Published on rabble.ca, interview by Stefan Christoff, June 6, 2012.
In Quebec City last night, Amir Khadir of Québec solidaire was arrested by police in the Petit Champlain neighbourhood along with many others joining a nightly casseroles protest in solidarity with the Quebec student strike and against Law 78 … //
… At a few nightly protests when the rain fell hard on people gathered to demand social justice in the face of police violence, I have often seen Khadir joining the protests, walking with his bicycle along with everyone else taking to the streets … //
… SC: Can you reflect on how the current Quebec student strike speaks to larger questions on austerity economics being imposed in Quebec and across Canada?
- AK: The student strike is strong as it is because of a wide support from popular groups, unions, environmental groups as well as artists.
- These forces are backing the movement because it crystallizes the essence of a wide range of their own demands: Alliance sociale (CSN, FTQ, CSQ, FEUQ, FECQ) and la Coalition opposée à la tarification et la privatisation des services, both regroup hundreds of thousands of members united against the Liberal Bachand austerity budget.
- These actors are asking the government to make budgetary and political choices that are contrary to the framework of politics of austerity.
- So it’s no surprise to see how a movement contesting one of the most symbolic measures of the austerity budget, the tuition fee hike, drags such a wide support from all sectors of society.
SC: As someone who has been involved in progressive causes in Quebec for decades can you address why the current student strike is inspiring?
- AK: The movement is where it is today because people have suddenly realized how much power they have when they are united.
- It is inspiring because of a particularly well prepared strike (in the making since 2010). It is inspiring because of the organizational practices of the CLASSE, which with the help of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) has forced the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) to remain in solidarity up to know, insuring by the same token the objective hegemony of the most radical component of the student movement while maintaining unity at the same time.
- The current strike is inspiring because of the particular creativity of different expressions on the street, from the printemps érable slogan, to nightly demonstrations and now the casseroles uprising.
- It’s inspiring also due to the spectacular ability and charm of its main spokespersons, that contrasts a great deal with the poor image and impotent discourse of the government ministers.
- It’s inspiring because it widely practices generosity and solidarity across the left political arena, for example the FEUQ’s Martine Desjardins’s supportive attitude toward the CLASSE. [There has been] coordination between the different student unions to hold massive protests on March 22 first and recently on May 22, despite wide differences in political perspective.
- In a way [the solidarity] in the Quebec student movement in 2012 [should inspire] a spirit of wider solidarity in Quebec society, meaning that the health of politics today in Quebec could become one of the most important victories of this movement.
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