Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quebec Student Protests are an Example of the Purest Form of Democracy

Warren Kinsella has already mentioned this over at his website but I thought I would throw in my two cents.

I have read several pundits and commentators over the last few days that have been quite critical of the student protests claiming that they are undermining our democracy.

Hell, Macleans even infers that the students have become the new "ruling class" in Quebec.  We could only wish there was some truth to that assertion.

It is no coincidence that the most critical pundits are those that are on the conservative side of the political spectrum.  In a previous post on this blog I mentioned that the balance of influence between corporations and individuals has been badly skewed in favour of corporations.  For conservatives they believe that is how it should be and any movement that might bring that balance of influence on to a more even keel is considered a threat. 

I would like to say that calling these demonstrations a threat to democracy is just a political tactic but my experience debating with conservatives indicates to me that a sizable number of them actually believe what the say.  They actually believe that ordinary citizens expressing their displeasure towards a government policy or just a government is somehow undemocratic.  Most of the time it is the organized fashion of the protests that they get hung up on.  Someone writing a letter to the editor or to their Member of Parliament is democratic but a group of people with the same goals organizing to push for the realization of those goals is not. 

As I have stated before I believe North America needs more examples of the type of democracy the students in Quebec have been engaged in.  Whether you agree with their demands or not they are demonstrating that ordinary citizens with a little organization and alot of committment can tip the balance of influence back towards ordinary citizens (at least for a little while) and remind the real ruling class on this continent that their grip on power is not as firm as they would like to believe. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Assault on EI Begins

Earlier in the week it was reported that the Conservative government is proposing changes to EI, which will make it more difficult for people to get EI and once they do get it make it more difficult to keep receiving benefits.  And in a particular case of nastiness they will make it really difficult for people who need EI more than once. 

Today, in both the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post we see stories about how EI is damaging Canda, particularly in the Maritimes and Quebec.


The government's proposed changes to EI and the defence of those changes by the two newspapers I mentioned is just typical of the conservative mindset.

For conservatives, people are not people, they are not even citizens.  They are just economic entities moving within the economy and they are to be handled in such a way as to make that economy as efficient as possible.  It would never occur to conservatives that those individuals who might not want to move from a high unemployment part of Canada to a lower unemployment part of Canada are people who have set down roots in their current communities.  They have family and friends, their families have their own roots and to throw that all away to move to another part of the country would be difficult, emotionally and logistically.  As well, many Canadians have bought into the conservative mantra that "jobs for life" no longer exist so they are hesitant to move because they may just have to do it all over again when the economic winds shift, as they always do. 

Conservatives also realize that people are also voters and they can vote against them if they pursue polices people do not want or agree with.  (The inconsiderate pricks, don't they know that conservatives and their corporate enablers have their best interests at heart.)  Again the conservative mindset is not to think of voters as people but they think of them as political entities to be manipulated, hence today's stories trashing EI.

Today was just the opening salvo of the assault on EI and I am certain we will see more of it in the coming weeks and month.  I will leave it up to others to discuss whether the Conservative government and their allies will succeed and whether they will suffer for it politically.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Quebec Student Strikes

One thing I have always admired about Quebecers is their lack of tolerance of their governments giving them what they perceive to be a bad deal.  It does not matter what group it is or the political stripe of the government that is committing the perceived wrong, they make it very difficult for any government to do so without consequences.

We are seeing that this mind set runs deep and it runs thoughtout the province, including in the youth.  I say good on them. 

On the merits of their case I cannot say that I blame the students for their actions.  They enjoy the lowest tuition rates in the country and they would like to keep it that way.  As well, they know that the proposed tuition hikes are only the beginning.  Once they start they will not stop.  They only need to look at all of the other provinces in Canada where governments have been raising tuitions for the last 20+ years.  The reason why they are doing so is the wet noodle reaction of student organizations to the proposed hikes.  The student organizations make all sorts of noise about "access to education being a right" but they never really took action to back up their words.

I daresay that this might not be a problem in Quebec.  The current proposal will be enacted because for the Charest government to back down now would be a political disaster but the events of the last four months will probably give future Quebec governments pause before proposing more tuition increases in the future.

Indeed, if the PQ Party has any political smarts left they should be planning on promising to roll back any tuition hikes in the coming election in an effort to take political advantage of a suddenly energized youth vote.

It is good to see that there is still one last jurisdiction on the continent where the people of that place are unwilling to let their government give them the shaft without putting up one hell of a fight.  Now if only the rest of the continent would follow their example.