Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quebec Student Strike

Almost never do I blog about current events, but I'm having difficulty understanding why some, otherwise progressive, people I include amongst my friends are reacting so negatively to the Quebec student strike. As nearly anyone living in Canada and even casually exposed to the news is aware, the strike, now having gone on for several weeks, is immediately aimed at preventing a rise in the cost of tuition for Quebec universities. Demonstrations accompanying the strike have certainly inconvenienced many people and have been the occasion for some vandalism; vandalism which has not been directly linked with students themselves; even the police have observed that it has mainly been the work of disenfranchised street kids, who have clashed on an annual basis with the police, specifically around the issue of police brutality. Mired as they are in corruption, neither the provincial nor the municipal
governments are particularly well placed to counsel a path of more considerate, socially responsible actions.

Being inconvenienced, which is understandably objectionable, is not an adequate reason in itself to oppose the student strike. Any public manifestation either for the sake of political expression or as festival or celebration regularly results in inconvenience; inconvenience that is the price of living in dynamic, diverse, democratic society. Such inconvenience, however, when it continues over a period of time, feeds a negativity toward those demonstrating that, in turn, leads irritated folks to reach for other reasons to put an end to them; reasons that sound more compelling than being late for work. It is those other reasons for negatively viewing the student protests, rather than their association with violence or inconvenience, that are most often expressed by my erstwhile progressive friends in their conversations and Facebook postings. Interestingly, although said friends are usually quite independent in their opinions, in this circumstance, they repeat the same criticisms of the student movement trumpeted by nearly the entirety of the Canadian news media, even those usually sympathetic to progressive causes, such as the CBC.