As high school students, we are acutely aware of the direction that Quebec has been veering towards in the course of the past few years. We know it too well : it is the only project that the government has presented to us in our lifetime. We know that public services are increasingly neglected, we know that students and patients are now addressed as “clients”, that attaining zero deficit seems to be our sole priority; that, in spite of the terrifying data that continue to surface, protecting the environment that we are to live in is the last item on the list.
Photo: Hélène David, Minister of Culture & Communication, as well as Minister responsible for the protection and promotion of the French language / Credit: The Liberal Party of Québec
This morning, June 23 2015, on the eve of a national holiday, Hélène David, the Minister of Culture & Communications, announced a surprise cutback of 2.5 million dollars to the Conseil des arts et des lettres’ (CALQ) budget without specifying which programs would be affected.
The amount is considerable and could possibly affect even the Counseil’s core programs dedicated to awarding funding to various artistic organizations, but the Minister did not deny that the budgets of other crown corporations with a cultural mandate as well as direct funds from the Ministry of Culture & Communications could also be touched. The axe will likely also fall upon the funding of new initiatives under the digital culture plan. But the Minister has not given specifics about the bigger picture. The announcement comes as a surprise because it goes against the Minister’s official line since she took office in April 2014: she often stated that the CALQ was one of her priorities. Early June’s provincial budget did not include any modifications to the CALQ’s allocation, which reassured a cultural milieu worried for years now about the Conseil’s chronic under-funding. Continue reading →
A generation of spoiled brats, as the saying goes. A generation saddled with debt that will probably not have a pension, will retire at 74, have a 50-year mortgage, life-long precarious employment, a slowly privatising healthcare system and a environment ravaged by their parents’ heedlessness. Its offspring, if it dares to have any, will have only the schooling they can access, if the system hasn’t self-destructed under pressure. All-out cuts, endless hikes.
When this generation marches to denounce what’s going on, it gets pounded. “Stay home and study”, it is told. People applaud the police, who are trained to rough it up while the complicit media complacently demonises it. This generation is only questioned in order to be mocked. The very government doling out austerity awards itself retirement packages and excellent salaries while the very rats accused of collusion are free as a bird. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →