Friday, May 4, 2012

Quebec on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Let me preface this blog piece with an apology to those students, almost all on the Francophone side, who are going through Hell watching their school year go down in flames.

On Wednesday I made some injudicious generalizations, painting students on 'strike' as all taking basket weaving type courses, but such is not the case.

I was reminded of this by Eric Duhaime, who on television told the story of a francophone student, in utter despair because her school is closed and she is in danger of not finishing her year.
She was accepted to McGill medical school, one of the hardest programs in the country to crack a spot, a dream come true for ultra-high achievers. If she doesn't finish her school year, she will not be allowed to start this Fall and will lose a year. (You cannot start medical school mid-year)
I'm not even sure she'll be allowed in next year, the McGill program has a policy of only accepting students who finished their undergraduate work in the minimum of time. Don't bother applying if you've spent four years in cegep.
I hope they make an exception for her....

By the way, the class boycott is almost exclusively a Francophone affair, all the English cegeps and universities are open and classes are being taught. About 50% of the French cegep and university students are out, while less than 10% of the English.
Concordia has taken a hard line and told boycotters that they may not intimidate or block other students and that if they wish to boycott classes and exams, they will bear the personal consequences, as no measures will be undertaken to save their semester.

Of course, such is not the case on the French side where universities and cegeps have gone in the opposite direction of Concordia and McGill, offering a wimpy response in the face of the intimidation of boycotters.
Teachers in these schools are largely in favour of the strike and as long as they are being paid not to teach, everything is hunkydory.
One francophone 'philosophy' professor interviewed on television complained that it was outrageous that he was being forced to teach under pain of an injunction, because it is not a healthy atmosphere. Oh my....

Now the student leadership is bound and determined to refuse all offers from the government that do not include a tuition freeze. The government cannot back down or else lose all credibility.

It's a Mexican Standoff

The students leadership remains stubbornly anchored in Fantasyland. Yesterday CLASSE actually proposed that the money devoted to research work in universities be re-directed towards tuition as well as the imposition of additional taxes on banks to offset the revenue shortfall.
Now the student union is not only telling the government what to charge for tuition, but how to tax and spend as well.
While pumping out all manner of statistical drivel supporting their desire for a tuition freeze, they ignore this inconvenient truth;


  •  In 1960, Quebec student tuition fees paid for 20% of the actual cost of the education. In 1990 that figure fell to under 10%
  • According to  CLASSE itself, the parents of 65% of Quebec post-secondary students don't contribute a dime towards tuition fees.
In the meantime, Pauline Marois, whoring for votes, is throwing oil on the fire by promising students that she'll not only scrap the increase if elected, but refund students any money they 'overpaid.' Link{Fr}
In 2008, Madame Marois gave an interview to a student newspaper wherein she wholeheartedly supported a tuition increase, telling students that they needed to do their part.
The about-face is a sad commentary on the politics of expediency.
And so the situation is spiraling dangerously out of control.
Students who have mocked the government and the police for over two months are now defying court injunctions.
Once the rule of law is supplanted by mob violence, it is time for society to take a stand.

People are very nervous about things degenerating further and with good reason.
Students are becoming bolder and bolder without a firm response now from authorities, things can turn very, very ugly.

If the boycott is not ended now, Quebec will become a dangerous and violent place very soon.

I am reminded of Prime Minister Trudeau's implementation of the War Measures Act during the October Crisis. Most people have a negative recollection of the affair and Trudeau is roundly condemned for his actions.
What people never consider is what could have been without the decisive action.
At the time separatist/socialist leaders were moving towards nothing less than a seditious insurrection. Support for the FLQ was low, but like the student movement of today, a minority can do a lot when they decide that the law is of no consequence.

So what is to be done?
It is time for the government to take control of the situation and dictate instead of being dictated to.
It's time to call the radical's bluff.

It's time for the Premier to aver publicly there will be no more negotiations. 
The Premier should call a news conference and give those students on strike an ultimatum.
He should give them one week to hold a vote in light of the government's position that there will be no more concessions and that schools will close if they vote to stay out.
During the next days, a television advertising campaign should urge students (horribly apathetic) to take part in the vote.
If the students vote to continue their boycott, those schools affected should be shut down immediately, the semester terminated and the students given incompletes for courses missed.
Teachers should be laid off without pay and if their contract precludes this, legislation should be passed making it so.
If the teachers don't like it, they can go on strike as well!

The Premier should also enact legislation making membership in student associations voluntary forthwith and insure that no educational institution will collect fees for these associations.

This will effectively emasculate the radical student movement once and for all.
Without mandatory membership, the associations will likely lose 80% of their members and without mandatory dues and forced collection of funds, the associations will collapse.

