The Student Strike

There’s been a lot of strange information floating around regarding the student strike in Montreal. I caught a clip of Judy Rebick, a feminist pundit from Toronto, saying that the mainstream media only became interested in the strike once violence was involved. The implication is that media types weren’t interested in pursuing the more subtle matter of the students’ goals, an implication that is typical of the misinformation that often arises out of a hotheaded, rather than reasoned, response to conflict.

This afternoon a friend posted an article by John Moore, where he asserts that it’s the 55s and over who have squandered the resources that should have gone to the students. His idea is that baby boomers have robbed the bank, so to speak, and now that it’s empty, the students have to pay for something the boomers got for free.  It’s again typical of the kind of over-simplified nonsense that this conflict seems to be breeding. Everyone’s got something to say, but so much of it is pure drivel. The worst thing, of course, is that some of our current Zeitgeist’s heroes and heroines are falling for it.

The fact is that populations expand and contract, a lot like the floor in my garage, which, unfortunately, has expanded and contracted enough over the years to cause my garage to separate from my house. I don’t like it; it’s going to cost me a bundle to fix it; but there it is. It’s a fact of life and the sooner I get over it, the better off my mental state, insofar as it’s affected by my garage, will be. Time to get out the check-book and bite the bullet, in other words.

Populations are like large organisms. They are always on the move, looking for resources to use or plunder, depending on what side of the political spectrum you’re on.

I’m tired of all the finger-pointing and I would like my lovely city to return to the state of grace it’s known for. Montreal is a beautiful place, multicultural, multilingual, and multi-multi–everything.  It’s vivid. It’s hot. It’s sexy. And, unfortunately, it’s also in a lot of trouble. Hotel bookings are down.  People are afraid to venture into the downtown area at night. Shopkeepers are having their windows broken on a regular basis. Many are going out of business.

The students won’t go away. Unions from other provinces are sending them funds. They aren’t listening even though they say they are. They aren’t sitting down at the bargaining table and they are doing things to keep the citizens here inconvenienced to an extravagant degree.


They are pouring onto busy thoroughfares, effectively shutting down major traffic arteries that are vital to the city. They aren’t informing the city of their plans, which means that emergency services, like ambulances and firetrucks, aren’t being given a chance to plan around the students’ actions. They are lobbing smoke bombs into the metro system—a system, it should be pointed out, that is probably not used by the people they want to influence.

They are wearing masks to hide their identities, even though a law was passed a few years ago making it mandatory for police officers working crowd control to wear identifying badges. That law was passed to level the playing field.  And now, with the citizens of Montreal having won that battle, these students, who are too young to remember it, are being bad sports and not playing fair. If the police have to identify themselves, I think it’s only fair that the protesters should too.

These are protesters who are disrupting classes full of other students who want to make up their lost semesters. These are protesters who are asking for votes by a show of hands—not a private ballot—and then following dissenters out of public halls and intimidating them into changing their votes or staying away so that the majority wins. These are protesters who are saying that the violence is being perpetrated by a unwelcome minority of perennial trouble-makers who aren’t students at all. If that’s the case, who was responsible for the intimidation during the voting process? Goons of that persuasion usually don’t go to those lengths to get their jollies, so who does that leave?

And in contrast to what Judy Rebick is asserting, dissenting students did make their views known and the mainstream media did pick it up. It’s just that people like Rebick, who stand in awe of the public display of “democracy in action,” are too intoxicated by the excitement to listen to the quieter voices, the voices saying “no.”

The students are acting like spoiled children and it’s no wonder that support for the Charest government is soaring while support for the students is waning.  A recent poll showed that fully 68% of the population in Montreal want the students to get over the tuition hike—which is modest by anyone’s standards—and stop pestering the city.

I recently heard a very rousing politician—known for her “We are the 99%” kind of politics—say that when we want change, we should demonstrate and then call for a referendum. That’s exactly what is not happening and it’s no surprise. The students would lose and they know it.


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