The last months have been intense in Quebec, but the news is, wait till to August. The "Maple Spring" is likely to become a hot autumn.
On the side of the elites, there is sense that only a big offensive can turn the tide. And it's not only about the students. Their problem is governance. A critical mass of citizens are now convinced that the "system" is not workable. It's more than Charest and his bunch of cronies. It's more than the usual crooks that manipulate financial institutions. And even more than cowboy capitalists like Air Canada or Alcan. It's the system with a capital S and maybe with a capital C (capitalism). But the elites have several tools at hand to work with to save themselves. First, there is the usual mix of coercion, fear, repression, profiling. Tactically speaking, it means dividing the urban core (Metro Montreal) from the hinterland (small and medium cities), presenting the urban multitude as a spoiled brat, versus the "hard working" hinterlanders. Second, there is the divide-and-rule approach, aimed at isolating the student movements from the others (mostly trade unions), using the complacent TU leadership. And third, manipulating the anti-democratic political system to get re-elected, which is possible with even less than 30% of support from the electorate. This spin is thinkable with the trash-media now dominating the scene in Quebec, with the Quebecor media being predominant.
On the side of the people's movement, there are expectations and ambiguities. The battle of ideas has largely been won in the last months, and not on minor issues (it was not of course about tuition fees), but on the "core", the common good. A very wide young and creative leadership has emerged, linked with "older" generations (including the 2001-2005 group). They have and are still "building the movement" through mass interventions and more discrete moments of reflections and strategies, even in the middle of July. It's starting to creep into other movements, trade unions, feminist organizations and the eco movement, in particular. It's starting to penetrate Quebec Solidaire with a feeling of empowerment. At the same time, it's not naive, romantic, "soft". It's not tempted to go into desperado politics that are always a false exit. It's politically alive without any illusion about how the "system" can be changed.
Every year now since 2010, there is a special moment where all of this is discussed. It's facilitated by the Nouveaux Cahiers du socialisme (NCS), a intellectual-political journal and network operating a lively website , reflecting the diversity, the radicality and the creativity of the Quebec social movement, and as part of a new media space created by and for the rising multitude. In August then, the "popular university" in the tradition of Gramsci, Bourdieu and Mariategui will reconvened in downtown Montreal (UQAM) with over 50 sessions, 140 presentations and livery discussions to analyse, evaluate, debate the forthcoming battles and strategies. An important part of the leadership of the movements will attend, because largely, this brainstorming is for them. It's structured in way to drive debates and avoid formulas and self-congratulatory spins.
Everyone is of course welcome and in the wake of the recent meetings between Quebec and Canadian students, there is a growing interest to discuss Quebec-Canada politics, specially on how to build solidarity.