rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Forget universities. What are newspaper editorials for?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

What do you call 550 words, strung together through unconnected events from three different countries that span a half-decade, and that begin with the boring and derivative announcement "Here we go again"?

A teacher might call it a nice first draft of a Grade 11 English paper.

The National Post calls it an editorial.

In a screed that ranges from an anti-abortion presentation in England, arguments made in a random New York Times column and the ever-classic story of students rejecting Ann Coulter at the University of Ottawa, the National Post's editorial (collective? No, surely not. Too Bolshevik) board does its best to de-legitimize student action and protest on Canadian campuses.

Even the title: "What are universities for?" is hilarious. According to these guys, universities are for their beloved columnist Christie Blatchford to speak at, not for students to go on strike to protest government spending cuts. Students should be forced to face unpopular opinions; they have no right to take action against them. Blocking presentations, staring down riot police and holding events where students can relax, play with play-doh and look at puppies have no place on our campuses.

Even better, they call these actions cowardly. Ever stare down a riot cop who then knocks you to the ground with his baton, Chris Selly? Haha yeah right. I'm sure the National Post editorial club's members are too brave to do that.

This is overextension to the max. From referring to these responses as lunacy, to calling active students "Bolsheviks in short pants" (which doesn’t actually mean anything but perhaps gave the typist a shot of endorphins into his anti-Marxist brain as he wrote), the editorial cannot be taken seriously.

Campuses are hotbeds of classes. They're hotbeds of young people and older people looking to learn about stuff. And, as access has rapidly widened, new kinds of people are going to university.

Like women who, after hearing chants year after year about all the ways you can rape a woman, are saying: enough with this bullshit.

Like, racialized students who hold a discussion group where they can finally be free of the annoying subconscious or outwardly racist things their white classmates say, then get attacked by white students

It comes with the terrain: increase enrolment among women and racialized people, you're going to have people fight to undo the systemic elements of the system that has served to unfairly boost the odds of success for white men.

And I get it. That makes white dudes uncomfortable. May I suggest checking out "puppies" on YouTube?

Newspapers have been instrumental in suppressing the fact that power lies within social movements and they do this with overextended, contrived articles such as these. The National Post and its cranky older brother the Globe and Mail are more likely to report on the entitlement of the least entitled age segment of society than take protests seriously. Downplay numbers. Ignore. Highlight clashes with police. Highlight fringe opinions. Repeat.

This has a very important effect on popular discourse around social movements: protests are fringe events, meaningless and bothersome to a fantasy silent majority. It tells young people that their campaigns don’t matter; they have no power.

It's a neoliberal bowl-a-thon. The newspapers set up the pins; neoliberal governments knock them down, over and over.

As Québec students set the stage for what is likely to be a year of impressive protests, readers need to be careful to not buy such propaganda. Within minutes of the first protest in Montreal, police declared it illegal, a cover that allows cops to infringe on protesters’ rights, charge or detain protesters. Why wouldn’t the National Post respond to such an outrageous attack on free speech?

Far from apathetic, students are setting the stage for what will become a show of social movement force that is much more broad than just students. People will be arrested and charged. Civil liberties will be attacked. Free speech will be undermined.

Mainstream national newspapers aren’t likely to be defenders of anyone’s free speech or free expression in this struggle.

And from time to time, editorials like these remind average people on whose side they write.


Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.