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.

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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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Austerity in the Time of Abundance (Liberté)

Money, there is. But not for everyone.

By Julia Posca
Originally Published: Fall 2014
See the original French text here: http://revueliberte.ca/content/lausterite-au-temps-de-labondance

At a stone’s throw from the Colisée Pepsi, the former home of the Québec Nordiques, workers are busy on the worksite of the city’s new amphitheatre. The official opening of this four hundred million dollar project is scheduled for September 2015. As they await this exciting date, hockey fans in the capital region dream of attracting a new NHL team due to this arena that has been financed directly by municipal and provincial funds.

In mid-July, when journalists wandered around the new building in the neighbourhood of Limoilou to take in the progress of the construction, union members from the Laval CSSS were had their picket signs in the hopes of making themselves heard by the Minister of Health and of sensitizing public opinion to the consequences that the public will surely feel from the cuts of around twelve million dollars that had been announced by the Liberal government.  There are no cuts to the staffing framework currently planned, but we know already that night posts for auxiliary nurses will be cut and that the number of extra hours will be lowered.

Welcome to the reign of austerity in the era of massive wastefulness. All spending is allowed, so long as there is no question of making it seem to us, the little guys, that the purpose of government is to respond to the needs of their supposed constituents. Before treating me as a killjoy, know that my intention is not at all to take aim at our illustrious national sport. I will instead say this: the Neoliberal State is not a Lean State, that spends prudently like only a good father of a family could do. The Neoliberal State is rather one that gave, in 2011, to a company represented by a former political counsellor of the premier at the time, a two hundred forty million dollar contract to install forty thousand indispensable smart white boards in primary and secondary schools in the province. During this time in Montreal, students were chased out of their neighbourhood schools by dangerous mold that had made its home in the walls of their buildings. The situation has been going on for more than two years, but the Montreal School Commission, responsible for these infected buildings, also had to work towards budgetary equilibrium. In short, everything suggest that a solution is within arm’s reach in this case.

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More Cuts, More Cops (La Presse)

By Joëlle Dussault, MA Candidate in Sociology at UQAM and researcher for the Commission populaire sur la repression politique
Originally published on: December 29, 2014
See original French version here: http://plus.lapresse.ca/screens/9df1b8e0-5df5-4abb-b937-b573c954d24b%7C_0.html

“The more they cut, the more cops they put out there”; a well-known protest slogan from the last few years. At the dawn of 2015, this simple expression becomes fully realized. At the moment that groups of all kinds are mobilizing to fight against the austerity measures being imposed on all public services in the past few years, there is one that, to the contrary, is on the rise.

Between 2004 and 2013, the annual budget of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) grew by more than 241 million dollars (budgetary document 2004, 2013 SPVM). From 2004 to 2014, 634 more police officers were authorized in the territory of Montreal (annual reports, 2004, 2013 SPVM).

The SPVM has also equipped itself with two sound canons that can project up to 143 decibels costing, respectively, $6000 – $12 000. And that is without mentioning Thunder 1, the armored truck worth $364 606 that the SPVM recently acquired. What will be the toy of 2015? All bets are off!

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One Last Drink Before the War (Le Devoir)

By David Desjardins
Originally published on: December 20, 2014
See original French version here: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/427274/un-dernier-verre-avant-la-guerre

Closures. Cuts. Reductions. Freezes. Increases in workloads. Confrontations. Week after week, the political and social reality builds up like a storming sky, souring our moods with the promise of a grey winter, followed by at least a few seasons of discontent.

Or maybe not?

Take a look at the ambiguous poll of the week, in which, in sum, Quebecois people seem to say both one thing and its opposite. It seems that they approve of most of the government’s austerity measures while at the same time feeling dissatisfied with them.

Next, try to predict what the social climate will look like in the coming weeks.

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