What does the Québec student protest have to do with us?

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief  Ω

With the country’s (especially post-secondary students) eyes turned toward Québec and their pot-banging, riot-police-dodging masses, I found myself asking, “How will this affect the rest of us?”

“Are you kidding?” you might be saying. “They’re striking in protest of a tuition hike in Québec. That won’t affect me.”

Really?

What does it mean if they’re successful? What if they actually manage to keep their tuition fees (and other ancillary-type fees) as low as they have been for decades?

That means you have a justifiable reason to be super pissed off, is what that means.

Maybe you would be pissed off that you study hard and attend classes instead of throwing flaming bottles of things and damaging people’s property, causing some citizens of your community to not want to go out because they’re afraid and that you are being punished for that academic dedication by having seemingly endless increased expenses for your education.

Or maybe you would be pissed off that we live in a society in Canada where violence and being a public nuisance gets you what you want rather than it being punished, and you might decide to engage in some of it yourself. If you get enough of your friends to join in, it might work for you too, right?

But then you’ll think that you’ll probably just get arrested or beaten yourself, so you’ll stay in class and learn and be pissed off that you’re overpaying for your education, and that your student union spent another 30 grand on a concert no one went to see as they hold up “drop fees” signs for no one and pretend to be surprised when fees don’t go down while paying themselves hefty salaries (or honoraria) for doing nothing of substance.

It could be that you’re pissed off that the previous generation of students didn’t march in the streets and destroy people’s property, and get themselves beaten by police so that their fees (and subsequently yours) would be reasonable, rather than just being diligent students quietly mumbling about the ever-increasing cost of doing so.

We’ve already established that you probably won’t, so others should have, right?

You could be pissed off that dissent worked to change their world, and you’re stuck paying WAY more for your education than they are.

I’d hope that would piss you off.

But what does it mean if those Québec protests are unsuccessful? What if enough of them get thrown in jail, or fined or beaten by the police that the rest decide it’s not worth it and go back to class instead?

That means you have a justifiable reason to be super pissed off, is what that means.

Maybe you would be pissed off because those students want what you want (affordable education, their government to listen to their pleas, etc.), and their government said, “No, actually, you’ll do what we tell you,” and despite all their efforts, including trying to light their own damn province on fire, the government won.

Or maybe you would be pissed off that it suddenly seems that you live in a dictatorship, and you didn’t realize that until the will of the people was literally quashed before you, even though you probably should have seen it coming when your national government decided to kill a bunch of environmental protections you liked having, stopped listening to scientists and spent more money than probably actually exists in physical form in the country on some jets — because about 20 per cent of Canada said that they could run the joint.

You might be pissed off that their attempt to come together in solidarity and community was snuffed out by oppressive governance.

I’d hope that would piss you off.

So yes — the Québec protests affect you, or at least they should.

They should piss you off.

It just hasn’t been established why yet.

2 Comments

  1. Linda Jun. 20, 2012
  2. CJ Albinati Jun. 22, 2012