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Simon Jodoin August 24, 2012
Original French text: http://voir.ca/chroniques/theologie-mediatique/2012/08/22/culture-politique/
What’s astonishing about this election campaign is that, while a few weeks ago Quebec was vibrating with colorful demands from students, artists and intellectuals from all over, education and culture seem to have been left by the wayside. We have moved from a state of effervescence and constant creation that everyone wanted to be part of, if only by playing their casserole, to total radio silence.
The various debates that the politicians are engaged are strictly financial. Who can knows up from down in this ocean of numbers where they balance our percentages and totals for us; emergency wait times, family doctors and other calculations whose presumptions and methods are unknown to us? Very few of us, in fact, can even understand or verify all this gobbledygook. The political commentators masquerading as analysts are just as lost and often make due with a few strategic general points, taking up the arguments put forward by one protagonist or another. It’s understandable. If each of the findings that we are surrounded by daily had to be explained in detail, the newswire would have to be suspended for days at a time…
The politicians addressing us know that full well. In some ways this is a flood of circular arguments and argumentum ad nauseam. We’re being drowned in findings and propositions that must be accepted as proven facts simply because of who made them.
Normand Baillargeon August 7, 2012
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/normand-baillargeon/2012/08/07/pensees-sur-la-possible-rentree/
As you may know, I am a professor at UQAM.
Students in my faculty, as in many other CEGEPS and universities, have been on strike for a very long time. They are now subject to a law forcing a return to class and forcing me, as their professor, to teach them. The law in question comes with very severe penalties for those who do not comply.
The situation is, I think, a first, and it is daunting and worrisome on many counts. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my thoughts and feelings on the subject.
For starters, I am outraged at the idea of being ordered to learn or teach. On top of all of the good reasons already invoked by other professors, I would add that education is an activity that presupposes a certain degree of consent, for those learning as for those teaching, and I fear the direction we are headed falls very short of that goal. It is hard to imagine teaching under these circumstances, and I completely understand my colleagues’ initiative concerning the “impossibility of teaching under Bill 78” (in French, also here, in English) and their invitation to protest at the Ministry of Education (Recreation and Sports: the name always irked me, but maybe it refers to the fact that teaching leaves little time for recreation and is hard work!).
Simon Jodoin July 20, 2012
Dear Mr. Rioux,
I learned today that, acting as mayor of Trois-Pistoles, you sought to intervene in the scheduling for Echofête, a festival featuring conferences and workshops in addition to shows. This year, a suggestion was made to talk about civil disobedience and to invite Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of CLASSE. According to you, this was a bad idea and one that jeopardized financial support for this event, which benefits from government assistance and is held on public land.
Obviously, there will be people who agree with you. They will say, freedom of expression is well and good, but there is always a limit. They will say, say what you want, but don’t use public funds to do it.
Blandine Parchemal July 7 2012
In the July 6 2012 issue of Le Devoir you can read an op-ed entitled “Student movement: the electoral challenge”. In addition to raising some important points regarding the risk of a PLQ electoral campaign bearing the themes of law and order and realizing itself on the backs of the students, it seems to me nevertheless that the verdict put forward regarding the student movement is profoundly unjust in relation to the totality of the work that it has accomplished among Quebecois society during the last few months.
The author starts his text in effect by speaking about “defeat in public opinion”, “big disappointment” and ends by declaring that this could be “the biggest defeat of the Quebec student movement” if the Liberal party is reelected. Of course, if the PLQ are reelected in the next election, we will have a very bitter taste in our mouths. Nevertheless, even if this situation has to be, I won’t necessarily speak of the defeat of the student movement but rather the defeat of Quebec society as it was, and this, because it’s the student movement has always strived for a popular challenge to the current government.’
As for the question of public opinion, listen to us say that we have never really known what they think and that it’s probably not one more survey that will allow us to know more. Also, above and beyond general public opinion on the movement, what interested me much more, is analyzing the evolution of the population’s participation in the movement. And yet, when I see the beauty of the casseroles movement for example, all these people who came out into the streets with us many nights in a row, these children, these grand parents, I can’t resign myself to speak of defeat and still less of disappointment. When I see the popularity of the large protests on the 22nd of each month, the flowering of neighborhood assemblies or simply the totality of these red squares worn proudly, I can’t speak of defeat either.
Véronique Robert June 28, 2012
It should come as a surprise to no one that police officers are accorded the power to detain and arrest people . These powers, however, are bounded by the criminal code and by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
These days, in the tumultuous times we are living in, anyone who complains of an arbitrary detention or arrest is confronted with article 31 of the Canadian criminal code.
Like magicians pulling a rabbit out of a hat, supporters of the forces of law and order believe that they have found irrefutable support for the behavior of police officers that seems at face value to be unjustified. (Unjustified, not unjustifiable – every case must be considered on its own.) I am referring in particular of the arrests made at Ile Ste-Helene during the weekend of the Grand Prix F1 and of the mass arrests made on the bus coming back from Victoriaville.
