March 22nd Demo:
Manifestation du 22 Mars – le premier jour du Printemps Érable – Discours de Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. from DAVAÏ on Vimeo.
Transcript of the speech by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois:
“In recent weeks, I have been fortunate to do several interviews on television, on the radio and in the newspapers, repeating the claims of the student movement, but today … today is a unique moment for me because we are in the hundreds of thousands in the streets, and the strikes are not happening on television sets. The strike is happening in the streets! In recent weeks, the media, the Minister of Education, Mrs. Beauchamp, Minister of Finance, Mr. Bachand and Prime Minister Jean Charest keep hammering that WE are at war with the workers. I have some news for the Liberal government. Since coming into power, it is THEY who continue to attack our working men and women. During the Journal de Montreal lockout, where were the Liberals? Following the Rio Tinto Alcan lockout, where were the Liberals? Following the AVEOS closing, where were the Liberals? THEY were with the bosses! And WE were, and ARE STILL on the side of the working people of Quebec, and against the corrupt and dirty government. It’s not … it’s not the student movement that is at war with the people of Quebec. Those who are at war against the people, is the Liberal government and their economic and political allies WE. ARE. THE. PEOPLE. Mrs. Beauchamp’s glasses might be broken, but it’s the government that is blind to the largest grassroots mobilization in the history of Quebec. One day, when we have free education, our kids will be in school, and when they’ll open their history books to the date of March 22nd 2012, they will speak of this day as the day when the youth of Quebec stood up for accessible education. And when they will speak of spring 2012, it will be called the Student Spring, and it will be the spring of victory! We will, dear friends…WE WILL WIN. We will win, but we have not yet won. Everywhere in the media, and around the corridors of the National Assembly, they say that today’s event was very beautiful, that it’s the only one that will be as massive, and that starting today, the student movement will falter. NO! We must make them liars, starting tomorrow! We must return to our CEGEPs and our universities, and talk about the general strike even more. We must go beyond the general strike if we want to disprove those who say that our movement will falter. We will have to collectively go beyond our streets. We will have to disrupt. We will have to occupy. We will have to shake Québec. Today, hundreds of people bravely blocked the access to the Port of Montreal, because… Why did they do that? Because this government has only one language: money. And if we want to win, THAT is the language we must speak to them. Mr. Charest, Mrs. Beauchamp, Mr. Bachand, you are wrong when you say that the student movement will collapse. In the coming weeks, we will be more numerous than ever before and we will take to the streets even more. We will disturb Quebec more than ever. Mr. Bachand, Mrs. Beauchamp, Mr. Charest, open your eyes, you are surrounded. You only have one option: BACK OFF ON YOUR DECISION.”
After the demo:
You are beautiful. Quebec is beautiful today! We were 200,000 in the
streets of Montreal. A historic demonstration for a historic movement.
We are showing the government that they were wrong to suggest that we
were only a minority. The Charest government thought that our movement
would run out of steam. But we declare today that we are not finished
with them! And that we’ll continue to intensify the pressure until he
backs off on these anti-social and unjust tuition hikes!
Today, the province of Quebec is at a crossroads. Today, Quebec has a
choice to make.
A choice between a Quebec for sale. A Quebec where culture would be
for sale, sold at a great price to the highest bidder, sold to the
highest bidder among the rich minority. This Quebec, we can choose
this, but there’s another choice. We can also choose another Quebec, a
Quebec that is ours. A Quebec that we can re-appropriate, where
education will not serve the economy, will not serve the bosses, but
where it will serve autonomy, free thinking, passing on culture, for
everyone, irrespective of how thick their wallet is!
Minister Beauchamp asks us to return to school to learn. Well, I have
some news for Minister Beauchamp. By striking, we learn, we learn a
lot. During this strike, we learn about the disdain of the government,
we learn who the government serves. During this strike we learn what
the function of the police is and what role it serves through its
violence. During this strike, we learn what social injustice is, what
neoliberalism is and how it disadvantages the people of Quebec.
And we resist because we are not a commodity, and because we do not
want to become a commodity! All over the planet, all over the planet,
in England, in Greece, in the Czech Republic, in Colombia, students
are fighting against tuition hikes, always in solidarity with the
workers, who are also fighting against austerity measures.
We assert once again our solidarity with the students of Chile, who
were on strike for eight months. Solidarity with workers, from here or
abroad, who are the victims of lookouts at Alma at the Rio-Tinto-Alcan
factories and, notably, at Avéos more recently. We are in solidarity
with these people. Solidarity with all women in the world who are the
first victims of these non-egalitarian and unjust policies. Solidarity
with all those who bear the burden of oppression.
And, above all, above all, we’re here this evening to tell Ministers
Bachand, Beauchamp and Charest, that what they call a “cultural
revolution” will not be allowed to pass. The students, the people of
Quebec, will not accept, will never accept, the destruction and the
privatization of its public services. Sunday, we were 30,000 people in
the streets. The majority of the people were not students. It was the
families of Quebec that took over the streets of Montreal with us to
say “no”. This evening, it is the artists who are in the streets, who
were in the streets, who are here on-stage with us, to say “no” to the
hike, to say “no” to privatization, to say “no” to the Quebec of
commodification and capital.
Everyone — the youth, the workers, the artists, everyone — is in the
streets with one and the same message. This tuition hike is an
injustice. It’s an injustice. And, this injustice … it will not
But, instead of listening to the people, instead of listening to those
it is supposed to represent, the Liberal government prefers answering
us with batons, grenades, tear gas. We know what this means, we know
where it comes from. We know it’s because the government doesn’t serve
the interests of the population. This government, we know who it
listens to. This government has ears only for the demands of the rich,
for the demands of bosses, for the demands of the mining companies
that will benefit from its “Plan Nord” that is full of crap. It is
more receptive to these people than it is to its citizens, and this is
After today, the fight against tuition hikes should never again be
depicted as a student struggle. As of today, the fight against tuition
hikes should be called by its name: it’s a people’s movement, it’s a
They have tried to reduce us to silence. But, I have some bad news for
the Liberal government over there in Quebec City. We will not stop
fighting. We will not stop fighting during our strike and after our
strike for public education, for free education, and even more, for a
Quebec that’s more just, a Quebec that’s more egalitarian, a Quebec
that’s more human.
I don’t know if you’ve read the newspapers recently. Mister Bachand
was speaking about his last budget as being not only a cultural
revolution, but also as a second May ’68. I’m not sure if Mister
Bachand has taken history classes, but let’s remind him about what
happened in May ’68. In May ’68, there was a student strike. In May
’68, this strike become a social strike. In May ’68, there were
barricades, there were people in the streets, and so if he wants a May
’68, that’s what he’ll get!!