It will be a good lesson for Quebec's unionized movement and a warning of what might happen to them.

It's time to take a stand.

*****POSTSCRIPT******
Let's try something new, Readers....
You've read what I would do if Premier in relation to the student boycott.
But what would you do as Premier?........Let's hear your solution....

79 comments:

  1. What you're advocating would be political suicide. Despite people backing the government's stance, they also question its incapacity to conduct a fairly simple negotiation: had Charest made his offer 2 months ago it probably would have passed.

    Instead he opted for a hard line approach, dragged on the conflict for months and now the student leaders can't accept anything short of an obvious victory if they want the strikers to accept it. After 80 days of strike they'll expect results or have resigned themselves to lose their semester.

    Charest underestimated the students' response, now he looks like an idiot and calling in the army would permanently destroy the liberal name in the province. Assuming the Liberals still have a brand name, with all the corruption allegations that's not obvious.

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  2. I agree with you, Editor.

    If there's anything Quebecers like, it's a show of intestinal fortitude and leadership while the masses are collectively whining.

    My only regret is that what you're advocating wasn't done in week one of the strike, especially considering the bursary and income tax measures that had been proposed early on.

    But hey, if Charest manages to swing a majority and screw over Pauline's chances of unseating him, all's fair, I say.

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  3. While I am completely in agreement with the government's position, I regret their decision not to make a swift action earlier. Instead, they let the matter drags on week after week and the situation quickly spirals out of control.

    I would prefer that the government uses all the forces it has, get the reinforcement from the Federal government if necessary, putting the soldiers from The Black Watch, Canadian Grenadier Guards, Royal Montreal Regiment, among others, under provincial control. Then take a hard approach. All rioters encroaching public rights, committing destruction, contempting the courts are arrested and get the books thrown at them. Do not give them fine, put them in jail. And ensure that those arrested get a permanent record. See how they will like it when they need to have their background checked when looking for a job.

    Do not close the universities. Instead, put armed troops on the door to allow those who want to study to study. Pictures from 1950s and 1960s where U.S. Army soldiers guarding schools to let black students go to school suddenly comes to mind. Teachers and staff are not allowed not to teach. Those who refuse to teach without administrative reason (sickness, vacation, personal leave) will get disciplinary action. And there will be zero tolerance for those not finishing the semester. Do not finish the course, incomplete they will have. And of course that should be reflected on their transcripts.

    And above all, I do wish that the government has the guts to deal with those breaking or violating the laws. Where are we going if court orders are allowed to be defied with impunity?

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  4. your all soft..... it's time for the War Measures Act... Bring in the Tanks, rubber bullets & tear Gas... We are living under Mob rule right now and that calls for tough action no matter how unpleasant it maybe....

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    1. Tanks? The War Measures Act? What, are you channeling Trudeau? Buddy...that's a little harsh. Why not use real bullets and tactical nukes?

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    2. real bullets and nukes not necessary,,,,, but maybe water cannons .... Police unable or unwilling to enforce the laws

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    3. Taz: The WMA is the PM's call, and his call alone. Why should Harper stick his neck out for Quebec? Why should federal money be put out for Quebec without the premier asking for the reenforcement?

      I imagine if Premier John James Charest wants the help, he'll ask for it with a letter written on the Premier of Quebec official stationery, signed by the Premier of Quebec. If I was Harper, I'd have the who thing videotaped with Charest signing the letter on the videotape as proof it was Charest who initiated the request, not Harper.

      Trudeau was smart to have then Montreal Mayor Drapeau and then Quebec Premier Bourassa both courier such letters to him, but he would have been better off to have them sign their letters in front of a camera, but covertly from the public until after the military completed the task. That would be concrete evidence that Trudeau invoked the WMA upon request. As it was, Trudeau did have the letters, but it still stuck on him. A videotape can be played repeatedly to embellish the fact it was a request and not on his own initiative alone.

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    4. Mr Sauga..

      I hear you... having said that Law and order needs to be re-established here in the Banana Republic of Kweebec.. I don't really care who does it, just as long as it get's done.. I for one as many other Joe taxpayer do not want to be held hostage by these students err Terrorists.. Enough with the kid gloves!!! let these people spend the night in a cell with Bubba.... they might learn something about "tossed Salads"

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    5. There is such a thing as a measured response.

      This is not the FLQ crisis. There are no bombs. No politicians have been kidnapped.

      The only thing that needs to happen is for Charest to tell the student that if they are not back to school on Monday, they will forfeit their classes. He can add if anyone blocks students from going to class, they will be be promptly rounded up by police, taken to police stations, and charged with a fine.

