Occupy World: 10,000 March Against Anti-Protest Law*
By Alex Thompson
Up to 10,000 people attended a massive rally and march against Quebec’s emergency (close to martial law) bill 78 which was passed in 24 hours and severely limits the right to protest.
Critics throughout the world have claimed that the new rules infringe on civil rights and are a step towards martial law.
On Friday, May 18, the Québec legislature signed a special “emergency law” to “restore order” in the province following three months of student protests in a strike against the government’s proposed 80% increase in the cost of tuition. A legislative debate lasted all night and resulted in a vote of 68-48 in favour of the legislation.
The legislation has three main focal points:
(1) It “suspends” the school semester for schools majorly affected by the strike
(2) It establishes extremely high fines for anyone who attempts to picket or block access to schools, and
(3) It imposes massive restrictions on where and how people may demonstrate and protest in the streets.
On the 100th day of student protests, the 4th day of the recent mass protests on 22 May, 2012, there are echoes of the January 25th uprising in 2011, Egypt. With ordinary citizens from their balconies in Central Montreal pots and pans have been banged in defiance everyday at 8.00pm with smaller protests by Canadians in the front of Quebec’s government office in New York, U.S., Rockefeller Plaza, near Notre Dame Cathedral, France, with tens of 1,000s of all ages joining the protests in Montreal.
As Pluto discloses making its presence in the constellation of Capricorn at the dawn of the global economic crisis in January 2008, until March 2023, the Canadian protests stand to be vindicated as Justice France Charbonneau opened the long-awaited commission of inquiry into corruption and organized-crime that has infiltrated transport, health and education.
Once perceived as a tame country, where there were 99,000 victims of family abuse in 2010, passivity is a name that can be erased from a country that the international elite have been pulling into the securing of its economic status!
Discussions began at a local street level through the distribution of leaflets in 2010 when former Education Minister Michelle Courchesne informed the press of the intent to increase tuition fees – leafleting helped to spread awareness.
- April 1st 2011 40,000 students went on strike against rising fees in public services
- May 7th 2011 a national students meeting of 200 delegates representing 200, 000 students unanimously voted against the rising cost in tuition fees
- Sept 24th 2011 50 students occupied the offices of the new Education Minister Line Beauchamp
- Dec, 9th 2011 a petition of 30,000 signatures against rising tuition fees was delivered to the National Assembly.
One of the most constructive protests taking place currently, the protesting has grown to 400,000. Not only that, solidarity is expressed by non-participants by the wearing of a small red cloth indicating ‘squarely in the red,’ which have turned to rivers of red as protestors where red shirts on the 100th day of protest.
The new emergency Bill 78 effective 18 May 2012 states:
- Fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution or who participate in an illegal demonstration.
- Penalties climb to between $7,000 and $35,000 for protest leaders and to between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations.
- All fines DOUBLE for repeat offenders
- Public demonstrations involving more than 50 people have to be flagged to authorities eight hours in advance, include itinerary, duration and time at which they are being held. The police may alter any of these elements and non-compliance would render the protest illegal.
- Offering encouragement for someone to protest at a school, either tacitly or otherwise, is subject to punishment. The Minister of Education has said that this would include things like ‘tweeting’, ‘facebooking’, and has she has implied that wearing the student protest insignia (a red flag-pin) could also be subject to punishment.
- No demonstration can be held within 50 meters of any school campus
Amnesty International, states Bill 78 is unconstitutional and is in breach of Canada’s international But this only enraged people more with 600 arrests!
The growing popularity has demonstrated the power of saying “No more” as ordinary citizens, and members of the middle class join in as the protests spread to Toronto. The once labeled ‘radical’ student activist group CLASSE that hase been excluded from negotiations with its clear set of proposals. CLASSE argues that free education is a right, but it is a right that has become a commodity. CLASSE argues:
“Free education means that the full cost is contributed by the state. This policy therefore requires a major reinvestment in education from the state in question, who have often used tuition fee increases in order to reduce their participation This happened in Quebec between 1988 and 2002: while the share of funding from students increased from 5.4% to 9.5%, that of the state decreased from 87% to 71%. Currently, free education at all levels in Quebec would cost about $700 million – and other researchers estimate it would cost between 176 M$ and 405 M$ – money that the state can get by making some simple choices: ceasing to give 950 M$ tax cuts to the rich as happened in 2007 or using the budget allocated to universities to ensure the quality of education instead of funding research partnerships with private firms. Not only is this project economically feasible, but it is also socially equitable as it provides access to quality education to everyone regardless of living and income.
