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Virginie Larivière - Doctoral student in Environmental Sciences at UQAM and author and spokesperson for a petition of 1.5 million signatures against television violence in 1992.
June 19, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/actualites-en-societe/352769/malhonnetete-ehontee
Dear Premier Jean Charest,
I hope, in this space, to express my trouble with your repeated appeals condemning the banalization of violence and intimidation. Not because I do not condemn these myself; I was even inclined to denounce the banalization of televized violence at the beginning of the 1990s, after the murder of my young sister Marie-Ève.
If my activism is nowadays less public, know that I always denounce and condemn the recourse of violence and intimidation in all situations. In one breath, and like you, I condemn the smoke bombs in the metro, the riots of April 20 around your salon du Plan Nord[event announcing the government’s plans for exploiting natural resources in the north], the Victoriaville riots, the breakers of the windows, the “sung” violence of the music group Mise en demeure.
That said, since the beginning of the student conflict and the social crisis that are shaking Québec, your government has demonstrated a shameful dishonesty by appropriating the themes of violence and intimidation, posing at the same time as victims of this and as ardent defendants of law and order.
Your denunciations of violence and intimidation have served only to legitimize the hard line of your government. With a smooth paternalism, you have abusively justified, in the name of violence, intimidation, or the radicalization of the student movement, the exclusion of CLASSE at the negotiating table (April 25), and then, the pure and simple torpedoing of the eventual negotiations with the new Education Minister, Michelle Courchesne, and this, benefiting from the adoption of Bill 78.
This law, dripping of a distasteful contempt, inflicts violence on the democratic foundations of our society, on its Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its Constitution. This law, unjust and disgraceful to Québec, was denounced at the same time by the magnanimous silence of some 500 lawyers who exceptionally took to the street; and by the rhythmic noise of many casseroles (pots and pans) that were abused night after night.
Your former Education Minister, Line Beauchamp, and you yourself have hammered home that the students did not constitute a homogenous and monolithic group, and said this with the sole intent of marginalizing the students who are on strike. This is what you are striving for now, with the Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre, to rub out the nuances and homogenize the composition of a movement in which a panda (the freaking panda! We have seen more aggressive ones, you will agree) has become the emblem.
To associate the red square, a symbol of student solidarity without precedent in Québec history, to violence and intimidation, is nothing more than an exercise in demonization, it’s an insult to one’s intelligence.
I will add that your fiery agitation against violence and intimidation seem s to me to be fairly fickle, just as I find the subjects of your vacation questionable. You are quick to wake up and denounce violence and intimidation; you present yourself as imperial when faced with a student who puts himself out there for the fate he would like to reserve for the Grand Prix de Montréal; you denounce at length the distasteful linguistic derivations of Mise en demeure.
Considering your formidably intractable attitude in matters of violence and intimidation, I find your silence regarding the abusive and brutal police interventions that have taken place in Québec for weeks now, deafening. This worrying situation, denounced by Amnesty International (AI) in a call for an independent investigation, was, like all of the AI report, amazingly snubbed by your government.
And it is with the same presumptuousness that you ignored a second report by Amnesty International, which this time opposed the adoption of Bill 78.
Face with your remarkably uncompromising attitude towards violence and intimidation, I find it disconcerting to know that the Minister of International Relations, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, finds that violence and intimidation which is “made in Québec” are not of a sufficient calibre to worry the United Nations (UN).
Mise en demeure sings some claptrap, you make a plateful of complaints; Amnesty International and the UN communicate their concerns to you regarding the unfolding of the demonstrations, regarding the police interventions, regarding the abuses of Bill 78… and you have nothing to do! What a fabulous incoherence!
This violence, among others
As a doctoral student at UQAM, I am, you should know, against the daunting tuition hikes that you are imposing; know that I voted for the strike at each one of my student assemblies; that I wear the red square. Know that I am angry, and that I express this by pounding the pavement, the rhythm and my casserole in the streets of my neighbourhood and those of the downtown core for three and a half months now. Know that I believe in a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Know that I believe that it starts with your condemnation of violence and intimidation… especially [the violence and intimidation] that you refuse to acknowledge.
Translated from the original French byTranslating 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.