When The Masks Come Off (Journal de Montréal)

By: Josée Legault
Originally published on April 9, 2015
Original French text here: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/04/09/quand-les-masques-tombent

PHOTO LE JOURNAL DE QUÉBEC, SIMON CLARK

The images were spectacular. Massive property damages. Masked students running rampant. A pavilion ransacked. Riot police called in for reinforcement by UQAM’s administration. The perfect recipe for creating a stir.

If it’s true that violence cannot be tolerated, it is also true that the anger bubbling up within this large university is no accident. It can be partially explained by the breach of trust evident between administrators and a growing portion of the university community.

And yet, this anger is also the product of the government itself radicalising in the face of any open questioning of its austerity politics. By rejecting any real social dialogue, the government breeds discontent among those who haven’t the slightest chance of being heard.

Above all, the crisis at UQAM brutally reflects the authoritarian climate that winds up killing public debate.

At a time when unbridled anti-intellectualism and populism are mounting, this simplistic polarisation of society into “good” vs. “evil” is easier than ever.
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A Referendum on Austerity? (Le Journal de Montréal)

By Josée Legault
Originally published on January 6, 2015
See original French text here: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/01/06/un-referendum-sur-lausterite 

This past Tuesday, my colleague André Pratte at La Presse proposed to the Couillard government that they should hold a referendum on his “plan to redress public finances”. In effect, a referendum on austerity. 

This referendum, according to Mr. Pratte, would serve to “nip in the bud mobilisation” against austerity that has been announced my unions, among others. It is also a question, he adds with a hint of irony, to give back “voice to the silent majority, the Québécois who use pots and pans [casseroles] to cook with.”

It is evident that – and I say this with full respect for my colleague – a substantial portion of québécois elites never fully recovered from the student strike of the spring of 2012. This very same social movement of dissent that the prestigious British daily newspaper The Guardian had described as the most powerful symbol of the calling into question of neoliberalism in North America.

Which is where their worries about seeing Québécois “streets” inflate with protesters once again come from. Even though in democracies – including ours – the right to peaceful protest is a fundamental right.

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Welcome to 2015 – Year 2 of Austerity! (Le Journal de Montréal)

By Josée Legault
Originally published on: January 4, 2015
See original French version here: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/01/04/bienvenue-a-2015—lan-deux-de-lausterite 

You may have missed it while you were 1) busy scraping ice, or 2) recovering from the holidays, but in Québec, 2015 will greet us with a pile of fee hikes.

Fees that only add to, it goes without saying, those of the past few years, which are also inflated.

Welcome to 2015 – Year 2 of the Era of Austerity!

As was calculated here, for a family that is said to be middle class—a concept that is increasingly “flexible” depending on the government of the moment–, they will pay an extra $1300 in 2015 only.

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