK! The government takes our income taxes in order to offer us services and to provide incentives to tax payers in order to join the job market. Oh 7$ daycares are a good idea.
Facilitating access to higher education, I think that’s a good idea. “Yeah but in Quebec, we’re the province that pays the lowest tuition fees.” Of course, but we here in Quebec are the province that pays the most taxes and highest income taxes. We pay a crapload of taxes in order to offer our fellow citizens services such as 7$ daycare, health care, and HIGHER EDUCATION. You can’t eat the butter and keep the butter money. You can’t have the same tuition fees as a province that pays half of our income tax. And you can’t ask a kid to pay a high amount of tuition before he finds himself on the job market and then paralyze him when he gets out with a 50% income tax rate. It’s like paying twice. “Yeah but they’re only protesting for a hike of 200$ a year.” Ok, firstly… “Yeah but if you calculate tax credits that nearly no one’s entitled to and a reimbursement of GST and PST (that he’d gotten anyways) that’s just an increase of…” Ok look, the hike is of about 350$ a year. But it’s not 350$ a year. It’s 350$ the first year. The second year it’s 700$. The third year, it’s up to a grand! It’s that the kid out there protesting in the streets, he’s not protesting for himself. If he’s done his BACC in like 3 years, it’ll only be at a grand more. It’s for the other kid in 4 or 5 years who’ll have to pay 4-4500$ per year in tuition fees. Instead of needing to borrow 20 grand in loans and bursaries, he’ll be needing 30 or 40 grand. A MORTGAGE, fuck. He’s gonna take out a mortgage so that in three years, he can maybe have the merit to get a diploma and then find himself as a teacher, or you know, we don’t all become doctors and surgeons who earn 150-200 grand a year. He’s gonna get a job at 30-40 grand and will end up with a loan repayment of 30-40 grand that’s the equivalent of a TMR rent.
“Yeah well kids today, they’ve got everything!” Ok, look, that’s an argument, well since the Greeks, 500 years BC, Plato was all like “Kids today, they’ve got it all!” Ok look, each and every parent thinks that their kids have more than they had. Which in essence is supposed to be a good thing. You’re supposed to RAISE the next generation. But you know, it’s not true. “It’s cuz kids they’ve got iPhones, and they travel!” Well look, me, when I was in university, I had a phone at home! Christ! We’re not in Cambodia! I had a walkman to listen to music. I had a stereo. I’d even bought myself a little Kodak to take photos. Well, kids nowadays, they’ve got iPhones and you pay 200$ and it does all that! and it’s big like this! And the iPhone subscription is like 30 bucks a month. So you’re gonna say they’re not allowed to have a phone (translator’s note: this refers to the infamous journalist Richard Martineau who attempted several times to discredit the student movement by accusing them of having enough money to have mobile phones). Not to have one to call home to mom to ask her for a quart of milk, of course not. Fuck. “Oh and they travel!” Yeah they travel. So you wanna go and travel the way they do it? Go backpacking on the west coast of the states and sleep in a sleeping bag. “But they go to Europe!” Oh yeah, they go and sleep in youth hostels on bunkbeds. “Yeah but they go down south!” Yeah, and they rent a room and cram eight people into it. Look, if you’re jealous and wanna go travel, go! “Yeah but I can’t go because I have a mortgage to pay on my house.” Well the student lives in a fucking crappy apartment, shitholes where you can hear the neighbors taking a crap. Look, he’s got nothing. He’s got a pair of socks, a mattress on the floor, and iPhone and a laptop. Except that from time to time, a bunch of them hop in a car and head south to spend a week on spring break in Florida. They don’t live in a home with an above-ground pool. No. They’ve got nothing. They go to university and they come out with debt for having studied. “No but young people have everything!” Ok, why don’t you drop it. Goddam jealousy, that’s enough. Whats funny is that kids come out of school and owe in loans what baby boomers owed in mortgages on a house. But no house, you get that? They get out of university with 30 grand in loans. Christ, in the eighties, you could get a house for that amount of money! With an asphalt driveway and a lawn. And now you really want tuition fees to rise and rise and rise. That’s a good investment on the part of the government that it eventually costs 5 grand to go to university. That’s no problem, they’ll come out of university with 30-40 grand in loans, well, they’ll stop going to university. No problem. Some of them will still go. The kids of rich Anglo families will still be able to go to school, they’ll go to med school. And you know what they’ll do when they get out? THEY’LL GO PRACTICE IN THE STATES BECAUSE THEY CAN MAKE MORE MONEY. Chirst, we’re gonna be lacking doctors, goddammit. That’ll be great! Because the poor guy up in the Saguenay who has to leave home to go to school and has to borrow money have pay for his rent and has to lean on loans and bursaries, that’s it! Those kids have everything, for christ’s sake. Yeah that’s it. They’ve got everything.