      For demonstrations, if the route is not divulged, then the protest is illegal and the police can tell people to disperse and if they don't, use water cannons at the most. Nobody will really feel sorry for someone getting soaked.

      I think that is what will bring a quick end to any violence.

      No need to go overboard.

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    6. Incidentally, there is no longer any War Measures Act. It was repealed in 1988 and replaced by the Emergencies Act.

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    7. Good to know. "The War Measures Act" definitely has a military feel to it. I don't know if the change in name is good or not. It's like when we now, in war, refer to somebody being "neutralized" instead of killed.

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    8. Considering it's Martial Law either way, euphemizing the word doesen't do much good.

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    9. The funny thing about the Martial Law is that every state in the world (even if it's a so called "democracy") either resorts to it or reserves the right to resort to it (under different euphemisms of course, like "maintaining public peace" or "order" for example), but every state is also hypocritical enough to criticize other states when they do it.

      Would an independent Quebec have a recourse to Martial Law and use an internal repression apparatus? All you septards can can bet your asses that it would.

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    10. "Incidentally, there is no longer any War Measures Act. It was repealed in 1988 and replaced by the Emergencies Act."

      The tendency is to use progressively softer sounding euphemisms, both at state and corporate levels.

      For example, in my company, when someone else's work is dumped on you making you miss your supper because you have to do overtime, you're said to be "helping out". Helping out is such a nice, easy going, and positively sounding term.

      And don't get me going on "streamlining" the processes, "optimizing" the output, "rolling out" new initiatives, or "external sourcing". The latter means your buddy is losing his job because in India they can do it for 20 cents an hour with no benefits.

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  5. The whole situation with the student strike is really quite ridiculous and makes no sense. The reality is that the students will continue to pay some of the lowest tuition rates in Canada after the increases. The Quebec provinical debt is hovering around 248 Billion according to the Montreal Economic Institute. The studens are only hurting themselves by losing and entire year of studies which will be wasted for a paltry some of money which represents the increase. On the violence and property damage I totally agree with the editor with regards to steps which should be taken. The students are violating the rights of others (students who wish to continue attending their classes), owners of damaged property (whether they be taxpayers or private individuals). This situation should be dealt with swiftly and soundly.

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  6. I heartily agree with the Editor's proposal -- but let's face it, the political class lacks the fortitude to take such decisive action. In the '80s Reagan dealt with the air traffic controllers and Thatcher stared down the unions; unfortunately our lot would rather join la Marois in whoring for votes while Quebec slides further into the mud. That's a doggone shame.

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    1. Soupdragon: "...the political class lacks the fortitude to take such decisive action." Yup, that's politics in Canada. How long did the First Nations people block the Mercier Bridge, block the roads around the Six Nations Reserve near Caledonia, ON (about a 20-minute drive from Hamilton) and the railway tracks near a reserve in Deseronto, ON.

      Julio Fantino, first Toronto's Chief of Police, than the Chief for the OPP and now a Conservative MP, told the First Nations people disrupting commerce in Deseronto to cease and desist their behaviour with 24 hours notice. Some challenged him, and they paid the price.

      Frankly, there is a ridiculously simple solution to all this, yet no politician since Reagan has the solution. When this sort of thing happens, if after a few days at most there is a standoff, give the perpetrators 24 hours to withdraw. If they don't, make it clear they will be forced off, and any costs incurred or damage caused in doing this will be docked from their government budget allocations. Watch what happens. If the perps don't comply, they'll suffer the consequences, physically and financially.

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  7. Editor,

    But what would you do as Premier?........Let's hear your solution....

    1. I would have meeting with the head of affected municipal government. Ask them to uphold the laws (including court orders) to the letter. Give them full provincial support in terms of law enforcement officers and funding for the operations.

    2. To augment point 1., I would contact the Federal government to have the available resources of RCMP and CF be put under provincial / municipal operational command. I would not need lethal measures, I would just need enough boots on the ground to break the riots and to apprehend the culprits.

    3. Those who got caught would get the books thrown at them. Get the prosecutors to seek for maximum sentence, with jail time if possible. Ensure that those who are convicted get permanent record.

    4. Convene university / CEGEP principals/rectors/presidents/headmasters. Make it clear that institutions need to keep open regardless what the students do. Also, institutions may not deviate from their academic calendars. Those who do not make the semester get incomplete. And that grade would go to the transcripts. As the semester is already deep underway, no course can be dropped.

    5. Related to point 4., admission for 2012 fall semester will be going as always. No special consideration given for those missing the semester. The only exception is those who can provide evidence that they were physically denied the opportunity to study.

