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.