quebec student protests
Is any of this relevant almost three years later? Yes, because mini-versions of the Quebec protests still play out on Canadian campuses. They may not be about tuition, and their ideological bent could be left or right. But too often when students organize around political causes they take on the same unsavory tones that reject dissent and make straw men of opposing arguments.
As citizens of the "free world" -- North Americans, at least -- we have a great power bestowed upon us: the right to vote. Yet this basic right is often taken for granted. Understandably, enacting one's support for politicians can be frustrating, but fundamentally they are chosen by us to manage our tax dollars. And listen up: you pay taxes.
Despite the many upstanding, ethical police officers out there, the force has given the public numerous reasons to question its conduct. There have been a number of high profile cases of alleged police brutality in Canada and Quebec, including the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, the 2012 Quebec student protests, and the Robert Dziekanski taser incident.
Where politicians and pundits are right is that there is more political power in our generation than even we realize. Organizations, social movements and politicians lusting after "young voters" is actually making the problem worse. The narrowing of electoral participation as a direct translation to political action has led us to miss the forest for the trees, a forest that in Canada is probably being threatened to be clear cut, plowed for a pipeline, or removed to make way for a new mine -- and that's a big, big problem.
After the second protest in the last two weeks following a provincial summit on higher education, everything about Montreal's current spring weather seemed to have year-old Maple Spring undertones to it, including violence, arrests and injuries. The plight of student debt, post graduation underemployment, and rising housing costs are all unarguably quite legitimate burdens faced by my generation. Will free tuition as demanded by the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) and its followers solve these zeitgeist conundrums? Unlikely.
Just before the New Year, Samara asked for nominations for the Best Moment in Canadian Democracy in 2012. Despite the cynicism that we all feel from time to time, these five serve as important reminders that there are democratic mechanisms at our disposal, and that despite Canada's imperfections we are lucky to live here.