    6. Related to points 4. and 5., LEOs and/or troops would be deployed to schools to a) uphold the laws, b) protect those who want to study, c) maintain the school's environment to be acceptable for study.

    7. As the student protest does not directly concern school staff, school staff (academic or administrative) are not allowed to be absent without administrative reason (leave, vacation, sickness). Evidence is required. As well, staff need to continue doing their job even if it means an empty class room.

    8. Get a PR campaign going. Discredit the faulty logic behind the students' rationale.

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    1. 8. Get a PR campaign going. Discredit the faulty logic behind the students' rationale

      Maybe a little math math for our "educated" students:

      They want to pay $2500 for 160 days eduction? $15 a day for university education? Sounds like our $7 a day daycare? They want to pay a university $7 a day more than it costs to babysit a child for a university education?

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    2. Well, when there are 800 of them in a class...

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  8. Et oui, on va amener l'armée et foutre tout le monde en prison pour une affaire de manifestations étudiantes... bien joué.

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    1. [sarcastique on] Et a la même fois, on pourrait mettre tout les separatistes en prison (entre 35-45% de la population) parce-qu'ils sont des traîtres. Harper veut remplire ses mega-prisons, non? [sacrastique off]

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    2. Excellent idea to jail separatists on the grounds of treason.

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  9. Editor: Re Trudeau and the War Measures Act: First of all, I never was a big fan of Trudeau and as far as I'm concerned, ONE Prime Minister Trudeau is enough!

    Finally, Trudeau's invokation of the WMA was at the request of then Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau and Premier Robert Bourassa. They had to provide him with written requests on their official letterhead. While Trudeau was an arrogant SOB, whose son takes after him, he wasn't stupid enough to be roped into what he did without proving it.

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  10. The World's press has picked up on this story and it's Quebec's students that come off very badly looking like a bunch of ignorant spoiled brats that know nothing of what's happening outside Quebec's borders. Charest is going to come out of this on top now that Marois has foolishly backed the Student's position. That piece of red cloth safety pinned to her will be her downfall. Mark my words.

    See Economist http://www.economist.com/node/21554254

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    1. LordD: The rebel rousers are LOVING this! WOW-wee! All this international attention Scott free! Frankly, I hope Marois's vote whoring works like a charm. It will prove the collective naïvté of Quebec society (again!), and Quebec will fall further into economic hell! Serves Quebec right!

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  11. I'm so sick and tired of hearing about this boycott. No matter where I go, where I look, it's in my face. I haven't had class since f*cking February now. I chose to attend UdeM in secondary education so I wouldn't lose a year, instead of waiting to go to McGill, and look where that judicious choice has landed me. At least the selfish pricks voted on boycotting everything EXCEPT for placement stages in high-schools, so I got to complete my stage. Now I get to look forward to more nothingness and keep watching my semester go down in flames. Thank you, my french counterparts. Your "democracy and fight for everyone's rights" has officially screwed me over.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. I think it's unpardonable that there are students out there preventing people from going to their classes. If they want to walkout of their classes, that's fine, but to make students who want to study lose their money, time, and semesters is unconscionable.

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    3. Just out of curiosity, Roger, do you see a difference between this and strikebreakers?

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    4. I see the analogy that you're making but you can't tell me you would feel good about being blocked from going to your class and losing your money and credits for that class. It's really a walkout and there are judgements that have been handed down to allow students of certain classes in certain universities to be allowed back to class. I think the students illegaly preventing other students to go to classes in these specific cases should be charged one by one and fined. I do admit that it is an interesting analogy, though.

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    5. "you can't tell me you would feel good about being blocked from going to your class and losing your money and credits for that class.

      I can't at all. As a student, I probably wouldn't have been in favor of a strike myself.

      On the other hand, I can see how some would think that since the union voted in favour of the strike (those against the strike should really have bothered showing and vote against it), and that students are parts of the union, then the decision to strike is binding to all students whether they are in favour or not. Certainly this is how it works with unions who do actual work, no?

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    6. "On the other hand, I can see how some would think that since the union voted in favour of the strike (those against the strike should really have bothered showing and vote against it), and that students are parts of the union, then the decision to strike is binding to all students whether they are in favour or not."

      The problem is that I don't believe the voting by a showing of hands was done democratically. First of all, only about 10% of the students who went on strike voted and the vote was manually counted by supporters of the strike. Nice way to intimidate people who are against the "strike."

      If it was done by secret ballot, I might be able to better support the student's decision.

      As for strikes themselves, I think they are outdated, even for regular workers, because it doesn't have any effect anymore. Striking and trying to intimidate company management now just result in companies closing down. Then who is ahead of the game? The workers who acted in solidarity? I think not.

