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.
The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) presents the Neil Reimer award for social justice to representatives of the Québec student movement.
The CEP Neil Reimer Award is given bi-annually to individuals or organizations in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the public good. CEP has awarded the student movement in Québec for their work in defeating the planned tuition fee increase in their province and their outstanding mobilizing efforts of the past year.
October always brings shorter days, falling leaves and the bite of frost. This year, frost in Alberta is also coming from politics, as B.C. Premier Christy Clark digs in her heels over the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline to take bitumen from the oilsands to China.
In landlocked Alberta, oilsands operators are desperate to get their bitumen to the coast, any coast, to find the sweet spot of much higher international prices. Blocked by U.S. President Barack Obama from getting to the Texas Gulf coast by a temporary hold on the Keystone XL pipeline, corporate hopes quickly shifted to oil pipelines to the B.C. coast.
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.