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CLASSE

The Quebec left and student movement after the ‘Maple Spring’

Translation, introduction and notes by Richard Fidler

January 29, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The 2013 edition of the annual Socialist Register, a valuable publication, is devoted to “The Question of Strategy.” It contains 19 articles by more than 20 authors on the Occupy movement, new left parties and electoral strategy in Europe, the new progressive governments and movements in Latin America, and so on. Oddly, however, there is not a single article on the strategic lessons of the Quebec upsurge in 2012 and the massive student strike that shook the province for some six months, helping to bring down the Liberal government. A surprising omission, especially in view of the fact that two of the Register’s three editors are Canadians. There is not even a mention of the Quebec strike and its strategic lessons in the editors’ preface, dated August 2012, written following the strike and in the midst of the Quebec election campaign.

Quebec: Major victory for student mobilisations, environmental activists

For more analysis of Quebec politics, click HERE.

By Richard Fidler

September 21, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Their demonstrations have shaken Quebec in recent months, and on September 20 students and environmentalists won major victories.

At her first news conference as premier, Pauline Marois announced that her Parti Québécois government had cancelled the university tuition fees increase imposed by Jean Charest's defeated Liberal government, and would repeal the repressive provisions of Law 12 (formerly Bill 78) Charest had imposed in his efforts to smash the province’s massive student strike. Among other things, this will remove the restrictions on public demonstrations and the threat of decertification of student associations.

In addition, Marois has ordered the closing of Gentilly-2, Quebec’s only nuclear reactor, while promising funding to promote economic diversification to offset job losses resulting from the shutdown. And she will proceed with her promise to cancel a $58 million government loan to reopen the Jeffrey Mine, Quebec’s last asbestos mining operation.

Quebec’s election: an initial balance sheet

"Québec solidaire was the only party supporting free education from kindergarten to university. But leaders of this spring’s massive student strike either placed their hopes in a victory for the PQ, which promised to reverse Charest’s fees increase (while indexing future fee increases to the cost of living) or, in the case of the more militant wing of the movement, chose not to intervene in the election."

For more analysis of Quebec politics, click HERE.

By Richard Fidler

September 7, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The results of the September 4 general election in Quebec has produced mixed reactions among supporters of all the major parties. Québec solidaire, the left-wing pro-independence party, increased its share of the province-wide vote to 6.03% (263,233) from its 3.78% (122,618) in the 2008 election.

Quebec: 'Share Our Future' – the CLASSE manifesto; CLASSE rep explains struggle (video)

July 27, 2012 -- GreenLeftTV -- Guillaume Legault is a leading member of Quebec's CLASSE, a radical student organisation at the forefront of a months-long student strike against tuition fee hikes. Legault toured Australia and New Zealand in July-August 2012 as a guest of the socialist youth organisation Resistance. Above is Legault's address to the Resistance national conference, held in Adelaide.

[August 3, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following document is the manifesto of Quebec's militant student union, Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale (CLASSE). For more on the student struggle in Quebec, click HERE.]

Quebec student mobilisations: Debate opens on strategic perspectives

By Richard Fidler

June 7, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Despite massive mobilisations throughout Quebec in opposition to Law 78 and the Quebec provincial government of Premier Charest, the student struggle is once again at an impasse.

At the end of May, the government terminated the latest round of negotiations with the four college and university student associations without offering any concessions on the students’ key demands: for repeal of the tuition fee increases and repeal of its “bludgeon law” aimed at smashing student unionism in the province.

The student negotiators had bent over backwards to find some acceptable compromise. They agreed not to discuss Law 78 pending an agreement on the fees. They put aside the proposal of the CLASSE, the most militant student group,[1] that a tax on banks be substituted for the fee increase, proposing instead that the funds in question be found through increasing the existing education savings program. All to no avail.

Quebec student strike: hot summer of protest ahead; Interview with CLASSE leaders

"Pots and pans" protests -- casseroles -- have erupted in neighbourhoods across Quebec and are spreading in the rest of Canada.

For more analysis of the Quebec students' struggle, click HERE.

By Roger Annis

June 4, 2012 -- Rabble -- On Saturday, June 2, several tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Montreal in answer to the Quebec government breaking off negotiations two days earlier with the province's striking student movement.

According to the CLASSE student association (Coalition large de l'association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, Coalition of the Association for Student Union Solidarity), which called the march and is the largest of the four student groups that were involved in talks, the march began with 5000 or so people rallying at Parc Jeanne Mance and then swelled to 25,000 as it wound its way through city streets. A banner at the front of the march read, "This isn't a student strike, it's the awakening of society."

Quebec: Up to 400,000 defy anti-protest law; protests spread


For more analysis of the Quebec students' struggle, click HERE.

May 22, 2012 -- Real News Network -- Today marked one of the largest protests ever to be recorded in Quebec's history. We are joined with Jérémie Bédard-Wien, who is a student organiser and who was on the ground today in Montreal.

Jérémie, would you please describe for us what events have unfolded?

Quebec: Students mobilise against draconian law aimed at breaking four-month strike

For more coverage and analysis of the Quebec students' struggle, visit Life on the Left.

By Roger Annis, Montreal

May 19, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The strike of post-secondary students in Quebec has taken a dramatic turn with the May 18 approval by the provincial government of a special law to cancel the school year at strike-bound institutions and outlaw protest activity deemed disruptive of institutions not participating in the strike.

Details of Bill 78 were unveiled the day before and debated in a special, overnight session of Quebec’s National Assembly. They include a ban on demonstrations within 50 metres of a post-secondary institution and severe financial penalties on students or teachers and their organisations if they picket or otherwise protest in a manner declared “illegal”. Demonstrations of ten or more people must submit their intended route of march to police eight hours in advance.

Quebec students call for a social strike in solidarity with their struggle

April 28, 2012 -- The following is a statement issued recently by CLASSE. CLASSE is the largest of the student coalitions or federations leading the student strike movement that has spread across Quebec. It represents more than half of the 180,000 students now on strike. The statement was translated by Richard Fidler for the Life on the Left web site.

* * *

Toward a social strike: It’s a student strike, a people’s struggle

Hike in tuition fees is part of “the cultural revolution”

Massive student upsurge fuels major debates in Quebec society

 

DSC_0160 (2)

Photo by Marc Bonhomme.

By Richard Fidler

April 23, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission --  A crowd estimated at 250,000 people or more wound its way through Montréal April 22 in Quebec’s largest ever Earth Day march. They raised many demands: an end to tar sands and shale gas development, opposition to the Quebec government’s Plan Nord mining expansion, support for radical measures to protect ecosystems, and other causes. And many wore the red felt square symbolising support to the province’s students fighting the Liberal Party government’s 75 per cent increase in post-secondary education fees over the next five years. The Earth Day march was the largest mobilisation to date in a mounting wave of citizen protest throughout the province.

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