      CLASSE has not negotiated in good faith, continuing to ask for free tuition, even though Quebec is in a bad financial position. If we had no debt, maybe this is something that could be discussed but that is currently not the case.

      "Certainly this is how it works with unions who do actual work, no?"

      That's the point. Students don't produce anything. They are not workers. They are paying for a service which is already subsidized to the tune of 82%. At some point, they have to be realistic and stop blocking people from going to their classes.

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    7. Well I don't really disagree with you, on either count. Unfortunately, student assemblies tend to be met by the most resounding of "Mehs".

      I remember in my undergraduate days, the student council used to run through the faculty with pizza boxes screaming "Free Pizza! Free Pizza if you come to the AGM!" Then we'd all get crammed in that room, they counted us up until we met Quorum. We'd then barrel through the Agenda, all of us voting yes on things we didn't have the slightest clue about. All that so we could be done the AGM and move on to the free pizza afterwards.

      Any pretense of student democracy died that day. The student council of the various faculties themselves are probably elected by about 10% of the student population, when there is more than one candidate in the race in the first place.

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    8. Yannick, let me tell you about "how it works with unions who do actual work" and then you tell me if the students are really a union.

      Unions are actually a really fantastic invention. Capital has "Managers" to represent its interests while workers have "Unions". Both groups can come together and negotiate over any issues where there is disagreement. Both groups have an equal amount at stake in any negotiation. Bankruptcy is a convenient built-in mechanism that ensures that neither group can take too much advantage of the other. If the Union is given too much by Management, the company will end up at risk of going out of business, damaging not just the workers but the managers and the capital interests at play. If the Union walks out, they risk destroying the business and hence their own employment. It's pretty fair because the ultimate interests of both groups are aligned. It is in both of their interests at the end of the day to come to an intelligent compromise.

      Of course, public sector unions are a different beast altogether because bankruptcy is not there to force both sides to play nice and make the necessary sacrifices for the common good.

      Similarly, with the student unions, there is no compelling reason like bankruptcy to force either side to make concessions. It sort of makes a mockery of the idea of a union that this is how the students have decided to brand themselves. They get to strike like working people but without any risk for themselves. This is why I think the government has to give the students an ultimatum just as the Editor has suggested. If you wanted to make it like a "real" union situation, the threat would be that the schools in question would be closed completely and for an indefinite amount of time. It's the only way to ensure that everyone has some skin in the game.

      I hope that I've done a semi-decent job of articulating myself here and convincing you that these students are merely "playing" at unionism. If this were a real strike in the real world, the company would have gone bankrupt long ago and there would be nothing to go "on strike" from.

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    9. You have. I would also add that the students don't really have any pressure on the universities. The universities get paid up front, if the students fail they will need to pay for an extra semester. They can afford to wait forever! That is very different from a real business where if the work isn't done, the business loses money and reputation.

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    10. Yannick,

      One more thing to differentiate labor and student unions is Collective Bargaining Agreement. When an employee is hired and his position is a unionized position, his employment agreement / contract is made based on the CBA. And from the day he starts working the employee knows that he is part of the union. His acceptance of the job offer also acts as his joining the union.

      Not so with students. Student federation can not be called a union as in the sense of labor relation. In this walkout, for example. What do the federations do to the welfare of the students? Labor unions pay the workers strike pay when they strike. As well, student federation can not represent a student in her academic matters.

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    11. Ah, I see I missed a comment by a dear old anonymous coward that the editor was kind enough to remove. To be honest with all of you, the vote at my faculty has been done by secret ballot, and it has been the elected leaders of the student council asking for it, I haven't even had to do it. Our student council has done a great job of separating their ideology from running a proper general assembly.

      Now, whether or not I believe that I need to uphold a vote to strike passed by a majority (yes, it has sadly been a majority) is another story. At first, I argued that this couldn't be strike, the students not being employees of a company protected by a union. Then, some clever "prof contre la hausse" came up with this definition from le Petit Rober 2012; "grève : arrêt volontaire et collectif d’une activité, par revendication ou protestation." The rhetoric changed, regardless of the fact that the core of the issue remained the same. I went into class when the court granted UdeM the injunction. It was myself, and a couple of other students, and the teacher judged that the conditions required to normally teach weren't met. I don't think he was pro/against strike (one of the few teachers to have a mind of his own), and so we chatted for a while before he called it a day.

      Sadly, and I've been saying this since the beginning of this mess, this conflict has a clear language and ideology divide. If I had gone to McGill instead of UdeM, I would have been done with my semester by now. Sadly that is not the case. Now, the very clever and very homogeneous french canadians over at UdeM (and I was called a racist for making this observation) decided that McGill doesn't count as a university because of their high level of out of province students who do not care for Quebec's future, or because anglo quebecers simply don't care about Quebec's needs, or it's "true people". And _I'm_ the racist.