Marc-André Cyr June 21, 2012
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/marc-andre-cyr/2012/06/21/crier-plus-fort/
It’s a fierce cry of negation made heard by the students of Quebec. This big cry of anger is an attempt to make their peaceful march deviate from our society’s empty and circular times. It’s without a doubt for this reason that its logic slips between our fingers and, most often, remains misunderstood. The language of the revolt is not that of spectacle. It’s based on these categories that the revolt must be understood, and not on those that it criticizes.
At the beginning, then, one strident cry: “No!” (1)
The negativity of the cry is easier to grasp: against the tuition fee increase, the commodification of education, the injunctions, police brutality, media disinformation, bill 78, Liberal corruption, neo-liberalism, authoritarianism…
All that is good and rational, at least for those who make the effort to listen, but what do the students want? Are they capable of saying something other than “no” in repetition? What do they have to propose?
In other words: will someone finally tell us what these trouble makers bloody plan is?
Let’s try to answer, partially.
Pierre-Luc Gagnon June 19, 2012
I’ve decided to use this blog to launch a new concept: “Tombstone beer.” At its most basic, the idea is quite simple; I crack open a beer and write an editorial on some hot topic, on whatever it is that’s been bothering, tormenting, endlessly eating away at me. For this first installment of Tombstone beers, I’m committed to critically analyzing this touching advert starring Jean Charest and his halo of divine clarity. In order to truly savour the beauty of this exercise, let’s take things sip by sip:
“Being Premier of Québec isn’t a popularity contest.”
-Really? So why run ads to boost your popularity?
“It’s the least we can say, considering the turbulent times Québec is going through.”
-To hear him speak, you’d think he were in a plane while burping garlic through a ofcouple air pockets. Hello? Quebec isn’t experiencing turbulence, it’s a social crisis you initiated and that you are arbitrarily maintaining for your own electoral gains. It’s about time your private jet lands so that you can face reality.
“Being Premier means working for all Québécois.”
-Unless you mean the thousands of Québécois who are in the streets every night. And also the voters of Argenteuil, who sent you a clear message at the beginning by storming one of your strongholds.
Jérôme Lussier June 4, 2012
It has been clear for months but last week confirmed it: the student crisis is an ideological conflict. The tuition fee increase serves as a pretext. The profound war aims at the user-payer principle.
The realistic negotiation that should have happened months ago – on the terms of an unfreezing and an indexation – never happened. The student movement showed no opening to the principle. The government reduced and spread out the increase, but they backed down on the idea of an unfreezing.
As a result, the student conflict transformed into a political Vietnam: a proxy war between two ideological streams, of which the students are the principal victims even though they are only marginally concerned.
Now there is an impasse and everyone knows it. Neither the government and its allies, nor the student associations and their allies what to let go because they all believe that this is the political combat of the decade to come that is playing out in the streets and at the negotiation table.
Among other themes, the user-payer principle should be at the heart of the next Quebec electoral campaign. It will be the hour of glory for the Rapport Montmarquette, which proposed in 2008 that Quebec take a turn to user-fees to reduce the burden of the state and to attack the “culture of gratuities”.
Marc-André Cyr June 12, 2012
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/marc-andre-cyr/2012/06/12/vomir-la-belle-province/
« Fear of all shapes susceptible of setting off a transformative love. Blue fear – red fear – white fear : link of our chain »
– Refus Global, 1948
The Grand Prix and its orgy of mediocrity… sickening.
State control and police repression… sickening.
The media and political elite of Quebec… sickening.
Sickening, sickening, and sickening again… this is the feeling that our Belle Province ought to provoke these days.
We already knew that our elites are afraid of communists, anarchists, disorder, riots, strikes, protests, civil disobedience and rock throwers; we did not know that are also afraid (almost pathologically afraid) of red squares, of the sound of pots and pans, of smoke, of envelopes full of baking soda, of album covers. To wrap up his column denouncing Amir Khadir because he took part in a (supposedly) illegal demonstration, André Pratte offers this typically nuanced piece of analysis:
“When respect for the rule of law is no longer absolute, we have to trust the judgement of each individual to determine how far to take ‘resistance.’ To put it another way, we give up the absolute for the arbitrary. After baking soda, what will they put into envelopes next?” 
Mr. Pratte asks good questions.
Radicalization is something to be afraid of.
Marc-André Cyr June 4, 2012
In response to student protests, the Montreal Grand Prix decided to cancel its open house day. But since day one of the strike, the media elite agreed that “only the students” would suffer the consequences of their actions. Accordingly, many commentators used the term “boycott” rather than the fixed, and more accurate, term “strike.”
Things seem to have changed since…
To such an extent that all politicians, commentators and business people are rallying together to beg students to cease protesting. Jean Charest, Michelle Courchesne, Gérald Tremblay, columnists, commentators, journalists, TV and radio hosts and experts in all areas are unanimously calling for the defense of Montreal’s tourism industry.
Peace, they say, we want peace.
On their knees
You’ve no doubt heard the chorus of pleas that, as the La Journal de Montréal announced yesterday on its front page, has already begun…