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Solidarité contre l’austerité

Darren Edgar

June 6, 2012

A continuation of “Casseroles night in Canada” from the previous week, and only a day after another successful action in Toronto, the evening of June 6 saw thousands take to the streets in hundreds of cities across the country in solidarity with striking Quebec students.
In Toronto, up to 1,000 people took part. Despite cool weather, significant rain leading up to the demonstration and the threat of even more rain during—which probably kept away many people who wished to join—a boisterous crowd gathered once again in Dufferin Grove Park before embarking on the evening’s journey through the streets. The weather may have kept some away but it didn’t dampen people’s spirits at all.
Adorning everyone’s apparel were red squares— distributed to anyone who did not already have one—and banners and many placards bearing slogans of solidarity could be seen as well. Being struck enthusiastically were pots and pans of all sorts; indeed, any household instrument capable of producing a satisfying sound was used—from frying pans to baking sheets to dust pans.
While the turnout may have been only half of the previous week’s demonstration, many people continued to join the demonstration as it passed them by on the street or by their homes and workplaces and a number of people who had been caught in traffic or who joined only toward the end of the previous week’s march came out to join in the jubilant spirit, from beginning to end.
For all those who did gather again in the park and then take to the streets—chanting slogans of solidarity against austerity and drumming rhythmically—what couldn’t be missed was the growing sense of confidence among them to claim the streets as their own, the sense that this was where they needed to be and where their voices needed to be heard. They had a growing sense of confidence to speak up and fight for themselves.
There were actions in hundreds of cities across the country, including in New Westminister, BC, where a small but enthusiastic crowd came out to their first casseroles. People passing by were very supportive and interested in why we were there, and every one signed up to make the next casseroles bigger–on June 13 and June 22, the latter coinciding with another mass demonstration in Quebec.
The Quebec student strike has grown well beyond demands to stop tuition hikes and become a “social strike,” including mass civil disobedience to the unjust legislation of Bill 78. By supporting, learning from, and being inspired by the Quebec spring, the growing solidarity movement has the potential of following its example–giving workers fighting for jobs and services the confidence to vote down a bad deal presented to them by their employers or union bureaucrats, and giving people everywhere the confidence to ignore unfair legislation, whether back-to-work or anti-protest or union-busting in scope.
This will not happen automatically or from the top down, but can be built from the ground up–in every workplace, school and neighbourhood–against our own 1%. Following the Arab spring, the ”printemps érable” is giving people the confidence to deepen their resistance to the austerity agenda being forced upon them, and resistance in Quebec could spark resistance across Canada. As one of the banners in Toronto said, “First Charest, then Harper: solidarité contre l’austerité.”

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