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Isabelle Porter June 23, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/353221/pas-de-vacances-pour-la-contestation
Big summer march in Montreal and a record crowd in Quebec
Yesterday Quebec saw its biggest protest since the beginning of the student conflict.
A day of protests yesterday in Montreal and Quebec. The two rallies in continuance with March 22nd brought together 15 000 and 10 000 people respectively, showing that the contestation can still be heard at the beginning of school holidays.
At the foot of the monument for Sir MacDonald, place du Canada in Montreal, children, and their parents, prepare to throw balls of paper mâché at a life-sized effigy of Jean Charest, made up as a clown. “Who wants to try?” asks an organizer, loaded with ammunition, to no one in particular. The tone is excited; the mood of the fourth large 22 protest will be decidedly summery and festive on the first day of summer and of school holidays, to the great happiness of ice cream vendors.
In Montreal, while the temperature joyfully exceeded 30 degrees Celsius, the crowd nearing from 10 000 to 15 0000 peoples, a more modest result that previous 22 protests. Of course the mobilization is less strong, more difficult at the moment. Students work and return to their families, recognized Camille Robert, co-spokesperson for the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE), “but we’re not really worried, the mobilization is transforming. For example, the casseroles gave birth to the community assemblies (assemblées de quartier)”. For her colleague Jeanne Reynolds, also co-spokesperson for CLASSE, “the protests aren’t everything, they are part of a group of diverse complimentary tactics. […] The summer may also be an opportunity to take some distance, to stand back and return with new ideas.”
Anti-Charest rally in Quebec
In Quebec, on the other hand, from 5 000 to 10 000 people paced the streets of downtown for what was indisputably the biggest protest since the beginning of the student crisis. “Today, June 22nd, we have some bad news, we are still here”, said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of CLASSE to the crowd.
The organizers had given a meeting time of 2:00PM. Their strategy: to benefit from the Fête nationale to mobilize a maximum number of people. “We benefit from Saint-Jean-Baptiste day and from the 22nd, which is a sort of symbolic day, to gather together and to say that this government, we don’t want anymore”, summarized the spokesperson Hugo B. Lafrenière.
In the crowd, Quebec flags were side by side with red squares and signs against shale gas, but the most common targets remained Jean Charest and the mayor of Quebec, Régis Labeaume. The rule that the latter brought to a vote this week to restrict protests did not go unnoticed.
In Montreal, it was at 3:00PM that the protestors started their march along Boulevard René-Lévesque. The singer Yann Perreau, who was partaking in his fifteenth protest, said he was happy to see the movement continue. “It’s normal that attendance decreases after all this time, but that is not to say that we are less enraged, less indignant. […] Now, there will be the parade for the Fête nationale all over Quebec and that is where the silent ones will come out.”
At 4:30PM, after having gone up Parc Avenue, the protesters stopped at park Jeanne-Mance. After that a reduced procession of several thousand people continued along Avenue Mont-Royal. After several roadblocks to prevent the protesters from descending toward the south, the Montreal Police finally declared the end of the protest a little after 6:00PM.
Known itinerary in Quebec
In Quebec, despite a few tense episodes with the police at the end of the route, the protest ended without incident around 6:30PM.
The tensions appeared when some protesters turned off of the advised route in the neighborhood Saint-Roch. This week, certain activists had denounced the organizers’ decision to give the itinerary to police. “To assembly, to have a big mobilization, the route has to be given”, said M. Lafrenière defending himself. “We joined together with the partner that we had. The unions, the political parties, they’re all partners that demand that the route is given. We think that it’s more important that a lot of people come than the famous debate over route.”
The Parti québécois, Option nationale and Québec solidaire all participated in the event. The Fédération des travailleurs du Québec and the Centrale des syndicats nationaux had also called for the mobilization of their members. Lastly, the leaders of the principal student associations, with the exception of the FEUQ, were also present.
In Montreal, the unusual presence of two fundraising associations brought light to a little known aspect of contestation. In effect, after 130 days of contestation, it is now the financial aspect that suffers from the longevity of the conflict, as yesterday’s presence of the organizations Je donne à nous and the volunteers collecting « Legal Donations » for the Clinique juridique Juripop.
“The strike is long and it generates enormous costs for the rental of buses that transport people to the protests, the contestation of bill 78 and CLASSE’s responsibility to come to the aid of people in their legal actions”, said Camille Robert.
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.