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Blandine Parchemal, Ph.D. student, Université de Montréal August 9, 2012
“If the student strike continues, that will play into the Liberals’ game”. “By prolonging the strike, students are participating in the re-election of the Liberal Party”. These words can be heard everywhere these days: as much from right wing pundits opposed to the movement as from those wearing the red square, be they citizens, journalists, professors or students.
But what exactly does that mean, playing the Liberals’ game?
The reasoning goes like this: if the strike continues and the anticipated return to classes does not happen in most universities and colleges (CÉGEPs), there will be a lot of violence, mostly due to law 12 (formerly Bill 78). The Liberal Party would then simply to roll out a law and order campaign platform, which would appeal to what is touted as a public desire for a return to peace and security. Thus, because continuing the strike would provoke feelings of insecurity in the population and those feelings would favour a vote for the Liberals, students would be partly responsible for the re-election of the government of Jean Charest.
Given this background, it’s necessary to make a few points.
How can people accuse striking students to be ushering in the re-election of the QLP (Québec Liberal Party) when in fact it’s been over six months that our fight is specifically against the Liberal Party? Do we have such short memories that we have forgotten all of this struggle, the entire social movement opposing the Liberal government? Have we already forgotten the refreshing springtime and fallen into a suffocating summer? Our objective has always been to denounce the entire QLP agenda: tuition fee hike, Plan Nord, shale gas, corruption, collusion and so on. Our new slogan is “Out with the Neoliberals”. It’s therefore painful to hear that the student strike could help the Liberal Party get re-elected after all the energy that went into criticizing that same party.
As well, the advice is to return to classes to avoid all incidents of violence that would be favourable to the Liberal campaign. But who started the violence? Who enacted law 12? Who failed to react in a just and intelligent manner to the conflict?
We are not the cause of this violence: the real violence is that of law 12, it is that of not honouring our strike votes taken in general assemblies. The real violence is that which does not recognize real democracy.
To actually play the game of the Liberals would to not continue the strike, instead caving to their strategy: to accept the scheduled return to classes at the end of August, to not contravene law 12 and especially to consider the election call as a signal to stop the movement — even though this election was consciously launched to coincide with the return to classes precisely to silence the movement.
To play the Liberals’ game would be to remain stuck in the status quo and to buy into the idea of a fixed public opinion, always looking for security and order. To play the Liberals’ game would be to silence our ideals in the name of a so-called strategic truce or end of the strike.
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.