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By Rémi Nadeau (Agence QMI) 13 June 2012
Original French text: http://tvanouvelles.ca/lcn/infos/national/archives/2012/06/20120613-210238.html
The Charest government has spent $866,000 to promote its position on tuition fees in a large-scale publicity campaign.
The Parti Québécois (PQ) has vigorously attacked the minister for Education, Michelle Courchesne, accusing her of having wasted taxpayers’ money in a partisan operation designed to boost her own interests.
“These advertisements are clearly Liberal electoral propaganda, paid for using public money, only months away from an election”, fulminated the PQ Member of the provincial assembly, Bertrand Saint-Arnaud.
by Vincent Marissal May 23, 2012
Was Rosa Parks a Delinquent?
This question may seem rude—but no more, if you want my opinion, than the statement by Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier that the term “civil disobedience” is a nice way of saying “vandalism.”
Let me clarify, before an irrepressible urge to write me in a rage assails you, that I make no parallel with the American Black Civil Rights movement on merits, but simply on form. Civil disobedience is a classic mechanism for fighting against power. This was the case for the young Alabaman seamstress who refused, in 1955, to sit in the back of the bus in the same way as it is the case for certain students who have decided to defy the Loi Spéciale (“special law”) 78.
I don’t encourage the students to do this (it would be stupid to worsen their financial situation with heavy fines), but I understand extremely well what their motives are. This law is exaggerated, abusive, poorly thought out, very likely unconstitutional and, apparently, difficult to enforce. In any case, yesterday, the SPVM preferred not to enforce it. The police showed great restraint in the application of the Loi Spéciale that the government concocted as a catastrophe in the name of security and social peace.
It is now 100 days that this has been going on. Hundreds of demonstrations; more than a thousand arrests; a small, aborted offer of settlement; a minister sacrificed; a hard-line law adopted in the crowd; and for what? Nothing. Impasse. Government in “threatening mode.” Police in “anti-riot mode.” Striking students in “demonstration mode.”
The government can take comfort by considering the different polls that show that a majority of Quebeckers are in agreement with the Loi Spéciale[translator’s note: some polls, such as the one published by TVA on May 22, show the opposite to be true], but this will not change the heart of the problem: three months on, the crisis hasn’t been resolved.
For three months, this government has had it all wrong. Despite its serious and confident tone of a government that will not back down, this government is outdated and inadequate.
From the beginning, it misjudged the extent of the movement, which most people in Quebec would quickly run out of steam. Then the government assumed the strike would end by Easter. After that, the Liberals attempted to demonize Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. In vain. They believed they could bring the conflict to its end with a trussed-up wacky agreement, and when none of that worked, they figured they could frighten the students with the Loi Spéciale.
Of course, the government isn’t entirely to blame. Student representatives have shown a holy intransigence at times, but in the end, in a democracy, it’s the government which must manage crises and assure the social peace. It arrived with the FTQ, in particular, which is far more intimidating than the students could ever be. [translator’s note: had difficulty with this sentence. If you have a correction from the original, please forward!]
A few days ago we learned that the FECQ and FEUQ offered to talk about tuition, but that ex-minister Beauchamp told them that the subject was non-negotiable.
This government was incapable of arriving at a negotiated solution. It is now incapable of forcing the end of the crisis with a Loi Matraque [translator’s note: this literally means “nightstick law” but does not really translate]. What does it have left in terms of credibility, and in terms of legitimacy?
The minister of Education, Michelle Courchesne, said yesterday that her cabinet had been trying since Thursday to get in touch with the student associations. Come on! Every student has a cell phone (and drinks sangria in Outremont!), it’s well known! And if the line’s busy, just send your formal invitation through the media—it wouldn’t be the first time.
At the point to which we’ve come, we must shut this whole crowd up in a church (to facilitate meditation) and not let them out until the white smoke of consensus is seen escaping the chimney.
On the other hand, perhaps it’s a little too late. We’re heading toward another 100 days of the strike, toward a definitively fucked semester, and a happy mess come September.
The principal problem in the government’s approach is that it is intransigent and antagonistic. You wear the red square? You must be the enemy of the government, the enemy of Quebec, and in favour of violence; you disobey? You must be a vandal! You don’t denounce violence? That’s therefore what you’re encouraging! You don’t accept the tuition hike? You’re opposed to university development!
There’s a problem of balance and of counterweight in this government’s approach to the crisis. It begins at the top of the hierarchy with Jean Charest, who apparently has forgotten that he is also the Minister of Youth. He has listened to his own party’s Youth Commission, which produced the sound recommendations in recent years, but in his eyes the student leaders have no legitimacy.
There’s a problem of counterweight, too, in education, which is now in the hands of the President of the Treasury Board, whose principal mandate is to reduce state spending.
As for Minister of Public Security, Robert Dutil, he is first and foremost the Minister of Police in this conflict.
The police should arrest and neutralize the rioters and hotheads, sure, but who is going to protect the collateral victims who have been generously beaten and pepper-sprayed, as we saw in videos this past weekend? Who will protect the clearly identified press photographer who was hit in the head by a brute in a uniform? Who will protest the restaurant owner or playwright unjustly abused, insulted, and arrested?
“Ethics,” Mr. Dutil said yesterday…
Go on, make me laugh…
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.