Proud of my town. Proud to see so many Montréalerais filling the streets, rising up against a government with politicians so morally bankrupt, we have to wonder: who cleans up their mess?
The students’ tuition issue is the tip of the iceberg. Bill 78 is not acceptable in a democratic society and it’s mobilizing those of us who are no longer students but want to make sure that our children and their children will never live under an authoritarian regime. It may seem outrageous to suggest, but as I type these words I’ll wager- we just got ripped off by our government. Again. Choose your poison: breach of trust, fraud, nepotism, palm-greasing, price gouging, profiteering, racketeering, and then some. Coupled with the cost of war and systematic rape of our environment, reality is a drag, and it’s easier to just stay home, bite the bullet and nurture our addictions, until one day- the alarm rings, we wake up, and resistance becomes impossible to resist. Ma belle ville, our time has come.
So, let’s (continue to) support our students, get them back in school and help them clean up our town and country. If we were all supported, encouraged and taught to make the world a better place, it would be.
*Big love to Arcade Fire on SNL and Xavier Dolan and his Laurence Anyways crew at Cannes for using their celebrity to support their hometown! xx
FAN THE FLAMES
10 Responses to Mont Real
Bravo Brenda ! J’étais là, dans ce joyeux bordel ! Et je tape sur ma casserole tous les soirs à 20h…. Geneviève L.
Merci, chére Gen! La musique pour mes oreilles…
I COULDN’T DISAGREE WITH YOU MORE! Yes, we have a lousy government and there is way too much corruption – and THAT is what the students and the rest of us should be railing against, not a ridiculously low increase in tuition fees which is long overdue. And let’s not get carried away by how bad it is here.Spend a week in Syria, or with your friend in Iran, and then come back and talk about totalitarian regimes and oppressed people. I came to Canada as a young bride almost 44 years ago.My impression then was, and I quote “This is a country looking for a problem”. Of course there are problems here – the health care system is in a shambles, we are taxed to the hilt (those of us who pay taxes), the education system is creating yet another generation of hamburger flippers, what with the highest HIGH SCHOOL drop-out rate in the Western world (and high school IS free, last I looked). This is a nanny state par excellence and we are raising generation after generation of people who expect to be taken care of from the womb to the tomb, with as little effort on their own part as they can get away with. Get real, people!! You are living in one of the most enlightened and free societies on this earth and you have more opportunities available to you than 99.99% of the rest of the people on this planet. If you want to make a change do something positive. Start by turning out to vote. Start by running your own student organizations democratically. Start by doing something for your own society beside marching in the streets and vandalizing private property. Go back to school and do something useful with your lives. Waving a red square and wearing a mask does not make you a revolutionary. It makes you a spoiled child having a temper tantrum. You have lost a lot of the support you had at the beginning with this behaviour. And if you love your city don’t force merchants to go out of business, don’t prevent people from getting to their jobs, don’t scare tourists away, and don’t hasten the financial ruin of this town. The people who live and work here are paying for more than 80% of your education. What are you doing for them???
No doubt there are problems here but trying to compare it to Syria or Iran…I mean, come on.
The students have been disciplined, focused, asking all the right questions, learning through the process of working and consulting with each other, making and learning from their mistakes, standing firm in the face of the most dismissive, patronizing and mean-spirited critique (if I had a dime for every time someone made the cheap shot of “spoiled brat”…) and learning about how to this tuition issue is connected to a general broken system that they (we) are inheriting from our dear old baby boomers. By the way, thanks a lot for all of YOUR hard work and for leaving us with such a mess to sort out. If we aren’t happy with this tattered system, we’re trying to do something about it. The protest has gone way beyond the tuition discourse and it’s about so much more. Don’t you see that?
This entitled, self righteous attitude of the boomers (as reflected in the majority of media coverage run by them and the vitriolic comments left in their wake) is really, really disappointing. I wish you all would grow up already.
When I hear about the general assemblies, the long hours, the emotional and physical demands of organizing, consulting, working together, and being vilified because they aren’t sitting obediently and quietly in their classrooms, I think of how profound this old adage is: don’t let school get in the way of your education.
Hey, thanks Brenda. Thanks for this post.
It is sad and discouraging to see the sense of entitlement the generations behind me have adopted and grown up with. Those of us from immigrant parents who came with little and struggled must be ashamed. This nanny state we live in became such by pandering to the masses to get votes and all political parties are at fault!
How about protesting about facist laws that prevent our young from receiving bilingual education regardless of their background so that they can compete in a global society.
How about parents teaching responsibility for actions and decisions as adults.
How about teaching fiscal responsibility to the young so that they understand that living on the backs of the 1/3 of Quebecers that pay taxes is wrong.
I am ashamed and disgusted.
Patience. The students are realizing their voices, pushing deeper into the issues. A social movement for change is rarely planned, it happens. Bill 78 is helping the process. The students are learning more about the system by protesting on the streets then they do in school. Sure the demos are interruptive, but they are temporary and a damn effective way to be heard. I’d rather be stuck in traffic for a protest then for our (corrupt) city road work any day. It was provocatrice of me to mention the threat of authoritarianism, but I like to nip totalitarian seeds in the bud.
Speaking of, during the fraudulent election in Iran ’09, I was at a demo in Ottawa. While streams of well-dressed, young Iranians walked into the Iranian Consulate to vote (to the boos of the crowd), I heard many complaints about the educated, young in Iran being too spoiled, materialistic, complacent. When the election sham was announced, these young people hit the streets, raised their voices, risked their lives, and inspired the world. Occupy!!
