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The Progressive Economics Forum

Austerity can be fought !

Asked by an anglophone journalist what the Québec students struggle means for the ROC, this is what I had to say.

I’m was among a varied group of people who published a declaration tuesday, on May day, in support of the student movement. One of the main themes of our message was to link the conflict around tuition fees to the wider political economy context in Québec. Our argument being that the neoliberal paradigm which inspires much – if not almost all of the economic policy decisions taken in Québec is used and has nothing new or original to offer outside of austerity. We think that the broadness of the movement signals an end of a political economy cycle here in Québec were neoliberalism dominated. This hegemony is of course directly linked to the Charest liberals, but also to elements in the PQ and the new coalition called CAQ. We linked the environmental and labour struggles to the student struggle, which directly challenges this hegemony and calls for the redeployment of progressive alternatives. These links are made every night by the thousands of youth that gather to march in Montreal’s streets. Six of us wrote the original declaration, and then more than 200 well known personalities signed. The wind is blowing once again in Québec !
During the ensuing press conference, we were asked a question in english which I answered here, the whole press conference is available here.

One element that is new is the determination of the movement to continue on and on, even though day in day out columnists, editorialists and the media in general are supporting Charest’s position, publishing their supporters Op ed pieces calling for law and order, repression and painting the students as dangerous and violent terrorists. And this bullying is not working, the movement is evermore determined, and public opinion is less and less supportive of the government. This weekend will be a big test. The liberals are holding a strategic congress, which they have moved from Montreal to Victoriaville, a mid size town outside of the Monteal – Québec corridor. Hundred of buses have been reserved.

The pundits (like Margerat Wente’s ridiculous column this week, so Marie Antoinette….) have been predicting the implosion of the movement since March… they are so disconnected. The don’t understand the movement, nor the political culture that underpins it.

We are seeing a political rift in Québec society between those mobilized for change and a chummy and tired elite that is clinging to a model that people don’t believe in anymore. The students, some workers in the manufacturing sector, members of the northern communities, all are now mobilized against this government.


Enjoy and share:


Comment from Francis Fuller
Time: May 3, 2012, 2:56 pm

Thank you for this. I am trying to determine how to support the Red Square initiative and help migrate it to Ontario. Any ideas? Also any comment on why the NDP is nowhere to be seen or heard?
PS – On cursory review it appears subject of the Andrew Jackson post here > From Financial Crisis to Stagnation
addresses a similar set of issues.

Comment from Travis Fast
Time: May 3, 2012, 4:01 pm

Eric, I live in a little village south east of QC. It is a very conservative ageing community. They would vote Duplessis were he still alive. I get asked at least once a day what I think about the strike. For some reason they think that a prof would be against the strike. Anyway, when they find out that I am for the strike they ask why. To which I respond following in the footsteps of English Canada is very dumb idea. I explain to them that education is expensive and at least in Quebec tuition does not make it all that much more so. Then they ask me why they should pay for those students. To which I respond why should I pay for your health care and you public pharma? My family is young. Why should the people in the city subsidise our municipality? Then they ask me what I think about broken windows. To which I respond that it is very crude yet efficient job creation scheme.

C’est pas ma place a dire mais, il me semble que il y’a trop grand nombre de mange merde québécois.

We have so much work to do. Ok I have to put on my carre rouge and go down to the Boni Choix to get some beer.

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