      However, I could count myself lucky. I do have a good group of people that encourage debate, and respect each other, regardless of opinion. I am still friends with pretty much everyone if my faculty, even though it's very clear which side of this debate I'm on. Sadly, in other departments like primary education, they have gotten down to the point where they hate each other and there's a clear divide and people don't even look at each other; and these people will have to do another four years together. Reminds me of high school...

      Having said all of this, I just want to finish my semester. I'm sick and tired of seeing Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois' face everywhere, to the point I get an allergic reaction combined with a strange desire to go boxing or kick-boxing every time I see his face. It's the weirdest thing.

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    12. How could anyone choose to go to U of M instead of McGill?

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    13. Simply: waste a year or go to school in the meantime. Given the choice, wtf do I do?

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    14. Frank,

      Pleas don’t insult your brethren by calling those Québécois separatists students, French Canadians. They have renounce being French and they have renounce being Canadians.
      They are protesting only to boost the PQ and the CAQ who are the political wing of the FLQ.

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    15. "...the PQ and the CAQ who are the political wing of the FLQ."

      I hadn't thought of that but it seems to be an apt statement.

      How depressing it is to be a Quebecer these days given our political options. The Liberals are corrupt and tacitly support racist language laws; The PQ are corrupt and openly support the strengthening of already damaging racist language laws; The CAQ are an unknown quantity but I doubt that they would oppose neither the croneyism of the Liberals nor the pro-White-Franco-dominance of the PQ.

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    16. Apt? That's not the word that comes to mind. Paranoid, delusional, insane are terms that come to mind. You guys know the FLQ has been defunct for fourty years, right?

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    17. @Troy
      Sorry for the late reply. I was working all weekend and finally for a few minutes for myself. Well, let me put it to you this way: I didn't go to cegep right out of high school over 10 years ago. I got two degrees in auto mechanics and audio engineering, but decided to go back to school to work with teenagers. First I chose psycho-education (only offered at UdeM) then switched to my first love, education. While getting the required credits at UdeM to get in psycho-ed, I applied to McGill. However, UdeM got my transcript out too late (mid june), and education at McGill is highly competitive, so I didn't get in. I did get accepted at UdeM though, so I was faced with the choice: do I wait for the fall of 2012 to go back to school or do I start at UdeM and try to continue my second year at McGill? And here we are. There's no chance in hell I'm getting into McGill this fall...

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    18. Yannick, the FLQ and the whole racist-nationalist movement in Quebec is just like the Klan down in the Southern US. The Klan never dies. The Klan never goes away. It just hibernates and gets real quiet, until they are needed again.

      Maybe I am paranoid, but do you blame me. I'm an Anglo Quebecer. What do you suppose I have to be open and trusting about?

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    20. How long does there need to not be bombs or an actual FLQ organization before you stop seeing its shadow around every corner, though? I mean, the root causes behind the FLQ (nationalism, desire for independence) live on in other forms, but there are no terrorists hiding behind the dumpsters.

      The difference is the methods - while the FLQ wanted to achieve it through violence, the PQ are willing to follow the letter (one could argue about the spirit) of the democratic system to get there.

      What happens when you start talking about "the PQ and the CAQ (!!!) are the political wing of the FLQ", is it makes you sound like a conspiracy theorist, not unlike those people who think there is a secret zionist supremacy conspiracy.

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  12. @Yannick ""Free Pizza! Free Pizza if you come to the AGM!" BRAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAH this isLITERALLY what happened to get the first strike vote all the way back in February (feels so long ago.....)

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    1. What is it with free pizza and getting people to do things? Free pizza for a strike vote or for voting quickly at student councils? Free pizza if someone wants you to help them paint their walls? Free pizza if you help someone move? Really? Is free pizza that good?

      Maybe if Charest offers students free pizza, this strike will be over already! :D

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  13. mdblog: You've articulated yourself very well. I think everybody has overlooked the fact this whole to-do is now getting international press and this is going to motivate the stooges who have organized this thing to fight harder and maintain all this media attention. They're nobodies. They're narcissists who are part-time students majoring in drinking fountain and rebel rousing.

    Re Troy's 8-point plan as Premier above:

    In point 5, how does one provide evidence that they were physically denied the opportunity to study?

    In point 6, first of all what is a LEO? I know it as a zodiac sign and the name of the RBC Royal Bank lion, amonst probably hundreds, if not thousands of other lions. Secondly, as a federal taxpayer, I vehemently and adamantly object to bringing in the federally funded armed forces. I'm confident Duplessis's Goons, a.k.a. the SQ, have good experience in knocking in the heads of unionists going back to the 1950s, so we may revert 60-70 years yet in Quebec's ugly Duplessis Era! It seems Quebec is well headed in that direction!

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    1. So Quebec is heading back to the 60-70's Duplessis, and the ROC is under the thumb of Prime Asshole regressive Harper.... I used to like this country.

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    2. @ Frank

      I think some of the people on this blog are taking it a little bit too far with the army and stuff. I think that when someone breaks the law by throwing projectiles or blocking students from their classes, all the police has to do is round them up, take them to the police station and charge them with disturbing the peace or something of the nature. Just don't let them get away with violence and watch them. That's all that needs to be done.

      All these ideas of bringing in the army and banging heads is a little overdone. We're not in the middle of an insurrection. It's just some dummies breaking windows and pushing students that has to stopped.

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    3. RR, I sincerely wish they would all be rounded up so I could simply get back to class. I still don't like what Harper is doing to Canada, but that is a debate for another day.

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    4. Can I get a Hallelujah for Roger Rabbit? When I read this post and the commentaries this morning I thought everyone had gone insane. Calling the army to deal with protesting students, jeez.

      @Frank : I can sympathize with the feeling, but not with the statement.

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    5. Mississauga,

      Evidence of being blocked? If the school or the class are closed by being blocked, that is an evidence in itself, is it not?

      LEO = Law Enforcement Officer.

      Yannick and Roger Rabbit,

      Take a look at this picture and tell me that it is not effective for those students wanting to study.

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    6. Yes, except those students were fearing for their lives. Small difference, no?

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    7. Yannick,

      Do you have a better idea as to how to protect those who want to exercise their legal, court-protected rights?

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    8. What about the police? Isn't that their job?

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    9. Yannick,

      Indeed it is the police job. They are the most appropriate one to do so. However, my whole premise about mobilizing SQ, RCMP and CF is because the SPVM is stretched out very thin. The need to quell the riots, guard problem schools and do their day job.

      That is why I wrote that those forces be used under operational control of local law enforcement agencies. I did not mean that by using military forces we turn the city into a war zone. The military is to be used as reinforcement to the local police.

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    10. Frank: I didn't write reverting to the 60s and 70s--I wrote going back 60-70 years , i.e., back to the 1940s and 50s. Duplessis died in 1959.

      In any case, the mentality of the Montreal police goes back to before American Civil War with their attacks on the non-whites of Montreal North and elsewhere. That's the 1850s and before, not the 20th Century. Good to see Quebec hasn't entered the 2nd Millennium when the rest of the world is in the 2nd decade of the 3rd Millennium!

      Why should Harper do ANYTHING for Quebec? The voters didn't do him any favours! If you don't like Canada the way it is, either change it or leave. You have as many rights as I do and the next guy, so as Michael Jackson used to sing, start with the man in the mirror!

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    11. @Frank

      Hopefully Charest is finally getting down to business. I think that having the student unions, worker's unions, and school administration together at the table for negotiations this weekend is a last-ditch effort after which he will have to send students back to their classes, no matter how things work out at the table.

      @Troy

      All I really think needs to happens is for the SPVM to actually stop demonstrations right away if the route isn't given to them (illegal demonstration), and arrest the people who are throwing concrete, etc RIGHT AWAY and charge them.

      It's not by ramping things up by bringing in different forces that things will get calmed down. In fact, you will probably turn the population of Quebec against you.

      @ Mr. Sauga

      I was not aware that voters have to do Harper favours. I thought when you become Prime Minister, you're Prime Minister of ALL OF CANADA, not just the ridings that you've won.

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    12. Roger Rabbit,

      I agree with you completely. However, the reason given for SPVM being not available to break to blockade at cegep St-Laurent and Misonneuve was the lack of resources. Remember, my proposal of reinforcement simply means more boots on the ground.

      Mississauga,

      I agree with Roger. As long as the province is still part of the confederation, the Prime Minister can not refuse the request for reinforcement just because he does not like the province's politics.

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    13. Troy,

      If it's a matter of putting boots to the ground, I suppose adding the SQ for more police presence at demonstrations, wouldn't be that terrible. I don't think that adding the RCMP or Canadian Forces would be advisable because the media would amp up anti-government rhetoric.

      In my opinion, though, there will have to be a political solution. When Charest says that the negotiations are over and if you don't go back to school, you will lose the money you paid for your courses as well as failing your courses, then this whole thing will be over.