As strikes force universities to close early for the summer, the government has been oblidged to negotiate, and this time including CLASSE, but of course, Quebec broke off talks, becuase the government:
- Treats students as if they are members of boarding school who must be punished
- Were not prepared to repeal Bill 78
- Refused to consider the student proposal for a two-year moratorium on university fee increases, which could be financed by removing a tuition fee tax credit
This was despite the good will gestures of the students who postponed a hearing on the constitutionality of Bill 78, and negotiating with the budget of the government, which means that any settlement was not allowed to cost the government a penny.
Education Minister Michele Courchesne who walked out on the talks, stated that he could not accept a moratorium for political reasons, but what are those reasons!
Today when one says ‘politics’ one means self interest. In this case student loans is good business for banks, and the initial proposal for what has become an 80+% jump in tuition fees came from the Quebec elite, which was published in Montreal Gazette. That publication also stated:
“It is time that we react. We must reinstate order; the students have to return to class… This is a situation when, regardless of political allegiances, the population must support the state, which is ultimately responsible for public order, the safety of individuals and the integrity of our institutions.”
The letter was signed by:
- Lucien Bouchard, former Premier of Quebec
- Michel Audet, an economist and former Finance Minister in the first Charest government in Quebec
- Françoise Bertrand, President and chief executive officer of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (The Quebec Federation of Chambers of Commerce)
- Yves-Thomas Dorval, President of the Quebec Employers’ Council,
- Joseph Facal, former president of the Quebec Treasury Board, and was a cabinet minister in the Quebec government of Lucien Bouchard
- Pierre Fortin, a professor emeritus at the Université du Québec à Montréal
- Michel Gervais, the former rector of Université Laval
- Monique Jérôme-Forget, former finance minister of Quebec and former president of the Quebec Treasury Board, member of the Quebec Liberal Party between 1998 and 2009, was responsible for introducing public-private partnerships in Quebec’s infrastructure development (which saw enormous cooperation with the Mafia)
- Robert Lacroix, another co-signer, former rector of the Université de Montréal, a fellow at CIRANO, a Montreal-based think tank which is governed by a collection of university heads, business executives, and bankers, including representatives from Power Corporation (owned by the Desmarais family)
- Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, a prominent business organization in Montreal, of which the board of directors includes a number of corporate executives, mining company representatives, university board members, bankers and Hélène Desmarais, who married into the Desmarais family
- Claude Montmarquette, professor emeritus at the Université de Montréal, who is also a member of the elitist CIRANO think tank, which as a “research institution” (for elites) has recommended increasing Quebec’s tuition costs for several years
- Marcel Boyer, a Bell Canada Professor of industrial economics at the Université de Montréal, Vice-president and chief economist at the Montreal Economic Institute, is the C.D. Howe Scholar in Economic Policy at the C.D. Howe Institute, Member of the Board of the Agency for Public-Private Partnerships of Québec, and Visiting Senior Research Advisor for industrial economics at Industry Canada. At the Montreal Economic Institute, Boyer sits alongside notable elitists, bankers, and corporate executives, including Hélène Desmarais, who married into the Desmarais family (the most powerful family in Canada). At the C.D. Howe Institute, Boyer works for even more elitists, as the board of directors is made up of some of Canada’s top bankers, corporate executives, and again includes Hélène Desmarais.
The Desmarais family, who own Power Corporation and its many subsidiaries, as well as a number of foreign corporations in Europe and China, are Canada’s most powerful family.
The patriarch, Paul Desmarais Sr., has had extremely close ties to
- Every Canadian Prime Minister since Pierre Trudeau,
- All Quebec premiers (save two) in the past several decades, especially Premier Jean Charest
- The Rothschilds
- The Rockefellers
- Spanish royalty
- The Council on Foreign Relations
- the Trilateral Commission
- The Bilderberg Group
- Own ten French newspapers in Quebec
- Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave Desmarais the French Legion of Honour, Desmarais brought Jean Charest with him.
It’s all about the money!
“Free Education. Is it Possible” http://www.stopthehike.ca/tout-sur-la-hausse-des-frais/la-gratuite-scolaire-est-ce-possible/
Marshall, A.G. “10 Things You Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/23/10-things-you-should-know-about-the-quebec-student-movement/
“Thousands of Canadian Students Protest Fee Hike” http://rt.com/news/canada-student-arrests-protests-088/
Spain’s Out Too!
Most educational institutions are closed with teachers protesting with the students due to huge slash of the education budget!