This is a beautiful blog post and video about the heart of the matter http://translatingtheprintempserable.tumblr.com/post/23754797322/an-open-letter-to-the-mainstream-english-media
I have never posted before but your blog and this topic is a great entry point for me. The student protests “burn my fire” too, but for the opposite reasons. I vigorously disagree with you, but as a defender of democracy in a free and democratic country/province, and as your friend, I defend your right to your opinion and the free expression of it.
“Our students” are not cleaning up our town. For all their visibility and organization (which is their great success) they are a very small minority. Most students, and their hard-working families, including us, are not at all supportive of their actions. In addition, the protesters encroach on the rights of their majority co-eds and the student body of next year who support the normal resumption of school.
These students, and the kinds of hangers-on who are thrilled by a “sexy” cause, or any cause for that matter, are whining about a most reasonable and phased-in tuition hike that would help prevent our highly-subsidized and excellent education system from becoming, not just uncompetitive, but bankrupt. The modest price hike is just enough to cover today’s projected cost-of-living increase, deferred for too many years now, without meeting the increasing prices of goods and services that our schools require.
Quebec universities, as the cheapest institutions in North America, are under-valued and under-funded. We are also one of the most highly-taxes societies. Are we supposed to suffer more taxation to permit our students to continue to benefit from exaggeratedly low tuition? Are you and your parents prepared to pay higher taxes? As taxpayers and parents of school-aged children, we are not. The majority of every dollar we earn goes to taxes. Obviously our tax dollars help fund important social programs, including public free medical care and almost totally subsidized university education – of which we are most proud. These are the legacies we pray will continue to be available to our children and their children. We cannot continue expecting the hard-working families of Quebec to fund the necessary tuition hikes. And we cannot continue to expect these social programs to continue as-is. But we can act wisely, as our government is doing, to try to save our social programs by adapting them to the current reality (very different from the expansive economic conditions of the 1970’s when these programs were created). If we save the system, we may continue to be able to create jobs, but to do, this we must also allow the engine – business – to thrive. In the complex local and world economies that we have, this too requires government stimulation.
Moreover, what is wrong with the students, the users of the education system, having more “skin on the table”? Why should we, as taxpayers, have to subsidize a “professional student,” for example, who pursues one degree after another to defer his/her entry into the job market? The users do not have acquired rights to be keep taking, and taking constantly from the givers to the system (the taxpayers). In fact, most of the protesters who pursue university education are not financially disadvantaged. They and their middle-class families can certainly afford this modest tuition hike. There is also a fantastic tax-deferral investment vehicle – subsidized by our Canadian and Quebec government (the RESP) – which offers one of the best returns in the investment market, to encourage families to save for their kids’ education.
In the context of this challenging strike, the Quebec government has offered student loan and bursary breaks for those who truly cannot afford the increased tuition. If the middle class student body (or their families) assumed their fair share of the tuition hikes, there would be more taxpayer money and university funding available for loans, bursaries, scholarships and grants for the truly financially underprivileged. So while our “corrupt” government is very willing to negotiate, and has offered various solutions, this has been turned down without any mature response. Chants of “no tuition hikes,” or worse, “free education,” do not qualify as such a response. Do we want a “free” system like France’s whose education standards have fallen into the toilet, or where the masses are accepted into free programs only to fail out later because there has to be a “cut” to prevent over-saturation in the market place? That is the inevitable result of a free education system. It cannot be maintained over the long term. Ours is heavily subsidized, making it affordable, and it too needs a big cash injection to remain viable and competitive.
As for the fixing of our government, to paraphrase Sasha Baron Cohen’s recent film, The Dictator: [Our] democracy is flawed, and maybe some of the politicians and bureaucrats in it are flawed (but here, much less so; with our many checks and balances), but I wouldn’t exchange it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve or vote out unethical or incompetent politicians, but I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. These student-protesters and their adult fellow-travelers, lack real-life experience to appreciate our many current educational benefits, and the financing challenges inherent in managing a subsidized educational system, as one component of a political and economic landscape. To date, they have not contributed anything valuable or even reasonable to the debate.
With love and respect,
Unfortunately we can’t afford all the benefits we’ve enjoyed in the past.
If Quebec were a country we’d be the in the top 5 most indebted regions on the planet just below Greece.
You are cautious with money. We need much more of that awareness as a society.
If we don’t stop spending we will go bankrupt and the losses to all of us will be disastrous.
This will happen in 10 years if we don’t change direction and the current students will be hit very hard as they try to develop their careers and start families.
It will be much, much worst they what they’re facing now.
Friends, Last night I hung out on my balcony with some of my activist peeps (Egyptian, Israeli, American, Canadian). At 8:00pm, we heard the bang and clang of pots and pans and the happy roar of a large crowd denouncing Charest. I say ‘happy’ because it was palpable and infectious and it is spreading throughout our fair city. The violence that so many point fingers at comes from a handful of people, not the peaceful and inspired majority. I cannot respond to all of your comments and am less interested in debating the issues then I am in encouraging the students to continue to overcome the cynicism that they have been steeped in since birth (a byproduct of corruption, greed, et al), to build community, make a positive impact, and feel the power of their own voices.