Scenes from June 22 protest in Quebec
There were large rallies in Montreal and Quebec City June 22. Thousands of students and supporters demonstrated against proposed fee hikes, against Bill-78 and held the banners of social and political activism high.
The term "student protest" needs to be revised to some extent because these protests now involve people from all walks of life, as witnessed by the so-called "casserole protests" that occurred not just in Montreal, but in cities across Canada.
Photos from the June 22 protest:
The June 22 protests weren't as large as some of the massive turnouts in the past. There are a number of reasons for the change of pace. It's summer and some students are working, others have headed home or are simply taking a break.
The will and commitment of the protesters remains strong. Student leaders say protests will continue throughout the summer.
At a press conference, CLASSE interim spokesman, Hugo Bonin, said protesters would continue to send their message to the government.
"We think it's important to remind the Charest government the crisis is not over, and we'll continue to be in the streets, because we are still against the tuition hike and this is still our fight," he said.
In Quebec City, Eliane Laberge, president of the Quebec college federation, FECQ, said the mobilization will not stop and confirmed protests were planned for the summer months.
Attendance at protests has also been affected by the crackdown. Bill-78 and bylaw P-6 (the anti-masking law) have had a chilling effect, as have scenes of police brutality, kettling and mass arrests.
The crackdown by authorities has been discriminatory and targeted. At an earlier event a Le Devoir reporter was reportedly detained for the simple act of wearing the red square - characterized by the officer involved as "a revolutionary symbol." This is the same red square proudly worn by hundreds of students during the Quebec protests. The reporter wasn't just the target of some random cop who was out of order, the overreaction goes to the top. Quebec's culture minister Christine St Pierre is apparently easily spooked by patches of red textile. She said: "It means intimidation, violence and preventing students from studying. That's what it means to us and to the big, big majority of Quebecois."
More correctly it means being awake, being informed, and standing up for rights and justice - qualities many politicians understandably find intimidating. Instead of obsessing about a red square, Ms St Pierre should be more concerned about the assault on liberty and Charter rights in Quebec society. Police conduct in Quebec has made more than a few people question if such tactics could possibly being going down in our democracy.
On another level, the Quebec protests and solidarity protests elsewhere in Canada are in many ways the vanguard of broader resistance. There is deep discontent in this country with a federal leadership that is more about "Club Canada" for the corporate and connected than promoting broad based democracy. Many Canadians are troubled by the undermining of environmental protections, the ruthless exploitation of resources, the increasing militarization of police and an arrogant attempt by the feds to impose an ideological agenda.
For more on whats being going on at ground level in Quebec check out this article from rabble.ca
Toronto "pots and pans" solidarity with Quebec - beneath: