Saturday, May 5, 2012
"La Greve" Is Getting Grave
Eh, bien — it's time for us cats to weigh in on the student uprisings in Quebec.
The unrest has been going on for three months now, but since our media believe that anything happening beyond American borders is beneath notice, you probably haven't heard about it.
The provincial government, which is in the hands of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), is imposing a tuition rate hike on what we would call state schools and community colleges here in the U.S. The increase is around $1,600, spread out over either five years (the original plan) or seven years (the government's most recent proposal). The students will have none of it. They've been on strike — refusing to attend class — for the last 12 weeks, and have spent a good deal of their time engaging in manifestations in downtown Montreal.
Some of those demonstrations have turned violent, and some have even been naked (sorry, you'll have to click on the link and see for yourself). So the PLQ moved its party meeting scheduled for this weekend from Montreal to Victoriaville, east of the city. To no avail — the students followed them there, and more trouble ensued.
The province is, to say the least, consumed by this continuing kerfuffle. Montrealers are tired of the disruptions to their daily lives (cars overturned, windows smashed, traffic snarled). After early returns that favored the Liberals on the matter, everybody now is taking a beating in the polls. And in an echo of the Elian Gonzalez controversy that rattled Miami 12 years ago, discussions are getting dicey at work. For example, the SAQ (where Quebecers buy their wine) has banned employees from wearing red squares, the symbol of the student strike, on the job.
We cats believe that neither the students nor Quebec have behaved very well, which at first made us smug that Canadians are apparently just as capable as screwing up governing as Americans are. On the other hand, with our personal memories of Chicago in 1968, we would simply caution Premier Jean Charest: Be careful of "delivering a campaign-style speech while battles rage outside."
(PHOTO: Jacques Boissinot, La Presse)