Current Affairs Politics

Turbulence In Québec A Sign Of Radical Political Change?

So, it seems that the governing (and as we would say over here, “unionist”) Liberal Party in Québec is set on throwing away its chances of re-election in the upcoming provincial elections expected later this year or in early 2013. From the National Post:

“Montreal police brought the hammer down on student demonstrators Tuesday night, enforcing a controversial law that brought tens of thousands into the streets in a protest earlier in the day that drew international support.

By the end of a cat-and-mouse operation that marked the fourth straight night of clashes, police spokesman Simon Delorme said that at least 100 people had been arrested and two police officers had been injured.

Four other people were taken to hospital but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Projectiles were thrown at police and gusts of pepper spray tinged the air as riot equipped police sent people scattering.

Skirmishes broke out in different sectors of the city, sending busloads of Montreal or provincial police to quell the disturbances. Police on horseback provided additional backup as did a hovering provincial police helicopter.

One of the tactics of the night-time marches has been to walk against the flow of traffic, which often gets honks of support but sometimes brings scowls.

Police declared the evening march — the 29th of its kind since the protest started 100 days ago — illegal when some projectiles flew through the air at them. And they invoked the controversial Bill 78 and a Montreal by-law that forbids masks during public protests.

Shortly before the evening demonstration commenced, supporters in central Montreal districts came out onto their balconies and in front of their homes to bang pots and pans in a seeming call-to-arms.

As well, the powerful Montreal transit union also gave protesters a boost when it called on its members to avoid driving police squads around on city buses during the crowd control operations. Montreal police have for several years used city buses as well as their cruisers to shuttle riot squad officers around to demonstration hotspots and as places to detain prisoners.

The night-time march snaked through several Montreal neighbourhoods after it kicked off from Parc Emilie-Gamelin, a spot where all the night marches begin and which is named for a beatified nun who gave comfort to condemned rebels in the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion.

The chanting march had not gone far before pyrotechnical devices were thrown and were followed near the downtown core by beer bottles. Police flooded Ste-Catherine Street, the city’s commercial core where chain stores sit side-by-side with upscale boutiques and told everyone to get off the streets or face arrest for participating in a riot.

The daytime march was considered to be one of the biggest protests held in the city and related events were held in New York, Paris, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.”

Altogether remarkable and an electoral gift to the nationalists of Parti Québécois (and other nationalist parties) given recent events not just in Québec but in Canada itself.

Watch this space.

(More here)

7 comments on “Turbulence In Québec A Sign Of Radical Political Change?

  1. I always find it discriminatory and even racist when a people is described as “peaceful” or “safe” (look at any tourist guidebooks to see these qualifications are still used today.) Every nation is rigorously similar to every other inasmuch as when push comes to shove, when civil liberties are lost or when dissent is ignored, people will take to the streets. You have to look at the causes that have created this situation and not the normal human reactions that have come about as a result.


    • Very true, Jean François. Action and counteraction. There is more to this than simply the student protests. Rather a growing unease in Québec at rightist tendencies in Canadian politics, from Tory to Liberal (the “Americanisation” of Canada?).


  2. Pierre Paradis

    Glad to see Irish people paying attention to what’s happening on this side of the Pond.

    However, The National Post is the worst possible news source when it comes to Quebec. If you are interested in the current social crisis, I suggest you read articles translated from French to English on this Tumblr:


  3. Sorry, why are they protesting. Also, remember history, street protests usually lead to a conservative back-lash and not to revolution. My guess is that these kind of riots/disturbances could benefit the Liberals more than the PQ or other left-wing/nationalist parties.

    People don’t like riots. They like peace and order.


    • A link, with thanks to Pierre, that might explain more.

      As others have pointed out, the traditionally centre-left Québec finds itself increasingly uncomfortable with the growing right-wing leanings of Canadian politics and its perceived “Americanisation”.

      People do not like riots, quiet true. But who will take the ultimate blame for them?


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