From Student Strike to People’s Struggle in Québec City

From picket lines, to defiance of injunctions, to mass demonstrations and confrontations, the students, supported by a growing number of citizens, teachers, unions and militant organizations, are causing the student strike to spread across society. This growth can be seen in Valleyfield, in Outaouais, in Montérégie, at Victoriaville —and in Québec City, the province’s “Capitale-nationale” […]

From picket lines, to defiance of injunctions, to mass demonstrations and confrontations, the students, supported by a growing number of citizens, teachers, unions and militant organizations, are causing the student strike to spread across society. This growth can be seen in Valleyfield, in Outaouais, in Montérégie, at Victoriaville —and in Québec City, the province’s “Capitale-nationale” and the seat of the bourgeois state’s power. Even if demos and actions occur mostly in Montréal, one can ask: what is it like to experience the student movement and social contestation so close to the State’s political apparatus?

If some marches succeeded in attracting people (like the April 29th call initiated by a single citizen that gathered around a 1,000 to walk from St-Roch Park, in a downtown district, toward Parliament Hill), what is happening for the past month in front of the National Assembly is quite singular.

Firstly, getting together right in front of the Parliament means standing up against the established capitalist order. No matter how many demonstrators (between 200 and 500, sometimes more depending on the route and neighborhoods visited), every evening for over a month now, a large and hard militant core is challenging the actual social structure. This is a form of popular education based on the practice of taking the streets where the starting point faces the physical symbol of bourgeois power. In fact, this popular practice can be considered as a new form of will power, the “power to gather.”

Secondly, this new “power” rising from the people opposed to the bourgeoisie inevitably encounters repression; it is a direct consequence of such a practice, and this is confirmed throughout the history of class struggle. So, if the negotiations of the past weeks were not enough to dampen the student protest, the “special law 78” and the deadlock announced on May 31st between Jean Charest’s Liberal government and the student leaders only intensified the movement in general and the devotion of demonstrators in particular.

The solidarity that is weaving people during meetings, marches, confrontations, arrests and collective appeals is the living experience of those who dare to push forward. Even if the movement is mainly a pacifist one in Québec City, what is surprising and welcomed is the protestors’ audacity. To illustrate this, for instance: last week, the demonstration defied a police blockade forbidding street passage. The crowd marched on, tramping police and continued on forth. Here is an example of what is scaring the Charests, Courchesnes and ministers of the world: in spite of repression, we dare to follow our own path!