ASSÉ organized another large round of demonstrations and a national strike on in Printemps 2015 (Spring) to protest the Liberal Party austerity cuts in the education budget and trying to privatize social services like health care in Quebec, its support of the oil pipeline, and neoliberalism in general. “It is not like 2012. This time, it is a global political struggle,” commented student Gioia Cazzaniga.[i] A Montreal march held on March 21 titled “A Popular Protest Against Austerity and the Petro-Economy” attracted from 5,000 to 10,000 supporters, but I didn’t see it covered in the US press. Police mounted their usual response with pepper spray. They demanded no tuition fees, similar to Scandinavian countries. Over 60,000 students went on strike for weeks starting on March 23 and another “National Protest” strike was held on April 2.
ASSÉ published a paper titled “Who Benefits from Austerity?” to show alternatives to neoliberal policies.[ii] A spokeswoman for the association of 66 local student organizations, Camille Godbout stated, “We will continue to increase the pressure. We’re angry.”[iii] Labor groups and the Red Hand Coalition joined them. The latter is a coalition of over 80 community groups formed in 2009 to oppose cuts, while Printemps 2015 is a new coalition with some overlapping members, similar to CLASSE’s role in 2011 to 2012. Police responded with rubber bullets. Similar protests were held at the University of Saskatchewan, with smaller numbers, led by Izabela Vlahu, Mairi Anderson, and others. A Social Strike was help on May 1. Also in Spring 2015, students and staff at Toronto’s York University went on strike for a month to protest rising tuition costs and stagnant staff salaries, including graduate teaching assistants. Canadian average university fees almost tripled in the last two decades.[iv] To stay current, a Canadian socialist magazine about the youth movement is called Rebel Youth.[v]
[i] David Gray-Donald, “Quebecois on the Streets Fighting Austerity,” Axis of Logic, April 3, 2015.
[iii] Kate Aronoff, “Quebec Students Strike Against Austerity and the Petro Economy,” Common Dreams, March 28, 2015.
[iv] Maria Babbage, “Canadian University Cost to Rise 13 percent over 4 Years,,” CBC News, September 9, 2014.
David Gray-Donald, “Quebecois on the Streets Fighting Austerity,” Axis of Logic, April 3, 2015.
http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_69876.shtmlDavid Gray-Donald, “Quebecois on the Streets Fighting Austerity,” Axis of Logic, April 3, 2015.