Will Anti-Austerity Movement Grow to 2nd Printemps québécois?
[bientôt en français]
There is a murmur that Québec’s anti-austerity movement is on the rise. People are whispering that it has the potential to swell into a second Printemps québécois that may rival the one we all experienced in 2012. If I compare the student movement as it was poised for the the Nov. 10, 2011 demonstration against tuition hikes with the current organizing of tomorrow’s (Oct. 31, 2014) demonstrations against austerity (one during the day and another at night). There is reason to believe that a wave of protest may be on the rise, but whether it reaches the scale of protests of 2012 remains to be seen.
The number of students represented by ASSÉ, FECQ and FEUQ who voted in general assemblies for a one-day strike on Nov 10 was a whopping 200,000 with an estimated number of people on the streets at 20-30,000. On October 31, according to the strike counter of the Comité large Printemps 2015, which adds up the students belonging to associations whose members voted to strike, a total of 82,409 students are on strike. Although the Printemps québécois was a student-initiated and led movement, this time around students are among a wider initial representation that includes community groups (that are organizing a demonstration on Nov. 17) and unions. The CSN, “invites its members to participate” in tomorrow’s demo while the FTQ is organizing another demonstration on Nov. 29 to be simultaneously held in both Québec City and Montréal.
If we look at the posters produced for tomorrow’s march, the is certainly creative momentum for a movement that is on the rise. Nineteen anti-austerity posters have been created since early September to annonce the October 31 demonstration against the Québec government’s austerity measures, organized by the Coalition opposée à la tarification et à la privatisation des services publics (Coalition main rouge). The coalition’s poster reads, “Public services and social programs are under attack! Liberal Massacre: Austerity, a horror story”. The poster’s austerity massacre is lead by three bloodied politicians wielding chainsaws. The famous still image from the 1974 slasher film by Tobe Hooper, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is reproduced in triplet with the faces of three politicians to represent from front to back, Québec Premier, Philippe Couillard, Minister of Finance, Carlos Leitao and Minister of Health and Social Services, Gaétan Barrette. These politicians’ neoliberal propensity to cut public services is alarming. Students and social groups are joining together to resist the slashing.
A set of six posters were created by Mario Jean (aka Madoc) who gained notoriety for his posters and videos during the 2012 student strike. These six posters take the theme of “Austerity: a horror story” even further with photo-realistic zombie images of a total of nine politicians. If these posters, banners and other imagery already produced to fight against government-imposed austerity measures are any indication, there is reason to believe that we will be many in the streets tomorrow and in the foreseeable future.