One year ago to the day, my colleague Jeanne Reynolds and I announced the start by the CLASSE of an unlimited general strike against the 75 per cent increase in tuition fees announced by the Charest government.
On February 14, 2012, there were barely 20,000 people who began to walk out. At that point we did not have the least idea that we were at the birth of what would become the greatest citizens' mobilization in the history of contemporary Quebec. Where are we now, one year later?
Students in Quebec made international headlines when they went on strike to stop a 75% tuition fee increase. In what became the longest student strike in Canadian history, Quebec students resisted police repression and a government-led attack on civil liberties. In the process, they inspired a solidarity movement across Quebec and Canada. In response to the social crisis provoked by the strike, Quebec premier Jean Charest called a snap election in August - and lost. On September 20, the incoming government cancelled the fee increase and scrapped Charest's anti-protest law - a total victory of the students' demands.
As many of you know, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the ex-spokesperson of CLASSE, was recently in town. Some of us had the opportunity of having a much more in depth conversation with him where we discussed, in some detail, the structure and strategy employed by CLASSE. There are some great lessons to be learned.
The greatest thing that we can learn from the Quebec student uprisings is that if we are able to mobilize en masse, if we are able to get thousands and thousands of people to coordinate activity, we can take down the government and bring about the changes that we all envision.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets here yesterday for the monthly protest march of Quebec's student movement. The movement has organized monster, monthly marches on the 22nd of each month since March of this year.
The march was an impressive display of militancy and determination just 12 days before a provincial election to take place on September 4. Some members of the radical CLASSE student association said that 100,000 people took part. A "professional counter" employed by the state broadcasting network Radio Canada gave a figure of 12,500. The broadcaster has routinely downplayed or not reported at all the size of past marches.
CLASSE held a rally that included performances by Quebec artists speaking out against tuition increase last week. The evening featured speeches on issues from democracy to feminism within the student movement and was highlighted by the final speech by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois on behalf of CLASSE after his resignation. The student association intends to motivate students for a huge demonstration on August 22nd. Classe remains unaffiliated from any political party, but intends to influence their power from the streets despite who is elected. Producer/Editor: Emily Campbell. Video: Chris Zacchia. Video originally produced for forgetthebox.