We will not let ourselves be ripped off (La Presse / ASSÉ)

The destruction of our public services and of the social state in Québec being orchestrated by the Liberal Party must stop.

By Camille Godbout, Spokesperson for ASSÉ
Originally published on March 20, 2015
See original French text here: http://plus.lapresse.ca/screens/5705cc8e-704e-44da-812f-224f230be70a%7C_0.html

As of this Saturday [March 21], when there will be a popular protest in the streets of Montréal, we will be more than 37 000 students on strike. Over the course of the coming weeks, there will be more than 110 000 members of students associations, in the four corners of the province, who will be consulted on the topic of this strike.

Often, we are asked why we, the students, are mobilizing ourselves against austerity measures. For us, the answer seems clear: the government is trying, through its repeated compressions, to place the entirety of our public services in permanent crisis. The final objective of this government is that we turn more towards the private sector and establish a “user-payer” model in Québec. In rendering our services non-functional due to inadequate financing, the solution of Mr. Couillard and his minsters will be to raise individual fees.

We refuse this logic which reduces us simply to consumers who will need to pay for each use of our health, education, daycare and all other services necessary for the good functioning of a rich society.

As soon as we note that the six biggest banks in Canada had profits of over 34 billion in 2014 and that, despite everything, they are taxed less and less, we know that we have the means to do things differently. It would suffice to go find the money there were it can really be found rather than systematically making the population poorer. For example, the return of a 1% tax on capital gains for financial institutions would bring in more than 600 million for the state.

The Liberal ministers are happy to say that the budgetary compressions will not have consequences, but we are already feeling their negative effects on campuses all across the province. Whether it is through the massive suppression of hundreds of courses, the complete disappearance of programs, an enormous reduction of services such as access to nursing care or psychological help, we can see clearly that the Liberal government has a destructive vision of education.

More than ever, we are ready to arouse a real public debate and social dialogue on the necessity of having high quality and accessible public services.

At a moment when employees in civil service are in negotiations for their collective agreements, it seems to us that all the conditions have come together to create a social movement that will go well beyond the student question and which will be able to create a momentum of solidarity between different actors in civil society.

As we saw well in the last decade, the Liberals are well known for creating social conflicts in Québec. It is again time for Mr. Couillard to take responsibility in  prioritizing, in the next budgets, fiscal measures that will not affect the middle class and the less fortunate.

Our fight will not be one of a springtime, but rather it inscribes itself in a much larger will to ensure that the government ceases to place profits above the living conditions of the population. The destruction of our public services and of Québec’s social state as led by the Liberal Party must stop.

The social benefits that the Liberal Party is in the process of axing were obtained through decades of struggle on the part of student, syndicalist, feminist, ecological and community movements. We have demonstrated this many times: our strength resides in our capacity for massive mobilization and it is in continuing to increase pressure on the government that we will make them retreat.

Facing the veritable contempt of the Liberal Party who persists in moving forward with its ideological project of dismantling our public services, it is necessary that we mobilize ourselves against this government, who is taking us decades backwards through its political decisions. We will not allow ourselves to be ripped off.

***

Translated from the original French by Language and Dissent, a collectively-run blog supporting the anti-austerity struggle in Quebec. These are amateur translations written by volunteers; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may have their flaws. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us via email (languageanddissent [at] gmail [dot] com). Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

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