By Henry McRandall
If the beleaguered but persistent supporters of the rapidly growing Occupy movement across the U.S. and Canada need a source of inspiration on some of their darkest days, they have no further to look than the predominantly French-speaking Canadian province/nation of Quebec.
For 105 consecutive days now, there have been daily mass protests in Montreal — and increasingly frequently in much smaller Quebec City as well.
And while the protests started out as simply a movement by Quebec university students to stop their provincial/national government from increasing tuition rates by 75 percent over the next five years, they have now evolved into something much, much greater.
The student leaders admitted as much when they told a press conference a couple of weeks ago: “This is no longer just about tuition rates. This is just the beginning of what will be a massive campaign to overhaul Quebec’s entire economic and social status quo.”
(The fact that Quebec students already have — and would still have — the lowest university and college tuition rates in North America, does not make the initial goal of their campaign any less noble. Across North America, even including Quebec, university and community college graduates are beginning their working lives with debtloads that will cripple them financially for years, even as they start their own families).
Last week, the Liberal Quebec government of extreme-right-wing Premier Jean Charest attempted to end the mass uprisings — as many as 250,000 or more people on the streets of Montreal on some days and nights — by ramming draconian and unconstitutional legislation — Bill 78 — through the Quebec National Assembly that would, among other things, impose fines of up to $125,000 for “protesting illegally.” (Editor’s note: How the hell can you possibly “protest illegally?” “Protest” is the ultimate expression of democracy).
But, true to their own convictions and Quebec’s Gallic culture, the Other 99 Percent of Quebecers have not been content to lie down and play dead, as would so many other Canadians and the vast majority of Americans.
While most Americans — and Canadians — seem to have lost the fervor for revolution that won this continent freedom from unrepresentative European rule, the French of Quebec, like the French of France, remember to this day what they were fighting for more than 200 years ago.
Although the American Revolution (1776-1783) and the French Revolution (1789-1799) grew out of similarly unacceptable political, economic and social status quos, the descendants of the revolutionary heroes on the two continents have travelled down very different paths in the past two centuries.
France, whose mass media has always included a powerful leftist contingent and which has had moderately genuine left-wing political parties, has tended to oscillate back-and-forth between right-wing and left-wing governments, with the masses — the Other 99 Percent — the poor, the working class and even the middle class always willing to fight back when the power and privileges of the Top One Percent have imposed too great a burden on everyone else.
Amerikkka, where there has never been a significant left-wing element in the mass media and whose so-called “democracy” does not even allow for the existence of any kind of viable left-wing party (And, no, Virginia, the Democratic Party is certainly not a left-wing party and never has been), the masses have been brainwashed into loyalty and lulled into a mindless subservience to a corporate capitalist oligarchy that cares nothing whatsoever about the deaths and destruction it has wantonly wrought for the past two centuries — and especially the past 30 years.
Americans — and Canadians outside Quebec — need to reflect on the courage and conviction of the heroic protesters in Montreal and Quebec City — and quickly convert the stumbling Occupy movement into an all-out revolution — the only thing that will ever bring down the supremely evil edifice of corporate capitalism that is now destroying the global economy and threatening the very survival of humanklind.
Quebec a model for all North America
By Henry McRandall