Big Quebec pro-students pro-civil rights demonstration

This video says about itself:

Kinetic typography of an excellent speech by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesperson for CLASSE (Quebec student union).

By Keith Jones in Montreal, Quebec:

Quebec: Huge protest supports striking students, denounces Bill 78

23 May 2012

More than 100,000 people took to the streets of Montreal yesterday to mark the 100th day since the beginning of the Quebec student strike and to denounce the Quebec Liberal government’s Bill 78.

Adopted in less than 24 hours late last week, Bill 78 criminalizes the student strike by outlawing picket lines anywhere in the vicinity of the province’s universities and CEGEPs (pre-university and technical colleges) and by threatening teachers with criminal prosecution and massive fines if they make any accommodations to striking students or fail to perform all of their normal functions.

Bill 78 also places sweeping restrictions on the right to demonstrate anywhere—and over any issue—in Canada’s second most populous province. Any demonstration of more than 50 people is illegal unless demonstration organizers submit to police in writing more than eight hours in advance the route and duration of the protest and abide by any changes requested by the police. Demonstration organizers are also legally compelled to assist the authorities in ensuring that protesters do not transgress the police-prescribed protest route.

The same day the Liberals rammed Bill 78 through the National Assembly, Montreal’s municipal government, meeting in special session, adopted its own emergency bylaw compelling police authorization for demonstration-routes and making it illegal to wear any form of face covering—including face-paint, a nijab,

sic. Probably, a “hijab” (headscarf worn by many religious Muslim women) is meant

or a scarf—while participating in a demonstration.

Quebec’s corporate elite has strongly supported Bill 78, just as it has the government’s insistence that its plan to raise university tuitions by 82 percent over the next seven years is non-negotiable.

The huge turnout for Tuesday’s demonstration is testimony to the widespread support for the students and recognition that Bill 78 constitutes a sweeping attack on the democratic rights of all.

There were numerous hand-made placards denouncing Bill 78. One read, “Academic Freedom=Free Speech and Free Assembly”; another “Bill 78, May 68”; a third, “A government that uses repression is a government that is afraid. We won’t give up.”

While students comprised the majority of the protesters, there were also large numbers of workers, a significant contrast from the massive province-wide demonstration in support of the student strike held in Montreal on March 22. There were union delegations, including of teachers, and Montreal blue-collar and transit workers. But most of the workers did not appear to have come as part of an organized contingent. Some were recent university or CEGEP graduates, others retirees.

Midway through yesterday’s march, CLASSE (The Broader Coalition of the Association for Student-Union Solidarity)—the province-wide student association that initiated the current student strike—broke away from the police-approved march itinerary and led tens of thousands on an alternate course through downtown Montreal, briefly paralyzing rush-hour traffic. Police did not intervene.

The breakaway march was meant to exemplify CLASSE’s vow, announced Monday after a meeting of its leadership, that it will not submit to Bill 78. “We believe our fundamental rights should take precedence over respecting an unjust law,” announced CLASSE spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. “The Liberal government talks about intimidation since the beginning of the conflict. But with this law as it is, it is practicing intimidation.”

See also here.

Canada’s top trade unionist has condemned Labour Minister Lisa Raitt over her meddling in collective bargaining in a strike at Canadian Pacific Railways: here.

7 thoughts on “Big Quebec pro-students pro-civil rights demonstration

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