      The students can then go to Marois (referred to as Moimoi in some responses to articles in the JdeM) and try to defeat Charest in an election if they are not happy

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    14. @ Roger Rabbit:

      "I was not aware that voters have to do Harper favours. I thought when you become Prime Minister, you're Prime Minister of ALL OF CANADA, not just the ridings that you've won."

      Well, the Prime Minister of Quebec certainly isn't the Prime Minister of ALL OF QUEBEC. Jean Charest is acting against the interests of Anglophones and many Allophones here, even though THEY VOTED FOR HIM!

      It's even worse with the PQ, though most Anglophones and a large number of Allophones don't vote for them. The PQ is exclusively the party of lily-white, Roman Catholic, separatist Francophones and no one else.

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    15. @ Roger Rabbit :

      Qu'est-ce qu'il a fait, Harper, pour te donner cette impression?

      Selon lui, le Québec a eu sa chance dans la dernière election avec son fameux slogan notre région au pouvoir!. Si ce n'était pas une offre directe au Québec d'avoir sa partie de la tarte et du cabinet...

      Ce qui m'étonnes, c'est que ça n'a pas dérangé les Québec-bashers. Pourtant, ils chialent tout le temps que Chrétien, Mulroney et Trudeau achetaient le Québec...

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  14. We should do as the students... sort of.

    Based on the student example, it seems you can cause all kinds of trouble and disruption, but if a great many people do it, the governement can't jail all of them, so they get away with it.

    Us in the private sector, which means almost all anglophones, but also a great many francophones (like myself), don't have time to go out in the streets. But we can do something far more important.

    We can ask our employers to stop withdrawing taxes fromn our salaries for a couple of weeks.

    If enough people do it, the governement cannot act, as we've seen (also because they need us to work, they cannot freeze up the private sector that pays theirbills).

    This would send the message that in the end, it is our money and they should start managing it correctly. It will also send a clear message to students that we pay for the vast majority of their schooling.

    It might also become a useful tool for the anglohone community to start getting some respect for them. Then again, this latter may not happen. Never underestimate the power of racism.

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  15. Quebec is massively in debt because of mindsets like those of the students who ave the lowest tuition in Canada and are still expecting the taxpayer's to subsidize them even more.

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  16. Dear Readers,
    I am very proud to announce that this is the 20,000 comment.
    I have selfishly reserved the pleasure for myself
    Thanks to everyone for your participation!

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    1. Grats! I guess that makes me #19,998... as Maxwell Smart used to say, "missed it by that much!"

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    2. Congratulations! Great blog. Keep it up!

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  17. If the students do not go back to classes in one week then the government should cancel the semester

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  18. So it turns out that the charecterizations of Quebec as 'progressive' and sometimes radically so, are the flourishes of a propagandists brush somewhere, and the echoing voices of Plateau/Downtown yuppies still seeking an identity that might shade them in a more relevant light than the technicolour abandoned landscape of another decade. Progress in Quebec is a lateral movement, not a quest for improvement. Protest, here, is born from the concerns of a welfare populace in fear of losing its welfare status. Language protests have more to do with the unilingual, marginally qualified who wish to retain their place in line. The student body is just another reflection of a bankrupt society whose youth remain silent in the political storms that seem to be turning back the clock to bring us a future of fiefdoms and serfs. But suddenly, when cheap education for shoe-in positions upon graduation for the 'pure' race is threatened, the soulless protests hit the streets to fight for their 'special' rights to cheaper education than all Canadians, funded by these other Canadians who pay more for their own kids, and they'll soon be back again in the next election or referendum, telling all you donors to purity, how hard you suck and that they want to be free, as long as they keep the loonie and you keep feeding them - welfarian idealism, as tanked and as skanky as its predecessors.

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    1. Look here. A professor from UdeM tries to give justification for what the students are wanting. I personally think it is a hogwash in trying to compare with older generations.

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    2. Excellent analysis. Those of us living inside this bubble called Quebec with connections to the outside World are always amazed at the level of ignorance and naïveté continually on display by the masses. I remember about 5 years ago having to explaining the Cold War to a Québécois co-worker that had no clue what it was. Apparently the Champange Socialists that run this place believed that teaching World History has no place in The Pure People's school system. I also had a heated discussion with another Guy that was absolutely convinced that Quebec was the only Province that had free Medicare. The other Provinces had user pay private healthcare according to him. No wonder parents of immigrant kids what to send them to English schools.

      Read. Conrad Black: How the ROC bought off Quebec (google it) National Post Nov 26,2011

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  19. Thoughts on the weekend negotiations and offers? I hope the majority of students accept so the hardcores are left hanging and I don't lose my semester.

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