I’m not going to pretend I know what is really going on in Quebec. It’s clearly moving away from the original complaint about tuition to….something. But I feel completely confident in saying I’m not the only one. Certainly not the opinionators in the “Anglo” press (for example Andrew Coyne), who seem determined to willfully misconstrue events into a narrow lens. But I don’t think the protestors know either. Bill C-78 certainly has brought a broad swath of the populace out into the streets. But that was a spark for a deeper discontent, I believe. Amorphous though it is at this point, though.
A lot of the “advice” to students involves a variation of “if you want to change things, get politically active, join a political party, work within the system”, etc.
But the people giving this advice underestimate, perhaps even grossly underestimate, just how much many citizens have lost faith in that system, which is viewed as so thoroughly co-opted by narrow, wealthy interests that meaningful change is impossible.
It’s not just Quebec students, or #Occupiers. It’s the average person too. And it’s not just Canadians (not only were students out in force for much the same reasons in the UK, but they had actual riots were the central government lost control of a number of cities for a brief period).
The Andrew Coynes of this world – who on one hand write quite passionately about the current government’s contempt for Parliament – haven’t connected the dots and/or come to grips with the fact the entire system is fraying badly and is not, and has not for decades, serving the interests of the majority. And that Quebec demonstrations are a symptom of that loss of faith.
There needs to be meaningful reform. Or there will be revolutionary reform.