Roger Rashi


It is well past midnight of May 25 and I have been marching non-stop for the past 4 hours. There are literally tens of thousands of people marching throughout Montreal tonight !


The march I participated in started in one neighborhood in Montreal, the Plateau, with a couple of dozens people at the corner of Mt-Royal and De Lorimier at 8 pm. Within half an hour we were a thousand strong as people came out streaming from their homes, from restaurant terraces and coffee shops, banging on pots and pans. As we marched through the neighborhood we merged with other groups coming from the north, south east and west. By 9 pm we were several thousands. By ten pm over ten thousand and marching towards the neighborhoods to the north: Rosemont, Villeray, Parc Extension. By 11 pm, this march was over 3 km long with an estimated 20 to 30 thousand people, chanting slogans and joyously banging on their pots and pans.


And this was only ONE of several spontaneous marches going on throughout the city. The cops were practically invisible. How could they cope with thousands of people streaming simultaneously from 6 to 10 different neighborhoods in the city, with no fixed route and no discernible organization or leadership ? Throughout the day calls were put out through face book and over the internet with literally dozens of meeting spots given in a ten different neighborhoods.


These marches are totally illegal, openly flaunting the repressive bill 78, making a mockery of Premier Charest attempt to crush the student and peoples’ movement. It is a direct answer to the incredible number of mass arrests of close to 700 hundred people during Wednesday nightly marches. Arrests replete with many acts of police brutality. Stupidly, the government thought this massive act of repression would cow the people barely 24 hours after Tuesday’s giant demo when more than a quarter million people marched in the streets of Montreal !


Instead, this last gambit has literally¬† exploded in the government’s face, galvanizing hundreds of thousands of people and turning this struggle into a giant peoples movement, the likes I have not seen in over 40 years of political activism in Quebec. The people have taken over the streets and the city in a massive act of civil disobedience. Furthermore, the movement of civil disobedience has spread to the rest of the province with demonstrations, marches and pots being banged in many town and cities across Quebec.


This incredible movement sparked by the student strike against increased tuition fees has morphed into a powerful mass movement against austerity measures and repressive policies. Far from petering out, it is gathering strength and has thrown the provincial government in total disarray. A full-fledged political crisis is looming.


It’s a student strike and a peoples’ movement!


(Roger Rashi is the former leader of the Workers Communist Party of Canada and lives in Montreal)

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