And now they’ve gotta go and send in the army because they’re out protesting. And you on your sofa watching TV in Longueuil, well, it’s bothering you that it’s what you’re hearing about. Someone’s gonna have to die so that it ends and you can go back to watching your insignificant news! “We’re gonna watch Loft Story.” In any case, the media are doing such a shitty job of covering the protests that seriously, stop watching the news! “There were riots in Montreal this weekend.” Riots? They broke three windows! An ATM at the Bank of Montreal was vandalized, two windows were broken. Yeah right, the Bank of Montreal has no money to repair its goddam window. Whereas 40 or 50 kids get their face smashed into the ground, get cayenne pepper in their eyes, they club the bodies of 20 year-old girls and now we’re all concerned about the poor little broken window, who’s leaving its window family grieving…”They burned three cones!” [This refers to the fire at the intersection of Ontario and St-Denis] It seems to me that anyone in Montreal would want to burn those fucking cones! There are like twenty-two of them on each street corner! That’s another argument, fuck. That 17 year-old who gets punched out by the cops. “Yeah, she just had to not be protesting!” Oh, she just had to not go protesting? Like you? You’ve already renounced to all your democratic rights. You’ve gotten fucked up the ass so often by the government that when it happens, you don’t feel it anymore. And you just take it for granted because firstly, you don’t have any courage or political ideologies and secondly, in twenty years, you’re gonna die, well you’re all pissed off and the kids should be as veg as you too! “They just had to not be out protesting!” For christ’s sake, that’s lame. Seriously. Don’t project your shitty values onto the next generation, and don’t expect the youth of tomorrow, you know, the ones who are going to be taking care of you and are gonna be cleaning that old age home of yours, that they have the same rotten values of yours of only wanting to amass personal wealth or allow all three of those wealthy people in Quebec get rich. Come on!
Let’s talk about the media. The Journal de Montréal, La Presse. So it turns out that 66% percent of you are in favor of this new law [results of a La Presse survey conducted the day after bill 78 was drafted]. Ok, I’m gonna explain something to you. The Journal de Montréal belongs to Péladeau. Charest gives that guy a fucking hockey arena so that he can put a hockey club in there. La Presse belongs to Desmarais. Desmarais paid to have Charest elected. And you, you think newspapers are objective? Look, go on the internet once in a while and instead of seeing the images of a broken window, you’ll see those images of the youth being beaten up.
