Lessons from the Spring of 2012 (La Presse)

By Rima Elkouri
Originally published on March 31, 2015
See original French text here: http://plus.lapresse.ca/screens/52819f3b-8470-48e8-8497-c6efe5c4584a%257C_0

What lessons have we learned from the student uprising in the spring of 2012?

I asked myself this question while listening, on Sunday, to Prime Minister Philippe Couillard comment on the violent episode before the Parliament of Québec in which one demonstrator was injured in the face by a shot of teargas. There are “lessons to be learned from both sides,” said Mr. Couillard.

In and of itself, this statement contrasted those which we became used to from Jean Charest in such circumstances. Even in the face of obvious police misconduct, Mr. Charest seemed to have decided by political calculation that only violence he associated with the “red squares” deserved to be condemned. Another spring, another speech … This time, Prime Minister Couillard has at least had the wisdom to invite the police to review its crowd control practices.

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Austerity fashioned from candle ends (Le Journal de Montréal)

By Ianik Marcil
Originally published on February 19, 2015
See original French text here: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/02/19/austerite-de-bout-de-chandelles

After the “Hats Off, Girls!” program, which encourages young women to choose non-traditional occupations, today we learn that the Couillard government is slashing the “Secondaire en spectacle” [High schools on stage] program. Yet another short-sighted decision, which shows that the current government, under the pretext of “fiscal restraint”, is pursuing ideological goals.

There is nothing illegitimate about the party in power redefining the size and role of government. This is an act of political vision that can be defended in the democratic game. On the other hand, using the argument of a balanced budget as a weapon to dismantle specific programs is at best misleading, and at worst, is an intellectual fraud and deceit.

I have written it enough in these columns and elsewhere – and I’m obviously not the only one -: there is no urgency or imminent disaster. To suggest otherwise, as do Philippe Couillard, Martin Coiteux and Carlos Leitão, is to downright falsify reality.

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Cutting off your nose to spite your face (La Presse)

By Patrick Lagacé
Originally published on March 26, 2015
See original French text here: http://www.lapresse.ca/debats/chroniques/patrick-lagace/201503/23/01-4854766-scier-la-branche-sur-laquelle-on-est-assis.php

Friday morning, at the Reproductive Centre of the McGill University Health Centre. Each chair is occupied by a woman who wants to become pregnant with the help of science. Élodie Mantha, 33 years old, from Gatineau, is one of them. If they are so numerous, it is because the assisted procreation program – public and free – exists.

Created in 2010, the program was meant to cost 48 million annually. It costs 70 million. This popularity is not a passing fad: from 1992 to 2012, infertility* doubled in Canada – from 8.5% to 16%, one couple in six – for a series of factors that are more or less known.

And the older women are, the more they are infertile and the more they need the helping hand of science to get pregnant.

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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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Austerity or Confiscated Democracy (Journal de Montréal Blog)

By Julia Posca
Originally published on January 26 2015
See original French text here: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/01/26/lausterite-ou-la-democratie-confisquee

Source: Photo Archives/Reuters
Photo Archives/Reuters

Austerity is on everyone’s lips since the Liberal’s return to power in Quebec in April 2014. Our current political climate is resonant with the “debt crisis” which has been rocking Europe since the economic and financial crisis of 2008.

Yet fiscal austerity measures on both sides of the Atlantic are not simply a response to the economic crisis. In spite of the extent of austerity’s claim on the political landscape over the past seven years, the imperative of the balanced budget has been around since long before the subprime bubble burst, sweeping the global economy along with it. Austerity is simply the current manifestation of the question of balanced public finances.

One must turn back the clock to the mid-1970s in order to find the first battles waged by governments against public debt (at least in its neoliberal version). In those days, climbing inflation and global unrest put the breaks on economic growth, depleting state coffers. Those who intend to narrow the scope of public spending set their sights on social security spending, considerably on the rise since World War Two. The welfare state is traded in for the commodification of public services and the privatization of various state functions. Neoliberal doctrine is on the up swing, while politicians critical of social security nets are globally brought to power (Tatcher in the United Kingdom, Reagan in the United States, Mulroney in Canada, Bourassa in Quebec) or “installed” (Pinochet in Chile or Videla in Argentina).
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