Anyways, if you think that it’s still just a question of money, this whole debate about tuition fees, seriously, look at this puppet show. Here [Gaétan shakes his right hand] you have people who are protesting. Ooooh. And while that’s happening this hand is going into your pocket [left hand of the puppeteer goes into your pocket] and I take your wallet. Ooooh [shakes right puppet hand] so we make them a first offer and spread the tuition hike over 7 years instead of 5 years. They refused. In the meanwhile [turns to the left hand of the puppeteer] Hydro Quebec ceded the exploitation rights to the natural gas on Anticsoti Island to Pretrolia. There are three ex-heads of Hydro Quebec now at Petrolia. The terms of the agreement and the royalties are unknown. 30 billion barrels of oil at 100$ a barrel [waves right hand of the puppeteer]. Oh! [raises left hand of the puppet] we are giving the students a second offer where there’s going to be a joke of a committee where there will be like 4 students and 39 others who are going to study the universities’ spending habits and if you find money in there well maybe we’ll be able to put some of that towards tuition fees. And during that time [raises left hand of the puppeteer] we’ve got the Plan Nord. The same year we ask students to pay 300 million more in tuition fees – because the government has no money – we’re gonna pay 300 million so that a Chinese company can come and extract diamonds, puts them on a boat, ships them back to China where they’re gonna refine them. Not here, because we don’t have the expertise to do so here. The government will be investing 40 billion in the Plan Nord over the coming years. They’re going to be investing 40 billion to create – or maintain – 20 000 jobs. That, well if you know how to count to 10, that’s 2 million per job. That’s kinda like if the government were to give 50 000$ a year over forty years to 20 000 people. At that price, just give them the cheques and don’t touch the North. Christ, they’re gonna create oceans of acids, they’re gonna scrap the place so that we don’t even make a bloody cent. “Oh but these days, so that the minerals can be sold at competitive rates, we have to offer them their electricity at the high power rates [?] because otherwise, it wouldn’t be profitable for them to extract our resources.” Listen, three quarters of our raw materials have an expiry date. Between now and 15, 20, 30 years, there won’t be any more gas, there won’t be any more uranium, there won’t be any more lead. So that means you leave those raw materials there and their price will go up. So that in 5 years or 10 years, when uranium will be at like, I don’t know how much a ton, they’ll pay to come see us, they’ll pay for their roads, and that’s what we call leaving something for the [next] generations. Because you know, the mining model used to create long-term job growth, that’s always been a great formula. Let’s think about Gagnonville, Schefferville, Murdochville, you know, money forever! So we’re gonna create 20 000 jobs up north, but on that, about half of those will be foreign workers who’ll have to come because we’re lacking in specialized labour. So we’re gonna do some fly-ins and fly-outs with the Chinese, Mexicans, who are going to come here, make their salaries, take that money and take it back to their country. Fucking great economic windfall! Instead of subsidizing our youth, helping them find higher levels of work, we’re going to subsidize the primary sector. Fucking beautiful decision for society. “We don’t have money for education! It’s only 200$ a year! Why are the youths protesting?” They’re protesting because they’re trying to build a better world, because the world that you’re leaving them is a piece of shit of corruption, of vileness, of inequality. And when you’re twenty and you look at that, you think it’s aberrant that we’ve reached that point. That we’ve been getting fucked over to the point of thinking that it’s normal. “Corruption in the construction business?” [shrugs shoulders] “Oh and the Plan Nord? It’ already fucked!” [shrugs shoulders] “Oh but those kids, dammit! Our kids who want a better world and then they protest, it’s out of the question.”
So after a while, when somebody tells me that between the right and the left, that everyone has their own point of view, my fucking problem is that I’ve listened to the problems of a bunch of people, I’ve researched, I’ve read. When they’re arguments from the left, we’re talking about society – if we make this investment, we can have these benefits. Listen, I’m not someone who’s that much of a leftist. For me, giving syringes to druggies, you know, no. You know what I mean, the free for all. Fully free tuition? I don’t agree with it. You might hate me for that, but I’m conscious that we’ve gotta pay at least a little bit. Because sadly, if it were free, then you’d go into university and you’d take a degree in literature, then a degree in…I’m not of the marxist-leninist left. Except that the right, the only things they’ve gotta say is “well, now we’re gonna pay for this? But me in all that, and me and me…” I’ve yet to hear anyone tell me a right-wing opinion that stood up. I don’t know why. A right-wing rhetoric that’s gonna tell me: “Look, seriously, we have to raise tuition because we’re at the point of declaring bankruptcy.” Ok, I don’t want to tell you the bad news, but we’re kinda already declaring bankruptcy right now, we’ve been there for already twenty years. When I was in CEGEP, I got dragged outta there by the anti-riot squad because they raised tuition fees in the nineties. And they told me “now we’re tired of paying for this. You guys, take care of your studies.” But now, the discourse has evolved a lot. Now it’s “now we’re tired of paying for this. You guys, take care of your studies.” But now all the kids have iPhones. It’s nice to see that it’s evolving. Fuck I’m ashamed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.